Skip to comments.Mark Steyn's sober analysis of the debt crisis, and whether the GOP even understand it.
Posted on 03/04/2011 2:03:09 AM PST by Rummyfan
HH: I begin this hour with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of Marks work at www.steynonline.com. I find him tonight in Canada. Hello, Mark, and good evening to you.
MS: No, no. Im actually in Michigan, which actually isnt in Canada, although in fact judging from what I got into trouble for saying about Detroit, it wouldnt even rise to the standard of Canada. Im in the state of Michigan.
HH: Well, Im glad to hear youre in the Wolverine state. Watch out for rappers driving big, black cars around. This is how we roll. Mark Steyn, I began this week to really hammer Republicans in the House, because they are moving so slow and they lack a message. So Im going to test my concern against yours. Do you think the House Republicans are blowing it?
MS: Yeah. I think November seems a long way away. And I think theyre missing the big lesson of the last two years, which is that the Tea Party, and a broader swathe of the American public who are concerned about, particularly about American spending and the debt crisis, agreed in the last electoral cycle to work within the confines of the Republican Party they had very little regard for. The Republican leadership needed to get that message, because its not going to be good for this Republican party if they say okay, we forgave you for 2006, we forgave you for that, and we gave you a second chance, and now youve burned the second chance.
HH: Now the Wall Street Journal today put out one of these classic polls that begins to show the turning of the MSM tide against budget cutting, saying that less than a quarter of Americans support making significant cuts to Social Security or Medicare. This is one of those manufactured polls, Mark. Theyre going to try and persuade the House GOP and other budget cutters that there really isnt support in the country for cutting budgets.
MS: Well, and it doesnt make any difference. I mean, polls show that more American males would rather date Ann Hathaway than Helen Thomas. But it doesnt mean its going to happen. And in this case, the polls can say what they like. But the fact is, these entitlements are unsustainable. So Americans can tell pollsters that theyre quite happy with 1930s entitlement provisions for Social Security, but it aint going to be there. And the longer it takes you to figure that out, the more likely it is that this country will simply slide off a cliff. And I mean that not entirely literally, but I mean that we will reduce vast swathes of the United States to a third world landscape. This country is broke. Dont go from being broke to being bankrupt. This isnt anything to do with mid-century projections. This is happening now. Weve got maybe a couple of years to turn this around before the world abandons the dollar as the reserve currency.
HH: Now that I believe, and I believe that a lot of Americans, at least a majority of people who voted for Republicans believe that. But what I dont see is that sense of urgency reflected in John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthys engagement with the media. Have I missed it? Have you seen it, Mark Steyn?
MS: No, no. I dont think so at all. I think theyre toying with symbolic gestures. This House vote on the 1099 provision, where 1099 is one of these tedious bits of government paperwork that the Congress thought it could actually increase the burden that this tedious paperwork imposes on small businesses. But these are, in the end, mainly symbolic gestures. Cutting $4 billion dollars when youve got a budget thats crashing up against $4 trillion dollars is just not going to cut it. And thats, as you say, thats whats missing, the sense of urgency. Theres a kind of complacency about this, as if the canoes just sort of drifting toward the falls, but weve still got plenty of time to paddle for shore in a couple of decades.
HH: Well, I had Sean Spicer as the new RNC communications director on yesterday, and look up, and Im talking to Sean Spicer, and I see Eric Cantor chattering away with Wolf Blitzer. And I asked him, who does Eric think hes talking to? And I wonder, Mark Steyn, none of the House leadership went to the Tea Party Patriots summit, not one of them.
HH: And it makes me think theyre in a cocoon inside of the Beltway.
MS: Yeah, and I think the cocoon, actually, isnt up to speed on this, because I think if you listen to the way the conversation in the Beltway is going, theyre saying well, yes, perhaps we do need a spending cut here and a spending cut there, cutting the Great Lakes Restoration initiative, or whatever the Presidents big idea is. But we also need to increase revenue by putting up taxes. Theres no, all the evidence shows you cant get revenue up beyond about 19% of GDP. So if youre spending 25% of GDP on government spending, you cant increase that with revenue. And thats the problem when John Boehner and the Republican leadership just talks to Wolf Blitzer and the New York Times and all the rest of it. Theyre not actually even asking the right questions. And I think this will, I think that this is very dangerous as we go into the 2012 cycle, that the Republican leadership is already demonstrating how far out of touch it is.
