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Deadlock of Democracy

Barack Obama’s dream of being a transformational president who alters the course of his country died 48 hours ago.

The message America sent Obama and the men and women America sent to Congress to replace his allies impel one to ask: Why would he want a second term?

Why would the most liberal president since FDR wish to preside over the major surgery on the social safety net that must be done in the era of austerity we have entered? The liberal hour is over. Why would the Party of Government not prefer that Republicans do the painful work of paring back programs for which Democrats have fought since the New Deal?

The media have begun a drumbeat to demand that the new speaker, John Boehner, compromise with Obama for the good of the country.

Are these people delusional?

Republicans were brought to power because they were the Party of No. Boehner takes the gavel from Nancy Pelosi because he led the fight to kill the Obama stimulus, Obamacare, card check, amnesty, cap-and-trade and Barney Frank’s financial reform.

Boehner’s beliefs are closer to the Tea Party than to Obama. He owes his speakership to the Tea Party. His political interests dictate allying with the Tea Party and moving even further away from Obama.

Why would Boehner lead his caucus into a suicide pact with Obama when, in Boehner’s eyes, the national interest and his own interests point in the other direction?

The left has yet to grasp that the nation has repudiated it as well as Obama. America has shifted to the right, which again raises the question of Obama’s relevance. Why would our most liberal president since FDR want to lead the nation into an age of austerity?

Here is retiring GOP Sen. Judd Gregg, the fiscal conservative that Barack Obama most wanted in his Cabinet.

“This nation is on a course where if we don’t … get … fiscal policy (under control), we’re Greece. We’re a banana republic.”

“(T)he Tea Party is in the mainstream of where political thought is right now,” said Gregg. “We’ve had a radical explosion in the size of government in the last two years: You’ve gone from 20 percent of GDP to 24 percent of GDP headed toward 28 percent of GDP. That has to be brought under control or … we’re going to bankrupt the country.”

Conservatives, Republicans, Tea Partiers all agree with Gregg.

But how does Obama, whose deficits have added more to the debt in two years than Bush added in eight, convert and become a deficit hawk?

Consider Social Security, which all agree must be made solvent.

There are two ways. One is to raise the wage base on which Social Security taxes are imposed and raise the 6.2 percent payroll tax on both employers and employees. But these are major tax increases. And the GOP and Tea Party will fix bayonets to fight them.

The other way is to raise the retirement age to 70 and re-index Social Security COLAs (cost-of-living adjustments) to prices, not wages, reducing future benefits for baby boomers and generations X and Y.

Will Pelosi’s battered liberals go along with reducing Social Security benefits if Obama proposes it? Or would that tear what is left of his tattered coalition to pieces?

To cut spending to 20 percent of GDP from 24 would require annual slashes of $600 billion, eliminating a sixth of the budget.

Will Democrats go along with that magnitude of cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment benefits, earned income tax credits, infrastructure, Pell grants and welfare?

Will Republicans go along with cuts of that size for the Iraq and Afghan wars, new weapons systems, closing of bases and withdrawal of troops from Korea, Japan or Europe? To get 4 percent of GDP out of defense would require putting the Pentagon on furlough.

Bottom line: The new Republican House has the numbers and will to block new taxes and fund both wars and the rising defense budget. And the president has the veto power to block severe cuts in social programs, which his bloodied forces will demand that he do.

Were this a parliamentary system, Obama would be out of power, as the nation voted to reject his party and reverse the course of the country.

In Britain, under Prime Minister David Cameron, the austerity the people voted for is being imposed. In Virginia and New Jersey, where Govs. Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie were elected in 2009 to change the direction of state government, this is happening.

In Washington, however, where Obama’s agenda and party were repudiated by the nation, they still retain the power to prevent the nation from going where America voted to go.

The center has disintegrated. The result: a deadlock of democracy, with neither party responsible and neither accountable, as we drift toward the falls.

Greece, here we come.

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#1 Comment By Robert On November 5, 2010 @ 8:34 am

I suppose it would be imprudent of me to point out the fact that most of the House races were extremely close. Looking at the results the other day, I was surprised to see just how close many of the races were. If I recall correctly, over half of the races that resulted in Republican pickups were decided by less than three percent of the vote total. Now those might sound like comfortable margins, but in some districts two or three percent amounts to a thousand votes.

