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After the Republican Rout

At the Potsdam conference with Harry Truman and Josef Stalin, Winston Churchill learned that the voters of the nation he had led for five years through World War II had just voted to throw him out of office.

“It may well be a blessing in disguise,” said his wife Clementine.

“At the moment, it seems quite effectively disguised,” replied Churchill.

Republicans must feel that way today. For they have survived their own Dunkirk. They may have left their helmets, canteens and rifles behind, but they did finally get off the beach.

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That Republicans suffered a rout, as the British did with the fall of France and evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940, is undeniable.

The party that blocked tax increases since George H.W. Bush agreed to raise Ronald Reagan’s top rate of 28 percent to 35 percent, thus repudiating his “no-new-taxes” pledge, just signed on to one of the largest tax increases in history.

Payroll taxes on working Americans will rise by a third, from 4.2 percent of wages and salaries to 6.2 percent. For couples earning $450,000, the tax rate rises from 15 to 20 percent on dividends and capital gains, and from 35 to 39.6 percent on ordinary income. The death tax will rise from 35 to 40 percent on estates over $5 million.

Obamacare will push those rates up further. And now we learn the bill was stuffed with tax breaks for windmills, NASCAR owners and Hollywood.

Why did Republicans go along?

Had they not, taxes would have risen for everyone. And Obama would have postured as the tax-cutting savior of the middle class by proposing to restore the Bush tax cuts for every couple earning less than $250,000.

What does this bill do to spur growth and create jobs? Nothing.

Even Lord Keynes would have wondered what these Americans were doing raising taxes on a recovering economy.

The GOP defense: We took this rotten deal to prevent a worse one.

And what, if any, is the “blessing in disguise”?

Obama has no more leverage. The Bush tax cuts for the 98 percent are now permanent. To block further tax hikes, all the House need do, from now to 2017, is stand united and just say no.

Obama is thus almost certainly staring at four more trillion-dollar deficits to match the last four, and he has no leverage to force Republicans to provide him with new revenue.

The president threatens that before he signs on to new spending cuts, Republicans will have to “make the rich pay their fair share.”

The GOP response should be: We will work with you on spending cuts, but there will be no more tax increases. If higher taxes are a condition you impose for spending cuts, there will be no spending cuts.

But, Mr. President, you will be in the driver’s seat when we go over the cliff into bankruptcy. You will be your party’s Herbert Hoover.

John Boehner and the Republicans got their clocks cleaned in these negotiations because they believed the president was dealing in good faith.

But the ideology and the interests of the Democratic Party dictate not only preserving federal programs, but expanding the numbers of beneficiaries, already near 100 million.

For the larger the number of beneficiaries, the larger the bloc of voters for the party of government and the greater the opposition to any who would dare to cut government.

The question for Republicans is what they do now, besides say no to new taxes.

Most Democrats are not going to agree to freeze or cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, federal aid to education, Head Start, Pell Grants, housing subsidies, welfare, earned income tax credits or unemployment checks. These are the party’s pride and joy, the reason the Democratic Party exists.

As we have seen since 2009, Democrats will readily accept trillion-dollar deficits rather than do even minor surgery on their cherished programs.

As for the Republicans, is it wise to propose cuts in Social Security and Medicare, upon which Republican seniors depend, when they know for certain Democrats will reject those cuts and take credit for doing so?

Will Republicans recommend cuts in defense and foreign aid and a rollback of the U.S. military presence in Europe, the Far East and Persian Gulf? Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham already want to know why we are not intervening in Syria. Soon, some Republicans will be beating the drums for strikes on Iran.

Republicans Chris Christie and Peter King already want to know why Congress has not forked over $60 billion to repair the damage done to New Jersey and New York by Hurricane Sandy.

With the GOP splintering, with Democrats running the Senate and White House, conservatives must realize: They cannot make policy.

Let the Democrats take the lead, drive the car, propose the tax hikes, refuse to make the spending cuts and answer for where we are in 2016, because, right now, it looks as though we are headed for an even bigger cliff.

For the next two years, the best offense may be a good defense.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? [1]” Copyright 2012 Creators.com [2].

