Skip to comments.Conservatives Should End the Debt Ceiling Debate
Posted on 01/15/2013 4:27:03 AM PST by Kaslin
Watching the American scene in the 1960s, historian Daniel Boorstin, invented the idea of the pseudo-event. The rise of television and modern mass media had produced a transformation of the news business, so that what now mattered was not if an event was important, but only if it was newsworthy.
As Boorstin explained, the pseudo-event was orchestrated and planned to receive maximum public attention, even if the event itself was really unimportant. Pseudo-events merely look important, because the media and the public agree to act as if they are. As Boorstin explained, the pseudo-event is not something that happens by mistake, like a train wreck or an accident. It is something planted primarily for the immediate purpose of being reported. Lastly, Boorstin asserted, the pseudo-event is intended to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sound familiar? The pseudo-event is the driving force of American political life today, and it is a game increasingly played by both major political parties. The fiscal cliff was the most embarrassing recent example of a pseudo-event. Democrats and Republicans alike conspired to create a fake political crisis that each party thought would work to its own advantage. Both parties gambled that public outrage over the loss of Bush-era tax cuts would create a manufactured political crisis that would give the party and its allies political leverage.
Democrats gambled that they would get new tax revenues out of the crisis, while Republicans hoped for spending cuts. In the end, the negotiated fix for the pseudo-crisis was a weak combination of increased tax revenue and promised, yet unspecified, spending cuts.
The entire enterprise was tantamount to a war game played with live ammunition. Both sides claimed a modicum of victory and promised to play the game to better advantage next time. Neither side was willing to deal with what the real crisis of governance represents. The fiscal cliff was just a dramatic distraction from the real crisis.
As columnist David Brooks argued, Far from laying the groundwork for future cooperation, it sentences the country to another few years of budget trench warfare. There will be a fight over drastic spending cuts known as sequestration, then over the debt limit and on and on.
As Brooks predicted, the same debacle is now being played out with the debt limit pseudo-event. Both parties are jockeying for position. The nation has already exceeded the $16.4 trillion borrowing limit previously set by Congress. A bit of financial finagling by the Department of the Treasury has bought just a bit of time before Congress must raise the debt ceiling once again. Otherwise the United States will default on its debt.
How did this happen? Congress approved the spending, as did the President. The spending, which necessitated the borrowing, was approved by the very people who will not debate whether to pay the bills they themselves created.
Federal law requires Congress to establish a limit to national borrowing, but the U. S. Constitution requires the government to pay its debts. The debt limit requirement is merely a matter of law. The pledge to pay the nations debt is a mandate of the Constitution. The debt ceiling is now a political abstraction, used by both parties to create a pseudo-event.
Conservatives should be particularly unwilling to participate in such a charade, and yet many do so, thinking they can use the pseudo-event to their advantage. It is a losing game, dishonest politics, and a failure of governance.
It is intended to direct the nations attention away from the real crisis and onto the pseudo-event. It avoids dealing with the real disaster that looms before us.
Once again, David Brooks nailed the real issue: Public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product was around 38 percent in 1965. It is around 74 percent now. Debt could approach a ruinous 90 percent of G.D.P. in a decade and a cataclysmic 247 percent of G.D.P. 30 years from now, according to the Congressional Budget Office and JPMorgan.
But, do politicians bear all the blame? Not hardly. The public has an insatiable appetite for pseudo-events and a horrified aversion to the truth. Why? We are approaching the point that voters will not deal with the issue because it will cost them their entitlements. They will be glad for their children and grandchildren to pay the catastrophic debt.
As Brooks explains:
Ultimately, we should blame the American voters. The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute. This is $234,000 in free money. Many voters have decided they like spending a lot on themselves and pushing costs onto their children and grandchildren. They have decided they like borrowing up to $1 trillion a year for tax credits, disability payments, defense contracts and the rest. They have found that the original Keynesian rationale for these deficits provides a perfect cover for permanent deficit-living. They have made it clear that they will destroy any politician who tries to stop them from cost-shifting in this way.
Given this political reality, fiscal conservatives are insane to believe that these pseudo-events play to their advantage. Each solution to a false crisis actually lets the American people and the political class claim a false victory even as the real crisis grows far worse.
