When Republicans initially gained control of the House in 2011, they promised to defund Obamacare, end funding for Planned Parenthood, and cut spending in the first budget bill in March. Even though they only controlled one branch of government, the understanding was that, buttressed by an electoral landslide, Republicans would stand their ground on at least half of their demands. Well, they caved immediately and then promised us they’d fight “the next time” in the fall budget. It became an inside joke among conservatives on Capitol Hill – “don’t worry, we’ll do it the next time” – even though the same rationale for the maniacal capitulation the first time would always persist in the subsequent iterations.
Now, with control of all three branches and a president who sold himself in the primaries as the antithesis of weak-kneed Republicans who don’t know the first thing about tough negotiations, we are in the exact same position. Last night, President Trump signaled that, after not even fighting on refugee resettlement and Planned Parenthood, he would cave on the final budget issue – the funding of the border fence. But fear not, he’ll resume his demand … the next time!
The true-believing Trumpers are telling me that Trump will do all the best things in time, so that I will get tired of all the winning. But the odds are less likely that we get the votes without the leverage of shutting down the government:
If Republicans can’t deliver on any of these basic promises when their political capital is the strongest and they stand the farthest from the next election, what dynamic will change in the next year to provide conservatives with a single legislative victory?
If the budget will never be used as leverage to fight back against the courts, for example, on refugees and visas from the Middle East, what is stopping the courts from erasing even the few remaining benefits of this presidency in its executive orders? If Congress fails to act, the courts will likely “strike down” the executive order against sanctuary cities.
Next time? That’s not what he said when he was running for President. He sounded like such a tough guy, and many people who preferred confidence over resume were fooled. But confidence doesn’t do anything, it’s just appearance. The reality is now upon us. Now we know for certain.
When Trump did some good things at the beginning of his Presidency, I was glad, and blogged about them. Now he is doing horrible things, and showing his true nature as a Democrat. I think it’s fair to mock the people who believed his confident, insulting words – instead of insisting on seeing evidence from past battles that would show his real priorities.
My friend Bruce posted a dazzling video, which I have included below. It shows Ted Cruz at the Iowa caucuses having a tense discussion with an Iowa farmer who is opposed to Cruz’s policy of repealing federal subsidies for ethanol, which is made from Iowa corn.
Notice how Cruz respects the man, looks him in the eye, and does not appear anxious to move on. He believes that he is right, and he respects the other man as a rational agent. He thinks that if he explains his view, then the other man will agree with him on the merits of his argument. The farmer’s opposition is not a marketing problem to Ted Cruz. It’s an evidence problem to Ted Cruz. Cruz doesn’t think that there is any difference in the dignity or worth of himself and this man. He approaches him like an equal, and he believes that he owes this man an answer. He wants this man’s vote, and he is not willing to bribe him with taxpayer money in order to get it. He is lifting the man upward – asking him “what kind of country do you want this to be?” instead of telling him what taxpayer money Cruz will give him for his vote. It is the complete opposite of what Trump, Clinton and Sanders do with voters.
The Resurgent has a story on it about what to notice in the video:
People covering Ted Cruz say he doesn’t leave any event until the last question has been answered. In this video, Cruz is confronted by an angry farmer questioning his stand against Ethanol subsidies.
Cruz’s deep knowledge of the topic, his ability to calm the man down and get him to really listen, combined with his confidence in his own solutions win the man over.
Notice the constant eye contact. This is why Cruz can govern. On the stump, Washington fears him. On the floor of the Senate, the establishment hates him. But one-on-one, more often than not, Cruz can convince people he’s right.
Here is the clip from the most recent debate where Cruz explained his policy to the people of Iowa:
This is not your typical politician. This is something different.
I have a number of friends who are supporters of Marco Rubio, the establishment GOP candidate.
What my Rubio-supporting friends are telling me is that all these past actions are no big deal. They say that America has become a less conservative country, so we need to run a less conservative establishment candidate like Marco Rubio in order to win. I understand and agree that America is a less conservative country. We’ve drifted away from our roots and lost the vision of the Founders, which made us so great. But I don’t think that less conservative policies – be they social, fiscal or foreign policy policies – produce better results than more conservative policies.
Socialism doesn’t work
Take a look at this article about Venezuela, which appeared in the radically leftist Washington Post.
The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first.
The key word there is “completely.” Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela’s ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it’s hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever. Incumbents, after all, don’t tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.
That’s not an easy thing to do when you have the largest oil reserves in the world, but Venezuela has managed it. How?