28 Comments (Open | Close)

28 Comments To "After the Republican Rout"

#1 Comment By Alex On January 4, 2013 @ 12:09 am

Surely you mean the estate tax. That’s how it’s described on wikipedia after all.

#2 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 4, 2013 @ 12:22 am

Payroll taxes on working Americans will rise by a third, from 4.2 percent of wages and salaries to 6.2 percent.

Anyone who has participated in the doomsday caterwauling about social security indulges in sheer hypocrisy to bemoan the restoration of the level of “payroll taxes” necessary to sustain the financial viability of the social security trust fund.

Now if someone has the political courage to point out that the trust fund will NOT be available to fund the national debt, because the BORROWED money must be REPAID in time to fund social security benefits, that would be worth talking about.

The earned income credit was initiated by that well-known liberal Democrat, Gerald R. Ford. As an alternative to welfare, rewarding the transition to work, it is unparalleled. No conservative Republican should think of touching it.

Now is the time when all good deficit-cutters should offer the American electorate a specific, detailed, enumerated list of what should be cut, with an honest assessment of what it will mean for American life. And then, let the people decide.

#3 Comment By Josh On January 4, 2013 @ 12:31 am

Pat: There is simply no public appetite to cut Medicare and Social Security. A small minority of people are in favor of it (genuinely, not just saying it in the abstract), but it’s still profoundly unpopular in reality.

This is a political reality that continues to dominate the conversations of both parties.

#4 Comment By R.S. On January 4, 2013 @ 1:11 am

God bless you Pat. It’s always a pleasure to read your commentaries and ruminations.

I fear that much of what you say is premised upon a more morally virtuous people than still exists.

But having said that, you remain the greatest friend to genuine, large-hearted conservatives – who wish the best for the country they love, even at the cost of fashionable foreign interests and cosmopolitan opinion.

#5 Comment By Dakarian On January 4, 2013 @ 3:07 am

If it helps, I had the same mentality when Democrats were routed in 2004. “Republicans have the wheel. Let them drive it how they wish, as if Democrats had any choice on the matter.”

Didn’t take more than 2 years for the US to get sick of it all.

It took many…MANY years but republicans seem to be getting a handle of themselves finally. Or perhaps it’s less a change of heart as it is those with clearer heads finding their chance.

It would be nice to not have to see Democrats go through the same thing, so a quick smack down would help keep them in line before things get ugly (I’ve seen the actual radical element of the Left. Let’s not go there).

If I may suggest, then, spend the next few years not screaming at how “horrible Obama is.” and spend it more building up just what you want to be post-Bush. If it means figuring out how to make Reagan’s ideas actually work for everyone or abandoning Reagan for something new then so be it, but do look inwards to define just what sort of ideas do you want to have that will help everyone.

And please, drop the shock punchlines and brimstone. it would be nice to hear about the ideas from half the country without worrying if we’re going back to the McCarthy era.

#6 Comment By Clint On January 4, 2013 @ 7:17 am

Americans voted for divided government. The GOP controls The House and holds more Governorships and State Legislatures’ seats.

#7 Comment By David Naas On January 4, 2013 @ 7:38 am

The GOP used to know how to DO politics. Regretably, since the advdent of having had a rompin’ stompin’ lock on congress for so many years, (not to mention the slash-and-burn methodology of Karl Rove) the youn’ins never had to learn the hard lessons of 40 years of Democratic rule in Congress.
Time for remedial tutoring in effective politics. Winnie would understand.

#8 Comment By lillymckim On January 4, 2013 @ 8:01 am

But can Republicans
“Just Say No”

#9 Comment By Valerie Curl On January 4, 2013 @ 9:42 am

Sometimes I get so tired of the nonsense that the US is going bankrupt or will become Greece, I could scream. Bruce Bartlett, again, makes the case why these hyperbolic arguments are just plain wrong: [3]

Moreover, anyone who thinks that revenues should not be part of maintaining fiscal responsibilities should go back and read Republican history for most of the 20th Century.

#10 Comment By Don Walker On January 4, 2013 @ 10:00 am

I’m still waiting to hear Pat bemoan the $13 trillion dollars that the Fed and Treasury lavished on the Banksters of Wall Street during the financial crisis.