Conservatives should point out that the Constitution demands the nation pay its debts, and that Congress and the President must take responsibility for the spending and the massive borrowing their actions mandate. Conservatives should point to the real crisis, stand on principle, and refuse to distract themselves and the American people with false crises and pseudo-events.
In the end, pseudo-events only serve to make the problem worse, never better. We cannot deal with the real crisis, if we keep playing the game of the pseudo-event.
I believe the only way to end this mess...is a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget, with no options out for the President, or the Congress. When you ask for lesser qualified leadership, and the candidate-winner doesn’t know what a budget is....you, the voter, are really the cause of the mess to start with.
I highly recommend his "The Americans, The Colonial Experience."
"Pseudo-events merely look important, because the media and the public agree to act as if they are."
...much like the constitution and paper money.
“The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute.”
This is the sort of justification the Marxist use all the time. “Look how much you get” sort of nonsense. The $343,000 benefit is inflated with fraud, graft, pork, administrative costs, etc. The average person might receive only $10,000 of true medical benefits for their money, had the government not been involved in the first place!
An excellent piece.
The message We the People need to send to those who are supposed to be representing us, loud and clear, is “It’s the unconstitutional spending, stupid!”
“Ultimately, we should blame the American voters. The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute. This is $234,000 in free money. "
Brooks is a) repeating Obama talking points (no doubt with a NYT editor at his desk, pointing a gun at his head) and b) being dishonest. Brooks is comparing undiscounted 1965 and 1975 dollars to current dollars, which are worth about 1/4 as much, or less.
And Brooks and Mohler both know that this situation was deliberately created by Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson bribing voters to vote Democrat, using government money to do it, but neither one of them is telling it like it happened.
$234,000 is less than six years of benefits for the typical baby momma on welfare, food stamps and WIC.
Nor is the question asked of where the ‘extra’ $$$ is coming from (as one HAS to presume the gov’t isn’t investing those contributions to accrue any interest to pay out)
IF there’s one pet peeve it’s I really wish we’d get away from using using the phony verbiage of D.C. - investments (spending), revenue (tax increased) and in your statement ‘government money’ (taxpayer money).
If we can break it down into their true components, the verbal battle CAN be won, but not by co-opting or hiding the details in ‘1984’ garbage.
I never lost money betting that this GOP would fail. But let me try once again:
Now that the R House has made an issue out of the debt ceiling and got O and Dems to focus their rhetoric on that, they should be less predictable and pass a short term debt ceiling but make the upcoming CR bill the issue using all the words O_Dems used against them:
1) Obama said congress forced him to spend that money
2) Obama said many times that Republicans should go after spending and not ‘default on out obligations’
Assemble videos of these compiled clips, post to youtube, get on all the TV shows with a hand viewer (I phone or I pad) if necessary and play them to illustrate the point.
How come Rs are not on TV pointing out that Dems say that entitlements will be cut unless more debt is authorized? Dont Dems claim over and over that those same entitlements are solvent for another 15 to 20 years? So pay them with the 'trust fund' instead of new debt LOL. My real point is to use this as a teaching moment, like O always does to beat Rs.
Beating O takes more than tough talk, a few symbolic 'No's and then caving again.
In the case of the budget, the GOP should be presenting the argument in the form of ‘questions’ for the Democrats.
“Is there a limit to the amount of government spending that we can sustain? If not, why? If so, what is that limit?”
“Can we tax our way out of our deficit and cumulative national debt? If so, show the numbers and how that works, and explain why you think that level of taxation will not disincentivize significant segments of the economy? If not, then what is the point of making tax rates the number one focus of budgetary debate?”
“What industries are driving the American economy, and what are we doing to encourage their growth?” If we are instead discouraging their growth, why are we doing that?”
The list is a long one, but each and every one of the relevant questions should be accompanied by succinct numbers, calculations, and charts. You don't argue with liberals without the facts in hand, and you have to argue with them publicly. The goal is to make them look to the public like the liars and head in the sand ideologues that they are. This is what Romney did to ‘the one’ in that first debate. I totally disagree with the premise that the public’s eyes glaze over and they don't pay attention when numbers are thrown out there. If that happens, you're not presenting the data compellingly enough. IMHO.
