First Defeat Obama

Am scrambling to leave for the airport to spend a few days back East for a reunion of my wife’s family, but I just came across this item in the Wall Street Journal, and–at the risk of forgetting to pack my socks or underwear–couldn’t resist posting it.  By economist Carl Pirrong, the item states in a few hundred words the selfsame thoughts that I struggled, meanderingly and blunderingly, to express when we recorded the podcast this ayem.  To wit:

Obama operates under the ratchet theory of government. Once ratcheted up, spending cannot ratchet down. Spending that was not missed yesterday is imperative tomorrow, once it has been adopted today. Which means that doing any deal based on Ratchet Man’s promises that he will cut future spending is a mug’s game.

Addressing the nation’s long term—and not really that long term, actually—danger of government insolvency cannot be done in the context of annual budgeting. The crux of the problem is entitlements, and attacking that problem requires fundamental restructuring of the programs, where this restructuring will likely require features (e.g., supermajority requirements) that make it difficult for future Congresses and administrations to renege on the commitments inherent in the legislation mandating the restructuring.

That will not happen while Obama is in office. Period. Which is exactly why 2012 is the only thing that matters, and that doing a deal today or forcing a triggering of the debt ceiling that will have extremely unpredictable economic and political consequences is foolhardy.

Defeat Obama.  Everything–including negotiations on the debt ceiling–must be subordinated to that single and historic imperative.

Bye now.

  1. Aaron Miller
    Peter Robinson:

    Defeat Obama.  Everything–including negotiations on the debt ceiling–must be subordinated to that single and historic imperative.

    Agreed. Nothing will matter if Obama is reelected.

    The tricky part is determining what Republicans must do to defeat Obama while simultaneously keeping pressure on Republicans to compromise only as much as is necessary.

    Republicans are notoriously bad at advertising and public relations. But if we assume that they will not improve, that takes pressure off them to improve and we are perhaps left with unnecessarily big compromises. If we want them to hold the line as much as is possible and still defeat Obama, then we must expect them to perform better than they have done so far.

  2. Underground Conservative

    Cool!  Craig Pirrong is my favorite blogger and is a friend of mine.  He does great stuff on Russia, too.  Check out Streetwise Professor. I’d love to get him on Ricochet.

  3. Sisyphus

    That first sentence could just as easily read: Washington operates under the ratchet theory of government. The game pre-Tea Party was for Republicans to promise limited government and deliver Medicare part D. Now the usual suspects malign and libel the Tea Party, which doesn’t get any smaller for all the drama.

    Travel well, Peter.

  4. David Williamson

    Err, yes – I think the Republicans in the House and Senate have said as much.

    Get Mr Murphy on the case, right away!

  5. George Savage

    Yes, we must defeat Obama.  And if Republicans refuse to use the power bequeathed them last November to stand athwart socialism yelling, “Stop!” the president will point forevermore to the bipartisan imprimatur on his grand design; the tea partiers will pick up their bats and balls and go home, or form a third-party, and so into irrelevancy.  

    And then we are finished.

    Say what you will about our political opponents on the left, they know how to fight and they never ever give up.

    Defeating Obama in 2012 requires, absolutely requires, spending to come down.  Immediately.  Right now.  Spending can decrease modestly via a sensible deal to exchange a debt limit increase for structural budgetary reforms, or all at once.  This choice belongs to the Democrats.

    What is a debt ceiling for if it isn’t, in fact, at some point, a ceiling?

    And what is a Republican party for if, when out of power, spending rockets upward, and then when bequeathed the power of the purse, spending and taxes rocket upward?

  6. DocJay

    This article puts a much better explanation to my feelings on the crisis that we face now.  The smaller the deal now the better, get Mr Obama the heck out of the peoples’ house, and if the GOP cannot handle the real task in 2013 then a pox on them for letting America fall.

  7. One-Eyed Jack

     Borrowing must stop. Everything–including political manuvering–must be subordinated to that single and historic imperative.

  8. Bryan G. Stephens

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    George Savage:

    And what is a Republican party for if, when out of power, spending rockets upward, and then when bequeathed the power of the purse, spending and taxes rocket upward? · Jul 20 at 3:27pm

    Edited on Jul 20 at 03:29 pm

  9. Aaron Miller
    George Savage:

    What is a debt ceiling for if it isn’t, in fact, at some point, a ceiling?

    Republicans should put that on billboards everywhere.

  10. Paul A. Rahe
    C

    Defeating Obama is not enough. We have to elect a principled, conservative President with the courage and determination to cut back dramatically the administrative entitlements state.

  11. cdor

    The latest from Obama…he will accept a short term deal. Call his newest bluff and offer a very short term deal. How about six months?

  12. The King Prawn
    Paul A. Rahe: Defeating Obama is not enough. We have to elect a principled, conservative President with the courage and determination to cut back dramatically the administrative entitlements state. · Jul 20 at 3:55pm

    A few principled representatives and senators wouldn’t be a horrible deal either.

  13. John H.

    I think the future holds more Obamas, not fewer. (But then I do live in a college town.) Merely evicting the Obama we have right now, tho’ laudable, is insufficient to the point of triviality. 

    I understand there used to be – maybe still is – a joke in Paraguay, about people of a certain political bent being identifiable by an abnormally shortened finger. It came from their rapping it on a tabletop and insisting, “This is the year we get rid of Stroessner!”

  14. dogsbody

    First defeat Obama.  Even more important:  defeat the evil ideology of “liberalism”–otherwise, as John H. says, there will be many more Obamas.

  15. Michael Patrick Tracy

    We must take the Senate, as well.

    The American people might well get over their historical preference for a divided Federal government under these extrordinarily dire circumstance.

    Sure, it would be a welcome change not to have him engaging in his Straw Man Argument of the Day in the bully pulpit, appointing Federal judges and Supremes, and issuing Executive Orders that make a mockery of the Constitution–but let’s not lose sight of the Senate.

  16. Freesmith

    There are fewer Democrat members of the House of Representatives today than at any time since 1946.

    On the way to Zero!

    Defeating Obama is only a part of the solution. Get with the program:

    Elect no Democrat anywhere, ever.

  17. The King Prawn
    Freesmith:

    Elect no Democrat anywhere, ever. · Jul 20 at 4:49pm

    Since I live in Washington State I can vote anti-incumbent and never vote for a democrat.

  18. Yeah...ok.

    The time is now.

  19. Richard Young

    Peter, I agree with the thrust of your post. Given that the only Republican who thus far polls effectively against Obama is Romney, doesn’t that suggest you should open your mind a bit more to him as the Republican nominee?

  20. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    The King Prawn

    Paul A. Rahe: Defeating Obama is not enough. We have to elect a principled, conservative President with the courage and determination to cut back dramatically the administrative entitlements state. · Jul 20 at 3:55pm

    A few principled representatives and senators wouldn’t be a horrible deal either. · Jul 20 at 4:04pm

    Uh, no. It would do no harm at all. The more, in fact, the merrier.

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