Add up the costs for all of the programs that Pat lists in his screed and they do not equal the cost of the Wall Street bailouts.

Pat remains a Republican at heart and identifies with America’s elite and not the 99%.

#11 Comment By Josh On January 4, 2013 @ 11:06 am

Clint, the U.S. did not vote for divided government. Democratic House candidates got 1.3 million more votes than Republican House candidates overall. This is a concrete fact that cannot and should not be ignored.

#12 Comment By Sponsored Link On January 4, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

“Now is the time when all good deficit-cutters should offer the American electorate a specific, detailed, enumerated list of what should be cut, with an honest assessment of what it will mean for American life. And then, let the people decide.”

Most would agree that the cash-gorged Department like Homeland Security is a pointless botch. The Department of Education is a longstanding joke, and the perennially wasteful DoD has never been more so. But the time for enumerated lists is past, really. When you go on a doctor-ordered diet you can’t decide to feed your left arm more than your right leg or your appendix: cut all Federal spending 5 percent (actual spending, not rates of increase) across the board, every two years for 10 years. As the morbidly obese beast becomes smaller its constituencies will be less virulent, and it will be easier to cut away the flab.

#13 Comment By Majumder On January 4, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

In the above photo of Nancy Polosi and John Boner, they look like a newly wed couple for sitting in such a close proximity to one another!!!

#14 Comment By cdugga On January 4, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

The democrats routed themselves by refusing to stand by the quarter million dollar income threshold (How much do congressmen make? Hmm?). Restoring the payroll tax was a no brainer and there really was no arguement from dems or repubs against it with the possible exception of the far fringe left. Like, wouldn’t it be nice if repubs were able to ignore the far fringe right as effectively? The repub arguement of cutting entitlements has worn thin, even in the dream world they live in. In reality it has been shredded by their own unwillingness to even offer what will be accepted eventually. That is means testing, upping upper income contributions, reducing pay adjustments and raising the age of eligibility while pushing states to adapt to establishing health care systems for their own people and working to reduce health care-medicare costs. But repubs did win since they where able to protect the income of the top earners by not touching any of the deductions they suggested they might, someday, somewhere, in a future far far away and after they are dead. And as pointed out on every conservative site, taxes are meaningless on the top earners since any costs are just passed along. Since that is the only revenue stream left open to dems, you can bet they will use the repubs own recommendations in any negotiations to reduce spending, and you can bet that any reductions to entitlements making ss and medicare more viable will come from plans introduced by the dems. Then the trueth will out about who will play politics with the very thing, the only thing, that can get repubs reelected by their base.
The neocons are dead Pat. They can beat all the drums they want, but the only way they will get this country to another middle east fiasco will be through subtrefuge and conspiring with Israel. So many over there and here just want peace and resolution of differences while those few (card carrying NRA members?) want conflict that lines their pockets. They are the guys that want civil war here and everywhere. Ideology is just a tool for money, and hate and division sell guns, and one dealer can play each side against the other until they gets smart, or that is, forever.

#15 Comment By Cliff On January 4, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

Let’s see, if the Rs are the Brits escaping Dunkirk, then I guess the Ds must be the Germans, which makes Harry Reid Guderian, I suppose, and Joe Biden is Keitel, and Obama must be… Oops, I think you just lost the argument!

More seriously, you say that “Even Lord Keynes would have wondered what these Americans were doing raising taxes on a recovering economy.” Very true, but he would have wondered just as much about cutting spending. I think he favored deficits in bad times.

“Obama has no more leverage.” I think events will disprove this — when the Rs propose to cut popular social programs, Obama is given leverage by the public’s negative reaction.

If the Rs truly want to cut spending, then let them man up and cut the Pentagon. That’s something that would pass the Senate, if the Rs gave political cover. It’s the Nixon-to-China scenario. And there’re a lot more low-hanging fruit there than anywhere else.