HH: I agree with that. Now why is it that a Scott Walker, and especially in Ohio, nobody notices this, but yesterday, the Ohio State Senate passed a deeply important bill about reducing collective bargaining rights, far more significant than whats happened in Wisconsin, because its guaranteed now of passing. What do Kasich and Walker know that the Beltway Republicans dont?
MS: Well, I think because generally speaking, the closer government is to the people, the more real it is if things are working well. So theres more chance of fixing some of these problems at state and country and municipal level. I think one of the problems with the government of the United States is that they, over the last few decades, is theres been this colossal expansion of national government, national legislation, national agencies, national regulations. When youre seen in Washington, you must feel like a kind of emperor. Youre sitting there everything has, you know, zeroes upon zeroes stuck at the end of it, youre legislating for 350 million people, and I think too many of these guys think its sort of still 1950, and American is the last superpower standing, and it will always be that way. And thats whats so depressing about Washington. Washington is like entering a time warp. It has no idea of the severity of the crisis, and how the world is already beginning to move on to the post-American era.
HH: Did you chance to read or hear Donald Trump on with Rush talking about the challenge from the Chinese yesterday or the day before, Mark Steyn?
MS: Yeah, I love the way every time he slammed a different nation state, whether it was the Chinese or the South Koreans, he said Ive worked with these guys, I sold them some unwanted apartment development for $300 million dollars or whatever. And theyre lovely guys, but theyre, I dont blame them for what theyre doing, for taking advantage of us. And I thought in that sense, actually, he has the kind of making, in a crude way, of some sort of political message there.
HH: Well, it was the echo of John Connally in 1980, saying to the Japanese you can park your cars on the dock, and we are not going to import them. Thats not the way to deal with this, though. I kind of think of him as the Aaron Burr of 2012. But the fact that Trump is out there and resonating, and Rush likes to hear it and it sounds good tells me that what hes filling is a vacuum for blunt talk that the D.C. Republicans, the Beltway GOP, just doesnt understand is everything in this cycle.
MS: Yeah, but just to go back to what he was saying, I mean, he did say, and my understanding of what he was saying is that he didnt blame the Chinese and the South Koreans, and everyone else, for taking advantage of us.
HH: No, he didnt. Thats right.
MS: I mean, basically, we cant blame the Chinese. What theyre doing, but Beijings point of view, is highly rational. What the rest of the world is doing, from the rest of the worlds point of view, this is suicide. Theres no point looking for scapegoats. This is national suicide on a scale that no nation in history has contemplated.
HH: Mark Steyn, last question, do does anyone inside the Beltway stand up and say to you, when you hear them talk, I understand what you just said, is it Paul Ryan, is it anybody, Tom Coburn, communicates to you effectively that they understand this?
MS: Yeah, I think the other day, I saw a couple of freshmen Congressmen who were elected in November, who certainly do understand it, and were specifically elected on a platform to address these issues. But the somnolent party leadership in Washington has basically just climbed back into the Bob Dole suits, and the whole idea is theres no urgency, theres no crisis. Okay, the numbers dont look great for 2030 or 2040, but lets not rush into anything. And that just aint going to cut it.
HH: Are you disappointed Mitch Daniels is not going to run, and John Thune have gotten out?
MS: Well, I think theyre, I think they have seen that actually, the House GOP is perhaps creating the circumstances in which Obama will be able to secure some kind of reelection. And I think a lot of these guys have just figured out that the way things are going, from their point of view, theyd rather wait for 2016. The question is whether America can wait until 2016.
HH: Mark Steyn of www.steynonline.com, thank you, Mark.
Steyn is being very generous when he says we have 2 years as the world’s currency reserve. It might take that long to implement it, but the decision to TRY has already been made by various players in the game.
I think he’s right, that the GOP leadership doesn’t “get it”. Sadly, the media seems immune to grasping the problem as well, which is amazing, because they would be some of the first to scream bloody murder at losing their wealth.
Various people here have said that GOP needs time to cut the budget. From what they’ve been saying and doing, I don’t think time is the issue. They don’t get it. They won’t really try. I don’t see a happy ending here.