[…]The first step was when Hugo Chávez’s socialist government started spending more money on the poor, with everything from two-cent gasoline to free housing.
[…]Chávez turned the state-owned oil company from being professionally run to being barely run. People who knew what they were doing were replaced with people who were loyal to the regime, and profits came out but new investment didn’t go in.
Do you know who supports spending tons of taxpayer money on public works projects and welfare, in order to buy votes? Democrats. Do you know who supports nationalizing private industry, especially health care and energy? Democrats. These are Democrat Party policies and they failed. They failed spectacularly. This failure is something that any ordinary American can understand, if anyone bothered to explain the cause and effect of economic policies to them.
And that’s exactly what Ted Cruz is doing in that video, with that ordinary voter. And to the great credit of Iowa voters, they voted for Ted Cruz even when he didn’t promise to give them taxpayer-funded goodies. That, my friends, is character. Iowa has character. They rose to his challenge, because they have Iowa values. Not New York Values.
Here is the real Donald Trump and his New York values, by the way:
Donald Trump promised more subsidies for ethanol to the people of Iowa, in order to get them to overlook his New York values. And the people of Iowa gave Ted Cruz the win.
So, the bottom line is this. I don’t believe that the superiority of conservative policies is difficult to demonstrate to ordinary people. I think that the average, run-of-the-mill American adult in the political center can be persuaded, so long as they give us time, and so long as we have the right man or woman to do the persuading. Give Cruz a chance to persuade them. We don’t have to take the American people as they are. We can try to shift them to the right, by listening to their concerns, and then persuading them with evidence.
The official name of ObamaCare is the “Affordable Care Act.” So, as it enters its third year, how is it living up to its moniker? Not every well, according to a new Gallup poll. Cost and access to care remain the top concern of 42% of Americans, which is actually up from 2013, the year before ObamaCare went into effect, when 39% cited these as top concerns. And it’s far above 1997, when just 22% listed cost and access as top health concerns.
It’s not hard to understand why. Even those getting generous subsidies through ObamaCare exchanges often find that they can’t afford treatments because of the health plans’ high deductibles.
The New York Times found that more than half the plans offered through the federal Healthcare.gov exchange had deductibles of $3,000 or more. In some states, the median deductible was $5,000 or more.
Sky-high deductibles like that high used to come with extremely low premiums. But thanks to ObamaCare’s many rules and regulations and fees, such plans are a thing of the past.
The Times notes that an Albuquerque, N.M., woman pays $4,800 a year for a plan with a $6,000 deductible. Before ObamaCare, a plan with a $2,500 deductible was available in that state for just $1,625 a year, according to aGovernment Accountability Office review of pre-ObamaCare premiums.
IBD’s Jed Graham found that deductibles for the cheapest ObamaCare plans in 37 major markets climbed an average 7.4% to more than $5,600.
Then, of course, there are the premium spikes many will find when they go to sign up or renew their ObamaCare polices. Not to mention the increasingly narrow doctor networks and other hidden costs imposed by insurers to keep premiums from going up even more.
Yes, health care premiums are way, way up. Obama told us during his election campaigns that health care premiums would go down an average of $2,500. How did he intend to achieve that? By reducing choice and competition, and require insurance companies to cover more stuff, like drug addiction therapy, onto every health care plan.
Here he is promising things to young voters:
The young people believed his honeyed words, and did not ask for evidence to prove the claims that made them feel good. After all, if the words made them feel good, then the words must be true, right?
So what happened? Health care premiums went up, because the more stuff that your health care plan has to cover (e.g. – drug addiction treatment) the more you have to pay for that health care plan. And so, as I blogged about before, health care premiums have actually gone up $4,865 on average, per year. Yes, this is another case of keep your doctor / keep your health plan claims. Either Obama knows that what he says is false, and says it anyway (evil Obama) or he does not know what he is talking about, but says things that will make people like him anyway (imbecile Obama).
It’s been a fun game for conservatives over the last 7 years to try to decide whether we elected an evil man or a stupid man. My view has always been that Obama is a stupid man, and that’s because unlike every other politician, he’s never released his transcripts. I can pretty much guarantee you that it is all Fs straight down the line. We elected a moron, who just says whatever makes him look good. He has no more idea what he is talking about than a parrot trying to explain the stock market. But he made Democrat voters feel good – and that’s what mattered to them.
First, let’s recall what the socialist leader Tsipras said after he was elected to save nearly bankrupt Greece.
Look how the radically leftist UK Guardian gushed when Tsipras took office:
In a dramatic start to his tenure in office, Greece’s new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has begun unpicking the deeply unpopular austerity policies underpinning the debt-stricken country’s bailout programme.