#16 Comment By libertarian jerry On January 4, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

For the last 50 years I’ve listened to the same rhetoric. When will people realize that there is no real difference between the Republicans and Democrats. That a voting American voting majority wants a socialist Welfare State. That socialism always fails when it runs out of other peoples money. That the money has run out. This is why,along with Warfare State and Bank bailouts, that America is bankrupt. What happens when our economy is destroyed by over taxation? What happens when no one will purchase our debt except the Federal Reserve central bank? Who is going to pay off an unsustainable debt? What happens when the dollar becomes worthless and we have massive inflation? What is needed is radical surgery on a very sick patient yet the so called conservatives in order to get along go along with the progressives(socialists) who are destroying our nation. What we need, in the end, is a Republican Party of Ron Pauls not a party of socialist light John Boehners.

#17 Comment By Nyte On January 4, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

Caved because they were routed or routed because they caved . . .

I think it’s the latter

#18 Comment By Patrick On January 5, 2013 @ 1:15 am

@ Don Walker:

Great comment (except I think it is 1.3 trillion, not 13 trillion.) Really, you can’t emphasize enough how after all of the years ragging on welfare programs, these folks took 1.3 trillion – that’s a lot of food stamps, eh? I hope honest left-wingers bring this up every single time someone shoots off at the mouth about social spending.

#19 Comment By An Anachronistic Apostle On January 5, 2013 @ 2:04 am

In the above photo of Nancy Polosi and John Boner, they look like a newly wed couple for sitting in such a close proximity to one another!!! — Mr. Majumdber

Forget their proximate positions. Their expressions suggest instead a shared, pained realization that all the adult kids are coming home to roost, if not the chickens.

#20 Comment By WorkingClass On January 5, 2013 @ 9:02 am

If Republicans wanted small government and balanced budgets they would have nominated Ron Paul. Endless war and corporate welfare is the agenda of both parties. Red state/blue state is a game for suckers. Legacy party partisans would be deeply ashamed of what they have done to the country if they weren’t so stupid.

#21 Comment By Don Walker On January 5, 2013 @ 10:02 am

Thanks for the compliment, Patrick.

It really is $13 trillion – read IT TAKES A PILLAGE by Nomi Prins, a former Wall Street operative.

#22 Comment By Oso Politico On January 5, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

If the Republicans don’t stand up and defend fiscal responsibility and smaller government, they may as well join the Democrat caucus.

#23 Comment By Richard Heldmann On January 5, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

Our country with its vast natural resources of oil, coal, natural gas, lumber and water is not headed to bankruptcy. An end to the fearmongering, please.

#24 Comment By David On January 6, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

When did the Republicans actually balance the budget, or, at the very least, make government smaller? Though it’s their mantra, it sure seems they govern just as Cheney said, “deficits don’t matter”. btw…why don’t we hear the R’s boasting about W. and Cheney? Were they not the greatest duo just 5 years ago?

#25 Comment By Gary Goodman On January 7, 2013 @ 7:23 am

When Cheney said, “deficits don’t matter”, he was — ironically since I hate(d) him — correct.

To understand is simple, but one must be able to look at anything from a different or opposite perspective.

A “budget deficit” is when the government sector creates and ADDS money to the non-government sector, creating a SURPLUS in the private sector.

A “budget deficit” is when the government sector DESTROYS or deletes money in the non-government sector, creating a DEFICIT in the private sector. That deficit can be reflected in a couple ways.

One, massive increase in private bank debt, borrowing, by citizens and businesses, just to keep up and/or grow. OK, tried that. Clinton’s budget surplus recession was only averted by the Bubble economy, Dot Com then Housing. The Bubble is over. The private sector owes some 250% of GDP, down from 300% of GDP. Healthy normal capitalist growth occurs around 50% private debt to GDP. That’s a long way down from $42 Trillion to $7 Trillion that Americans households DO have to pay off, or go bankrupt.

Two, Hard Long Recession.

Next definition on it’s head:
The National Debt equals Treasury Securities.
T-Securities are INVESTMENTS, considered “safe assets” by everyone on the planet. Congress *mandates* that Treasury offers these Securities to investors and savers. Mostly, T-Securities are where Banks store their surplus from customer savings. (Not only banks, corporations, trusts, even foreign private and central banks.)

Is it such a terrible thing that Americans have some 50% of $16 Trillion in Net Financial Savings, which they have parked through their banks (and pension funds, etc.) at the Fed in the form of Treasury Securities Assets?