The author made it seem like the taxpayer was getting ripped off to the tune of $234000. I think the rip off is giving that much to someone for laying on their lazy butt.
Republicans need to flood the airways with advertising against saddling future generations with debt. Perhaps the amount of our current debt, then a line in the sand for those who are visual learners. Loud, emphatic noises for the audio, and crying babies for the kinesthetic.
“Ignorance is rarely dangerous. The most destructive force in history has always been the illusion of knowledge.”
Not sure I agree with that anymore.
I think “calculated evil” might be number one.
He claims Republicans share the blame for creating our most recent debts because they voted for a Continuing Resolution of the previous budget.
Think about that for a second.
If Republicans had voted “NO” on that budget, the government would have literally shut down.
Republicans would have been blamed - 100% - for that crisis.
So, according to the author, there is NO morally acceptable or Constitutional way for Republicans to cut spending!
I don’t recall that one, but it sounds as if it came from “The Creators.”
It also takes busting him every time he floats another strawman. Mockery wouldn’t hurt at all. I’m reminded of RR’s “there you go again”.
We’re playing this game now where we let him set the terms of the debate, then respond to it which, in turn, validates the original lie he floated. Responding to things like “I’m not going to let them blackmail me” with something along the lines of “The President seems to be having problems with imaginary people again...” every time he mischaracterizes an issue will eventually get through to the public if it’s done consistently and in an organized fashion. Knowing that the media will immediately adopt any bogus claim he makes and making it clear how far the claim strays from reality instead of politely trying to clarify the misunderstanding is the better approach.
Nah, not the way the rhetorical game is played.
Ask the first question, then, depending on the response, "They're proposing unlimited spending", "They don't even want to tell you how much of your money they want to spend", or "They're proposing a spending amount we all know they won't be able to stick to because they never have in the past, for example...".
Always frame the question so that whatever the response is, they're wrong.
Jeeze, you'd think these guys had never been married before.
Back in November on the tax cut standoff I saw the handwriting on the wall and started posting that Rs were making a huge mistake that defining a partial tax cut extension as tax increase (in rhetoric) total cave and that in the end Bohner will just pass an tax extension with Dems votes, and of course the wailing would hit a peak about it.
Well relative to your point I see the same thing happening again as I watch Republicans and Obama debate this on TV(just tonight) , Obama is saying that Rs are willing to blow up the economy for political purposes, but Republicans are on TV almost agreeing, saying that yes they will hold up the debt limit and/or shutdown the government to force Dems to go along with cutting spending.
Rs have tried this line of Rhetoric many times and it always failed them, if they want to achieve what they claim they need to convince most voters that it is Obama rejecting a debt limit extension and shutting down the government, while sending Dems bills on those they cant accept. Saying up front that it is your goal is sure to backfire in the end, as it always has.
Obama is saying he wont negotiate and we don't see one R taking advantage of that.
This line of rhetoric probably works great in R only (designed) House districts, but it will still end up with the same result as always with Bohner and McConnell still passing a bill with Dem votes simply because their 'team' was beat again by O by not understanding the rules of the game.
Brooks is fos. My wife and I both worked about 47 years thus far. Based on what we will have paid in and what we will collect we are projected to have paid in almost 100k more for Medicare and SS than we will collect in present dollars. But, and this is a big ass but, that is only true if we collect those benefits for 20 years after retirement. My family just doesn’t have a long lifeline so once again I get to fund the lard asses that can work but won’t even when I’m dead.
You are really assuming that you will collect the present benefits?
What are you getting at anyway ?
That Republicans will get you more benefits?
The Republicans’ biggest problem is the wimp factor again. They simply do not have enough people with balls, and NOBODY in leadership with balls. The GOP better find somebody who is up to the task of ridiculing, belittling, and smacking down the African communist scumbag, mercilessly and relentlessly, and they better find somebody fast.
Can you imagine how quickly conservatives would rush to get such a leader’s back? Boehner, Cantor, Ryan, McConnell, etc., are not up to the task. Just today, Boehner watched the House pass the pork-laden Sandy slush-fund bill with mostly rat votes! Good grief! We are watching the Republican party die, right before our eyes.