[…]“We won’t get into a mutually destructive clash, but we will not continue a policy of subjection,” said Tsipras, who at 40 is Greece’s youngest postwar leader.
[…]Earlier, the energy minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis, called a halt to the privatisation programme that the EU and IMF have demanded in exchange for the €240bn in aid keeping Greece afloat. Plans to sell off the country’s dominant power corporation, PPC, were to be frozen with immediate effect. “We will immediately stop any privatisation of PPC,” said the politician, who heads Syriza’s militant Left Platform. A proposed scheme to privatise the port of Pireaus, the country’s largest docks, were also put on hold.
Yes, only nasty conservatives like me think that private industry is cheaper, more efficient and less corrupt than big government for handling big projects.
After that, ministers announced more measures: the scrapping of fees for prescriptions and hospital visits, the restoration of collective work agreements, the rehiring of workers laid off in the public sector, the granting of citizenship to migrant children born and raised in Greece. On his first day in office – barely 48 hours after storming to power – Tsipras got to work. The biting austerity his Syriza party had fought so long to annul now belonged to the past, and this was the beginning not of a new chapter but a book for the country long on the frontline of the euro crisis.
“A new era has begun, a government of national salvation has arrived,” he declared as cameras rolled and the cabinet session began. “We will continue with our plan. We don’t have the right to disappoint our voters.”
If Athens’s troika of creditors at the EU, ECB and IMF were in any doubt that Syriza meant business it was crushingly dispelled on Wednesday . With lightning speed, Europe’s first hard-left government moved to dismantle the punishing policies Athens has been forced to enact in return for emergency aid.
Measures that had pushed Greeks on to the streets – and pushed the country into its worst slump on record – were consigned to the dustbin of history, just as the leftists had promised.
Yes, everything is going to be sunshine and roses, because a 40-year-old know-nothing with no experience says it will be. Economics? That dismal science belongs in the dustbin of history. We can unilaterally reverse the policies our creditors demanded, and then they will of course keep lending us money anyway.
Another leftist UK Guardian article has more happy rhetoric and socialist policies:
Dismantling the EU-IMF mandated measures that had plunged Greece into poverty and despair would, declared Panos Skourletis, the labour minister, be his single greatest priority.
“The reinstatement of the minimum wage to €751 (£560) [a month] will be among the government’s first bills,” Skourletis announced on Antenna TV.
Under international stewardship, Athens had been forced to pare back the minimum wage to under €500, ostensibly to increase competitiveness and make the labour market more attractive. Skourletis, formerly Syriza’s hard-nosed spokesman, said plans were similarly under way to bring back collective work agreements – a major demand of unions – and to annul the enforced mobilisation of workers protesting against cuts.
Everything is awesome! Well, those two articles were from January 2015. Let’s see what’s happening now.
Greece’s “war cabinet” has resolved to defy the European creditor powers after a nine-hour meeting on Sunday, ensuring a crescendo of brinkmanship as the increasingly bitter fight comes to a head this month.
Premier Alexis Tsipras and the leading figures of his Syriza movement agreed to defend their “red lines” on pensions and collective bargaining and prepare for battle whatever the consequences, deeming the olive-branch policy of recent weeks to have reached a dead end.
“We have agreed on a tougher strategy to stop making compromises. We were unified and we have a spring our step once again,” said one participant.
The Syriza government knows that this an extremely high-risk strategy. The Greek treasury is already empty and emergency funds seized from local authorities and state entities will soon run out.
Greece’s mayors warned over the weekend that they would not release any more funds to the central government. The Greek finance ministry must pay the International Monetary Fund €750m (£544m) on Tuesday, the first of an escalating set of deadlines running into August.
“We have enough money to pay the IMF this week but not enough to get through to the end of the month. We all know that,” said one minister, speaking to The Telegraph immediately after the emotional conclave.
If there’s one thing that makes me feel better about all the crap that is happening in this world, it’s the wonderful truth that eventually, bad economics meets with reality. You can imagine anything you want today that makes you feel good, and imagine that it will all be paid for somehow in the future. I really like it when people who don’t have any money make these elaborate future plans and then bet their futures on it. Because when reality comes, we all find out that there is justice in the world after all. There is no path to prosperity that involves doing whatever you want and being happy all the time – that is a myth that children have about life. Anyway, pass me the popcorn and let’s see how the Peter Pan plans of these inexperienced children work out. We won’t have to wait long. Mmm, this popcorn tastes schadenfreudelicious.