China has a lot of financial profits from selling us stuff. Is it so terrible that they store their surplus USD in savings accounts at the Fed instead of checking (reserves) accounts?

Congress chooses that T-bills will pay interest. Either Treasury or the Fed sets those rates. The Bond Market has no say-so. What else can they do but leave their Dollars sitting in Reserves at 0.25 percent?

The “Debt” idea arises from the jargon and concepts of banking and accounting: Banks promise to give Depositors BACK their money. Is that so terrible that Uncle Sam promises to put savers’ deposits back into their checking accounts when due?

What is “Debt Reduction” but a rallying cry to liquidate and seize the Assets of American citizens, who must be “too rich” and must “give it back to the government”?

Again: National Debt *IS* American’s Wealth.

Congress could possibly eliminate the bogeyman of the phrase “National Debt”, by changing the rules, ending Treasury auctions, forbidding Treasury to issue more T-Bills, and/or permitting Treasury to issue T-Bills directly to the Fed, which may hold these forever and returns 100% of interest back to the Treasury today.

That’s the alternative to current rules that force Treasury to auction T-Bills to Zombie banks, which are permitted in several ways to borrow money from the Government in order to loan money to the Government.

(Obviously, the Government is not seeking the loan because it’s out of money for expenses, if it has to loan money to the banks first before they can loan it back. Again, it’s a SERVICE to rich people.)

If Treasury stopped issuing new T-Securities at auction, banks and everyone else would have to be content with parking their money at the Fed in reserve accounts, at whatever the Fed chooses to pay out.

This is DO-able, operationally. Politically, however, the Bank of International Settlements is claiming that the world has a shortage of “safe assets”, and that govts that have monetary sovereignty must provide MORE “safe assets” — i.e. more national debt — to the private sector and banks.

That is, Govt must “borrow” more regardless of Govt spending being in deficit or surplus, per the Fed’s global Grand-daddy.

Gary Goddmn
[4]
Counter Insurgency, Deficit Terrorist Unit

#26 Comment By Gary Goodman On January 7, 2013 @ 7:24 am

TYPO CORRECTION

A “budget SURPLUS” is when the government sector DESTROYS or deletes money in the non-government sector,

#27 Comment By Tim S. On January 7, 2013 @ 11:18 am

Sometimes I wonder why House Republicans have such a hard time putting together coherent strategies and positions, and then I read Pat Buchanan and am awed that he has any influence over the political landscape at all.

Republicans shouldn’t compromise? That’s why they got such a terrible deal. Obama’s last, pre-Plan B offer was an excruciating concession for liberals, but Boehner didn’t want to compromise and take it. I guess that also lambasts the idea that the President was not negotiating in good faith.

Then, to invoke Keynesian economics as reason not to raise taxes on a recovering economy, when in truth all he wants to do is decimate government spending to the same effect, is ignorantly hypocritical at best.

I disagree when Pat dictates the Democratic positions; no wonder anyone who actually takes him seriously foams at the mouth about “those socialists”. The debt does indeed need to be addressed for the long-term, but we’re currently in an EMPLOYMENT crisis.

I voted for Obama twice. I want to see conservatism have a seat at the table, because I believe that a balanced approach to debt reduction is the best solution. I also read a lot of common sense solutions on this site, which are usually entirely overshadowed by the ravings of its editor in chief. Don’t listen to Pat and marginalize yourselves into check-mate positions the way Boehner did. Your country needs you.

#28 Comment By Zeke Notlin On January 9, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

Was the word “poor” used by either candidate in this last cycle?

My wondering is I simply no longer see the Democrats as the party of nagging white guilt of the 60s and 70s, but instead the only ones conscious that extreme concentrations of wealth paralyze a consumer economy because they weaken demand.

It seems utterly obvious to me that any post industrial society builds wealth through the development of intellectual property, and to get that you need a middle class that’s at ease spending money (read-there are safety nets) to democratize the capital so it flows to the most deserving innovators/services/risk takers.

Maybe I’m wrong, and their end game is to get everyone hooked on unemployment for votes as Mr. Buchanan asserts, but from where I’m sitting they look more like the party of patriots, and commerce.