I suppose he would rather our elected officials just pull a Wisconsin. Throw up their hands, flee the capitol, and run around their districts with vulgar disgusting signs.
I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll soon have military coups in Western Democracies, in order to simply survive.
Steyn puts it in a nutshell for us.
You are absolutely right. There are plenty of faithful Republicans on this site who will defend what Republican leadership is doind in D.C. There is no sense of urgency among them. They are so proud of cutting $60 billion dollars, while the deficit is $1.6 trillion for the year.
Perhaps the majority of Americans won't be happy with drastic budget cuts. And perhaps the cuts wouldn't get past the Senate, or past Obama's veto. But if you don't try, you won't have any excuse when the whole house of cards collapses. And the collapse is imminent. The only ones who will be able to hold their head up high will be those who called for drastic cuts, no matter how unpopular those cuts were.
I think we’re the ones who don’t get it. The politicians know we’re screwed.
I would support that. Shut down the government for real. Not just a temporary shutdown due to lack of funding. Board up the windows and doors. Throw a going out of business sale and call it a day.
I will be amazed if the USD is still the currency reserve by December of this year.
Sometime between the end of June and the end of December, reserve currency status will be de-facto ended. The USD will then devalue by 80%.
Yes, 80%! This is because the debt-per-taxpayer on the current debt comes to about 24,000 a year. The highest conceivable level of personal taxation that can go into repaying that is ~ 10%, so the average wage must rise to 240,000 a year. Which is a ~ five fold increase from todays average wage of 45000 USD.
Do not be in (USD) cash after June 30th. If you are then at some point you will be wiped out.
Perhaps a little perspective is needed:
A million seconds is 12 days.
A billion seconds is 31 years.
A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.
So GOP, tell me again what BIG deal 60 Billion is.
No longer having the worlds reserve currency is a big deal but not that big a deal. No longer having the worlds reserve currency with a debt to GDP ratio greater than 100% is a very big deal, we’re-going-to-have-to-let-grandma-die level of big deal. I give that three to six years.
Even the freshmen think balancing the budget in 7 years is good enough. They are wrong. There will be some sort of crisis in the next seven years and that will sink us unless we have the discipline to live within our means now. Note that the time from the 1994 to 2001 was seven years.
Note that a lot of our US Debt bonds are short term bonds. We got a better interest rate that way. As they roll over, our debt will climb way higher.
Fine, shut down the government but don’t expect the leftists to sign onto our budget demands. Not going to happen.
You don't follow my meaning. I'm not saying shut it down as a temporary tactic. I'm saying SHUT IT DOWN---permanently.
You have an effective turn of phrase, LOL.
For the thread: I fix upon June 30th because that is when QE2 is slated to end: the markets have already priced in QE2 ending on that date.
Only it will not end. The US will not have sold assets nor meaningfully addressed its spending by that date - because Obama is still President. Therefore QE2 MUST carry on under some guise or other.
Nobody will buy treasury bills under a QE_infinity regime, and the interest rate cannot be significantly increased without geometrically increasing debt service payments. So the current high (70%) takeup of bills by the Fed will move towards 100%.
Once QE_infinity begins: Foreign Governments will look for ways to distance themselves from use of USD as a reserve - not because they hate America, but out of simple self-preservation.
The timing of how quickly that happens is pretty much a guess. I think it will happen between June and December. Others give it a year or so. But for all we know the currency will begin to de-reserve and de-value on the 4th July.
Steyn is being very generous when he says we have 2 years as the worlds currency reserve. It might take that long to implement it, but the decision to TRY has already been made by various players in the game.
We might have 2 years if we actually prosecute the banksters instead of digging our country deeper in their 40:1 leveraged debt crisis...
“Steyn is being very generous when he says we have 2 years as the worlds currency reserve. It might take that long to implement it, but the decision to TRY has already been made by various players in the game.”
You’re right. Once we are no longer the reserve currency, we will be forced to borrow money in other currencies, lake the Yawn. At that point, once the dollar drops in value, the debt shoots up...the dollar drops more...the debt shoots up further and it’s game over...default...hyperinflation.