I’m not saying the Republicans didn’t have a good night, but I think perhaps Buchanan is reading a tad too much into the results.

#2 Comment By Libertarian Jerry On November 5, 2010 @ 9:52 am

Mr.Buchanan’s comments are spot on. The Socialist welfare/warfare state has,as Socialism always does,gone bankrupt. Socialism is a gutter philosophy based on envy and greed for others property. Socialism only “works”to the extent that violence or the threat of violence is used to extort wealth from the producers of society. Socialism on a national scale,fueled by paper money,has never worked and collapses of its own weight. America is now at a crossroads. Either we repeal the New Deal and the Great Society and return to a private charity system with a small government that protects property rights,or we go over the falls straight to the gulags with America’s liberty and standard of living a distant memory.

#3 Comment By lester On November 5, 2010 @ 9:53 am

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agree with ^ I can’t see the republicans really stepping forward on any spending cuts, particularly defense.

#4 Comment By GB On November 5, 2010 @ 11:40 am

I ascertain from the election results that the expectations of voting Americans toward the federal government has almost reached the point of insanity. What meaning does a vote carry when it is cast toward an impossible end be it gold-plated universal healthcare or ceaseless empire-building? What future is there for Democrats’ whose power and influence rests almost entirely on buying off various interest groups with taxpayer money or deficit-spending? Or Republicans who will have to learn to live without Pax Americana and the “advantages” it has brought. This is not a good situation from any perspective. The resolution of these problems will pit young versus old, legal citizen vs. illegal, rich vs. poor, income taxpayer vs non-taxpayer, etc…

For example, if the government ceases unemployment benefits and all of a sudden, many Americans are desperate for work, they will start to view the presence of illegals in a far more negative light. They will not care how long an illegal alien has lived in America or how hard they have worked.

I think we can conclude that government growth, beyond a certain point, only serves to sow the seeds of disharmony throughout a society such as ours.

#5 Comment By Chris Moore On November 5, 2010 @ 11:54 am

The delusional Left advocates expensive and destructive social-engineering domestically; the delusional Right advocates expensive and destructive social-engineering abroad. Both have swallowed the kool-aid, and are totally out of touch with the reality that is staring the American people in the face. Both will flog their respective dying horses until the American people drop of exhaustion and the economy collapses.

The tea party movement should immediately start planning to leverage its caucus into a splinter third party that can draw from both the disaffected Left and the disaffected Right, and that can additionally tap into the disaffected Christian majority that has been so disrespected in ill-served by these neocon/neolib globalization fanatics.

The corrupt Political Class is doing everything it can to throw the American people off of the scent of their collective treachery, but thanks to the Internet, the truth is emerging bit by bit, and will eventually turn into a deluge. The tea party should position itself to reap the political benefits and hit the ground running.

#6 Comment By Jay On November 5, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

Here is a question that I have, since we love pointing to the fact that Europe is going bankrupt because of its high public debt. Which is true for their particular senario.
However on this side of the pond , was it not the high “private” debt that set off the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.Because private households and businesses could no longer pay back their loans, mortgages etc. So what we are basically stating is we are okay with alot of debt in the Private sector, but when it comes to the Public Sector (government). No can do. Very Interesting.

#7 Comment By Chris Moore On November 5, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

Uh, Jay, we in America have overwhelming debt in BOTH the public and private sectors. Many Europeans are largely in the same position. And it’s all the result of Keynesian economics, which is one vast scam engineered by the soulless “elites” to enrich themselves and plunder the rest of us, not unlike Marxist and Communist economics — all under the guise of advocacy and “public interest.”

The slight difference between Europe and America is that here, the Corporatist half of the Statist-Corporatist monolith has slightly more power. But make no mistake, they are all part of the same larger Keynesian scam that is pursuing the transfer of wealth from average Americans to the vast, monopolistic, public-private partnership in fraud and swindle. Therefore, monopolistic Big Government and monopolistic Big Business (the predatory banksters and their Fed partners, for example) all have to be trust-busted alike– and busted hard, because the big stick is all the Parasite Class is capable of understanding.

