Monday, December 31, 2012

Amazing Filibustration, and Some Smartness

I had to go all Boudreaux on an editorial cartoon.  (It's not posted yet, I'll put it up when I can find it). (UPDATE:  Here it is....)
Here is the letter I sent to the News and Observer, in outrage:

The 12/31 editorial cartoon (Morin) could have been funny.  Old 2012 asks "Where's the 2013 baby?"  And a clown dressed as Congress could say, "We're filibustering it."  Now, only the Senate has filibusters; the House doesn’t allow them.  But at least it would have been nonpartisan, focusing on a dysfunctional institution generically called “Congress” instead of "Senate" (controlled by Democrats) which is certainly dysfunctional.  They have not even debated a formal budget bill since 2009.  Would the Republicans have filibustered a budget bill?  Hard to tell, since the Dems have failed even to bring a budget forward from committee for nearly four years.  Still, just say "Congress" and be vague, or "Senate" and be correct.  And funny.  A little funny, at least.

But the cartoon didn’t say “Congress.”  Could it be because the Democrats control the Senate?  The clown had to be labeled “HOUSE Tea Party.”  Two problems.  First, no House filibusters.  Plus, your "Tea Party" bogeyman has a majority in the House.  Why would they filibuster?  I wouldn't accept this mistake from a high school senior in a remedial civics class.

Second, this is partisan claptrap.  Congress, both chambers, is gridlocked by an appalling leadership vacuum, from both idiotic parties.  But instead of pointing that out, you selected a cartoon with a factually mistaken, needlessly partisan message.

I sincerely hope that your editorial staff intentionally chose partisanship over accuracy in selecting that cartoon.  Because the alternative is worse:  you folks charged with “leading” public opinion about politics don’t understand the basics of Congressional procedure.

Sincerely, MCM etc.

Anyway, here's the thing.  There is wisdom out there.  This is the best thing I have seen on the cliff, the budget, etc.  The BEST.  Not surprisingly, it comes from LeBron, in his NYTimes column.  What he said, folks.  Excerpt:

Economic conservatives often stress the connection between low taxes and smaller government. But that observation, as an argument for lower current taxes, looks weaker as the years pass. Keeping taxes low doesn’t stop the growth of government spending and, indeed, makes spending taste like a free lunch, because the bill is paid much later. The conservative strategy has long been to hold the line on taxes now, but it would be better to encourage the public to more readily grasp and internalize the costs of government spending. 

As I say often, "conservative" once meant (1) question government spending, and (2) if money is to be spent, figure out how to pay for it responsibly.  Since the Repubs decided #2 was unnecessary, we've all been in deep #2.


LoneSnark said...

This sounds silly. Yes, the Republicans don't want taxes to go up on the wealthy, but they damn sure don't want them to go up on the middle class. The vast majority of their voters are middle class.

Obama promised not to raise taxes on the middle class because that is what most everyone knows he really wants to do. Even he knows he can't fund his huge government taxing just the rich. I suspect every Republican in Congress made the same pledge and would likely get punished for violating it, it just wasn't news when they did it.

Mungowitz said...

Nothing wrong with what you say, as far as it goes, Snarky. But my problem is that the Republicans actually don't care about cutting spending, or the deficit. If your defense is that the Democrats are hypocrites...sure, yes, that's right. Not very satisfying, tho, since Repubs are hypocrites, too.

Tom said...

From the Cowen piece: "It could also be agreed that taxes could come back down in the future, but only if politicians found matching spending cuts." Et tu, Brutus?

Let's skip right over the inability of any Congress to bind a future Congress (or even its later self) and go on to motives. When spending went up from grossly irresponsible to crazed binge, taxes didn't go up. Congresscritters don't associate the two -- or not as long as they can print money. Spending buys votes; taxes cost votes. Aside from a few tea-party heroes, there's no reason for any congresscritter to be responsible. They will continue until they drive the country into financial oblivion and then they'll blame "capitalism" (as if we really have had Capitalism).

Anonymous said...

Taxes have been raised on everyone to the tune of $16+ trillion. Right now they're just negotiating the collection.