If we were willing to jettison Social Security as an entitlement and instead make it a much-cheaper means-tested program we could probably prevent that outcome. Since I have kids, I support that...many on this site and I guess none of the Democrats have kids, so that’s not going happen.
Instead we’ll simply wipe out the country, and those PRECIOUS Social Security checks will still go bye-bye (or be worthless)...but what the hell, that outcome’s ok because EVERYONE gets thrown into the gutter.
“I think were the ones who dont get it. The politicians know were screwed.”
You might be right. If that’s the case, the politicians’ “Plan-B” to save themselves better be pretty damn good.
Talking of Plan-B: I think the Cayman islands are going to offer ‘permanent residency’ to anyone who can pay them a million bucks.
They're ignoring the fact that Federal spending has gone up 25% in the past two years. The best the Republicans can muster is a 2% cut? I call BS. 25% right off the top should be easy. There is so much overlap in gubmint programs, waste, fraud, abuse, etc., if anything there are so many places to cut and cut deep that the task is overwhelming. The Republicans give me the impression that they aren't serious about anything. Either they don't understand the dire circumstances we are in or they want the USA to fail. I'm starting to think more and more with every passing day it's the latter.....
Yup. Someone needs to correlate and publish a graphic of worldwide per capita public debt by country. The US citizens would rank amongst the world's poorest. Way behind Zimbabweans and most other 3rd world nations. The politicians know this and are just looting the last debt-funded pickings they can before the nation's credit is exhausted.
Cutting waste will save millions. Maybe -- maybe! -- billions.
We need to cut entire Depts. -- Education, EPA, Homeland security, USDA, just defund them. That's how you save hundreds of billions. And entitlements. They need to be radically re-configured, and millions of Americans have to lose stuff that they think they deserve to have.
Government bureaucrats will get rid of waste, fraud, and abuse all by themselves when really serious budget cuts are forced upon them. We need to make two trillion dollars in cuts, at least. Looking for fraud won't get us there, and if we get people focused on looking for fraud they won't focus on what we need to do.
Just my two cents.
The GAO came out with a report, must have been about 7-8 years ago now, that stated 1/3rd of every dollar taken in in taxes is wasted or stolen. That would be a good place to start if you axe me. If you could eliminate half that it would amount to hundreds of billions of dollars alone. Shut down the Department of Energy, Department of Education, HUD, privatize TVA, end AMTRAK, and on and on and on. I think it’d be really easy to cut a trillion dollars out of the budget......
The amount of potential waste, fraud and abuse that we could find is enormous. The amount that politicians and bureaucrats would find is minuscule. I think a meat cleaver approach is the only way that makes sense. I wouldn't specifically target waste -- I'd target entire $200B Dept budgets and say "Gone!"
If we stumble over $50,000 spent on ash trays, then, sure, I'd cut that as well. But it wouldn't be what I'd focus on. You can't empty the septic tank with a teaspoon.
Yep, they’re all out to lunch—including Paul Ryan, who has battled against the freshman Reps. Too many people see him as a savior here, but he’s fiddling away precious time—and our country’s precious money.
The insanity is thinking that career politicians, and the political dynamics that have created “career politicians”, perpetually promising more, basking in power, and kicking the can down the road, will suddenly do a 180 and forget about their own perks and power for the benefit of the country.
Nothing that has been done in D.C, for decades now has been about personal sacrifice of power and perks for the benefit of the country. And most definitely, nothing about D.C. has been about blunt, honest communication.
Where are these guys on entitlement reform? It’s not as if they haven’t had a few decades to hone their proposals—or had four months now to get their newly elected colleagues up to speed.
Obama didn’t waste any time after being sworn in to start jamming Obamacare through. If he’d fiddled like Ryan and the rest of the GOP leadership, it never would have passed.
As I read this....I think of the movie”On The Beach”...The scene where Fred Astaire realizes at long last that the end is near. He closes the garage door,puts a blanket against the bottom of the door..gets into his sports car, starts the engine..revs it and smiles in resignation as the scene fades...I think of that scene frequently these days..
It amazes me that the focus is on cutting social security and medicare.
Why do we hear nothing about cutting welfare, section 8, food stamps, free cars and cell phones?
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth?
10 ¶ I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
Depressing, because when Mark Steyn sees it happening, it usually is...