#8 Comment By Canadian On November 5, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

So Obama increased the government debt during the wrost financial crisis,while G.W. Bush Republicans, squandered the Clinton surpluses during an economic boom, and the elctorate vote them back in Office?
Democracy is a great thing,but apparently not for everybody.

#9 Comment By Jay On November 5, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

You make a very interesting point and thank you for your reply. I appreciate your well articulated response.

#10 Comment By Jay On November 5, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

Just an fyi, my response was to Chris Moore’s post.

#11 Comment By Ken Hoop On November 5, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

What set off the crisis, Jay, was deregulated parasitical finance capitalism.
I hope no one here prioritizes cutting SS over defunding the wars.

#12 Pingback By Tweets that mention The American Conservative » Deadlock of Democracy — Topsy.com On November 5, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

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#13 Comment By tbraton On November 5, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

“The other way is to raise the retirement age to 70 and re-index Social Security COLAs (cost-of-living adjustments) to prices, not wages, reducing future benefits for baby boomers and generations X and Y.”

I believe you have it backwards, Pat. Social Security is currently indexed to prices, not wages, and that is the problem: while SS recipients are afforded some degree of protection against price increases, wage earners are not.
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#14 Comment By 2True On November 5, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

Yes, sir. Bankruptcy is coming our way, probably in company with the usual products of magical thinking that are offered to the weak-minded electorate when there’s a hard truth to be hidden.

What will the TP politicians tell those who voted for them when they finally get a look at the books and do the math?

Will any of them really have the guts to say that we can’t afford any more war, any more welfare, any more anchor babies, and more Pell Grants or any more 3 billion dollar Chanukah presents for Israel?

#15 Comment By Al Blue On November 6, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

No, Ken, what caused the crisis was the Fed’s easy money credit expansion policy as the main culprit followed by stupid anti-discrimination measures going back to Clinton that allowed millions of unqualified people to get mortgages.
The banks were nationalized with the creation of the Fed in 1913 which creates unbacked money out of thin air. The banks are parasitical but is the result of government intervention, not any free market. See Meltdown by Thomas Woods and The Mystery Of Banking by Murray Rothbard.

#16 Comment By Joe Dark On November 7, 2010 @ 7:06 am

Seems to me the issue is we have cut taxes for 30 yrs while at the same time we were spending money like we were drunk.To continue to cut taxes without a balanced budget ammendment was a fools economic policy.You remember the Reagan line”the economy will grow so much wewill outgrow the debt” never happened and the debt has increased ever since with Congress leading the way over the cliff.I think it would have been”conservative”to cut spending at the same time we cut taxes.Lobbyist may have made that impossible.Clintons second term seems like the only sane economic policy in the last 30 years

#17 Comment By ian On November 7, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

We tried the Bush Tax cuts and they’ve helped bankrupt the US. It’s genuine expenditure cuts not pretend ones that are needed and the billionaires tax cuts? well stuffem… that was well and truly tried and they failed to spur growrth and demand. It’s hard to run wars for a decade on the credit card and say no tax hikes.
WTH do ppl think the money for that comes from? We have the biggest military budget in the world and we’re fighting guys who can’t read,hiding in caves, armed with automatic rifles. Their budget..stuff all.We’ve been at it 10 years and now Lindsay wants us to try on Iran for size and throw our weight around with China. Republicans are just not serious at all about balancing the budget and reducing debt. As for living in peace..well…

One word

delusional.

#18 Comment By cortesar On November 8, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not\

#19 Comment By cortesar On November 8, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance
H.L. Mancken

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not
T. Jefferson

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses
H.L. Mancken

Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve
G.B.Shaw

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter
W.Churchill

Democracy… is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike
Plato

Democracy is an abuse of statistics
J.L Borges

Democracy is the road to socialism
K.Marx

#20 Comment By NY Teacher On November 9, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

The NeoCons would allow a downsizing of the lucrative war — a necessity if “austerity” is to be achieved? Keep dreaming…