Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12, 2012

'Austerity vs. Growth'  
Western governments clothe their irresponsibility in misleading words.
By Victor Davis Hanson
June 12, 2012

Who would not prefer “growth” to “austerity”? That is the false dichotomy that insolvent Western governments, both here and abroad, are now constructing. After all, everyone prefers growing things to starving them. Yet in truth, there is no such clear-cut choice.

In other words, “austerity” is a lie. For all the talk of terrible hardship and suffering, most of insolvent southern Europe still enjoys entitlements undreamed of by prior generations. When the French lamented that they were being squeezed to death by postponing retirement, they meant to age 62 rather than 60 — a futile reform soon to be rescinded by new French president François Hollande.

In the case of the United States, “austerity” does not mean significant cuts in food stamps, reductions in unemployment eligibility, or a raised retirement age, but simply not adding new entitlements to those that recently were vastly expanded. It is a trademark of human nature that people resent any reduction of a benefit, or even only a moderate expansion of it, far more than not having it offered at all. Talk today of cutting the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit or No Child Left Behind, and hysteria follows — without recognition that neither program even existed before the presidency of the unpopular George W. Bush.

A Pre-Revolutionary Situation
by Christopher Chantrill
June 12, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a nation that had trouble paying its bills. The people were restless. So the king called for his advisors, and they advised a little inflation to stimulate trade. A few months passed, and the people were still restless. So the king called for his advisors once again and asked them what was wrong. It's those extremists and radicals, they said. They are sowing radical ideas and extremism among the people.

Wouldn't you know, the bookstores are groaning these days with pompous titles about the radicalism of the Republican Party. Court pundit E.J. Dionne, Jr. is out with Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent. He argues that Republicans have abandoned any thought of community in a mad crush on individualism. In an interview with Hugh Hewitt, E.J. worried that the Tea Partiers owe too much to the ideas of the John Birch Society and have reneged on the "long consensus" about the role of government in society.

I think they emphasize our individualistic side, which is very much part of us, the individual liberty side, to the exclusion of that side of us which both believes profoundly in community, and sees it as essential to preserving liberty. 

Thomas E. Mann from Brookings and Norman J. Ornstein of AEI have written It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism. Jay Cost tells us what they think has gone wrong.

[T]hey argue that the GOP "has become an insurgent outlier -- ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

When a ruling elite starts to fail, you'd expect this sort of thing. How dare, how dare those peasants challenge our divine right to rule?!

With a Runoff, Dynamics Change in Texas Senate Race
by Ross Ramsey
June 12, 2012

Even with nine candidates in the Republican primary to replace United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, just about everybody bet on Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to win outright.

Instead, he is in a runoff against Ted Cruz, the former state solicitor general, an energetic opponent who tapped into the anti-establishment vein in the Texas Republican Party. Dewhurst is still the front-runner, but he is no longer the inevitability presented throughout the spring.

And now the spotlight is brighter. Dewhurst and Cruz don’t have to compete for attention with a presidential race or contests in other states. National political reporters looking for things to cover are more likely than normal to be planning visits to the Texas barbecue trail. They — like the people they cover — are trying to connect the dots this election year, to figure out whether there is any theme or trend in the results.

Did six-term Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., lose his seat because of some conservative uprising, or did he just fall out of sync with the state that elected him? Was that a result of the Tea Party’s support of Richard Mourdock, or was it about some idea that the guy representing the state ought to have a house there?

What about Nebraska? Did Deb Fischer win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate because she was more conservative than the two statewide officeholders she beat? Or was it because those two front-runners knocked each other’s brains out and she was the only candidate still standing at the end?

Does the recall election in Wisconsin mean anything? Gov. Scott Walker faced down an effort by the state’s unions and Democrats to undo his 2010 election. Some see that as a reaffirmation of the conservative movement that put him in office.

Is the Texas race connected? Are there signs that the establishment is crumbling and that insurgent conservative partisans are taking over the Republican Party?

Maybe. The folks in the Cruz control room are hoping so, and you can certainly expect them to hype that storyline.

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