Yep. The GOP took power because of the Tea Party and others with similar views, yet the GOP elite is still setting the agenda.
Mark Steyn ping.
Freep mail me, if you want on or off the Mark Steyn ping list.
Thanks for the ping knews_hound.
When that happens, dems will keep spending at an ever faster rate ON THEIR PET VICTIM GROUPS. Tax money will go to gang bangers, drug addicts, and Bill Ayers type radicals etc. WHILE grannie goes hungry and Grannies' kids go broke trying to keep her alive.
The MSM will showcases the misery - blaming the GOP every step of the way. And the country will still go broke.
While dems are spending it up on Unions, GM, the VOLT, PBS, fat pensions for Gov. workers etc (see above) - any and everyone liberal. All the sacrifice by the conservative elderly middle class will become a joke as same old liberal groups get MORE money than ever.
Remember when dems talked the first President Bush to go back on his word about 'no new taxes' - said he had to do it for the good of the country. Then when he did, they hung and beat him with his goodness. Really, it's a trap. We can't make this mess better if dems have eliminated us. Steyn doesn't get this one.
true. defund the usual suspects instead. Drastically defund, eliminate, throw out.
eg., PBS...they get 301 million per year just on Sesame Street products. Cut them loose!
Especially when liberal Democrats are claiming SS has piled up a huge surplus/trust fund. Until that nonsense is effectively challenged it is pointless to try anything regarding SS.
A good way of looking at the scenario above would be to compare it with Dems ramming through unpopular Obama-care bill. But in that case Obama had the WH so the off-year 2010 election loses were not that bad a thing for him personally.
Screw the politics...balance the budget.
Treat Americans like adults for a change. When things are properly explained, the people will respond.
The choice is some discomfort now or catastrophe later. And that choice was provided courtesy of the Democrats.
The average moron is so deluded at this point, I see nothing but a complete collapse on the way. We deserve it for the stupidity we have at all levels of the govt and populace at large.
Sad but true.
The average moron is so deluded at this point, I see nothing but a complete collapse on the way. We deserve it for the stupidity we have at all levels of the govt and populace at large.
Sad but true.
Dems will barbecue us at the voting booth if we did that - and when we're out of power they'll spend so much you'll wish we could go back to this time. Look what they did with "obamacare"... Took over a huge chunk of the economy. Now they mucking with business and tax incentives that will gin up the economy for 2012 - and will cause a crash we'll never get over. And you want to play naive? They would love to have us throw our supporters under the bus ... Look how the MSM is starting to question Republicans about Social Security. They want us to take the hit. IT WILL NOT STOP THE SPENDING. When dems dump us, they'll spend MORE - on their voters.
We need to cut EVERY program that basically serves democrats - ( that's everything except Social Security and Highway and Internet construction)
Are you running for president? You have my vote! :)
I really don’t care anymore.
If the crisis is so plain to me, it can be made plain to most other people also.
The choice is a possible political crash in 2012 or a DEFINITE financial and societal crash shortly thereafter.
It’s that bad. No more time to play Republicans and Democrats. We’ve been past that trivial nonsense for quite some time now.
I agree with you. The GOP is doing what it can while not allowing Obama to paint them as a villain. They have to keep in mind the fact that doing too much too fast (especally when the Senate can stall and Obama veto) is a lost cause which will end up making things worse.
Has no one learned from 2008? How did not electing McCain help us? Most of you know I despise that guy, but at least we would have had Palin as VP and our energy industry wouldn’t have been under attack.
The idea is to save the country, not score cheap political points in a suicide mission. Are things bad? Yes. Will panicking the population be productive? No. Will it help us to keep Obama in office for 4 more years? No.
This is going to be a 2-year war of attrition with the dems. We are going to have to push for a concession here, a roll-back there. Until we can grab the Senate and hopefully unseat Obama this is what the House has to do.
Steyn is looking at this from the “if I had a magic wand” point of view. Fine, but Boehner doesn’t have one, and whatever the House does, the Senate is bent right now on stopping.
Steyn is looking at this from the if I had a magic wand point of view. Fine, but Boehner doesnt have one, and whatever the House does, the Senate is bent right now on stopping.
You're right - insightful stuff Miss Marple.