Of course, maybe that’s a good thing. ...Depending on what rises from the ashes.
Everyday I see O ridicule Rs on TV and no-one responds there in an effective way, pointing out how dishonest and what a hypocrite he is, and its very frustrating.
But there is a reality that Rs definitely denied the past few years of delusion, and they still cant understand what it means or how to respond.
It is that : Obama is extremely popular and they are unpopular and so Dems won the election.
So Rs counter with this repeated self destruction ritual :
brag and bluff and threat , symbolic votes, then cave.
Ubanga was re-elected primarily by the Democrat party's "free shit armies" of moochers. They added just enough votes from the ignorant chattering class to put their African communist over the top. And now the skinny little p.o.s. can't even fill up a few inauguration parties. "Extremely popular"? Who gave you the ganja tonight?
Anyway, the rats got their incumbent re-elected, but the Republicans WON RE-ELECTION to control the House! Plus, the Republicans OVERWHELMINGLY control state legislatures and governorships. The Republicans seem to forget all of that.
Nobody likes a bully, and that's exactly what Ubama has been since November - - a bully. A "my-way-or-the-highway" BULLY. That there is not one Republican leader willing to step up and slap down that scumbag Ubanga just drives me nuts. (Again - - if only there was a Republican leader with balls. Alas, there obviously is not. Can you spare some of that ganja?)
By the way, whatever happened to that guy who ran against Ubama? "Mittens", I believe he was called? Whew... Talk about dropping off the face of the earth.
They lost the WH and the Senate again because those are state by state contests not controlled by a party or state governments.
The House is different because those are won by districts created by governors and with Republicans taking many of the state houses they were designed so that the GOP will keep a thin Majority in the House regardless of national politics and how they go.
Obama wins these fights simply because he picks his battles such that they have public support and as I point out regularly he crafts his talking points based on polls.
The GOP??? They appear clueless and have no idea what's going on.
Before the election many (Rush) assured us that O was toast and R would win in a landslide.
After the election that flipped 180 degrees but not the advice, ‘we can't win so lets go for broke’. The GOP on the tax extension was the worst example of going for suicide.
Look at 2009 and 2010, it was temporally flipped against Dems so even the most liberal NE RINOs voted against O’s bills. If voters were supporting the GOP on these fights then Dems would be caving again as then.
Dems have that right now, at least with these budget fights, so Rs just play these games and deteriorate. Do they even want to win ? To make O back down? I have my doubts now? Maybe they just love whining about the MSM and moochers and how its hopeless.
More specifically Dems were turned out to vote more than Rs in swing states. But did Rs help that themselves? Did they help turn out D voters?
Republicans for the past few years certainly lived in the delusion that O really didnt want to run again, or cared about winning, that the polls showing Romney was losing were all fiction, that Dems had low enthusiasm to vote :exhibit A : Rush. And I saw that stuff he was saying repeated here.
32 posts on this thread and almost all miss the point entirely. You have hit it in the head however. Obama has already won the debt ceiling debate in the public’s eyes. The GOP should now admit that, agree with everything or not, they participated in the accumulation of this massive debt load, agree to an increase just large enough to get us through the fiscal year, and vow never to allow this to happen again. I disagree with CRs though. Pass a budget out of the House and hold firm. Use the Dems own rhetoric against them just as you suggest to force the Senate to finally do its’ job. No more private negotiations. Use legislation to make a public statement for the whole world to see. Get in front of this issue with the public and start playing offense instead of a prevent defense.
All miss the point except mine LOL
But what you post is exactly what I am getting at. Just like the fantasy last year about the GOP winning so many here live in a completely fantasy that when pubic opinion is against them the Senate and House GOP leaders wont cave.
So we get the delusional Donald Duck votes against weak Bohner when none of them wants to go near his job.
Holding a hostage backfires if everyone knows you will never kill the hostage.
So publicly declaring you wont pass a debt limit until ....(something O wont do), or pass a budgetCR is doomed to fail.
They should have taken the approach that they will pass debt limits and budgets, but not the ones O demands. And say in good conscience they cant for the good of the country.
And warn voters of how bad it will be in O play chicken.
GOP should fight a retrograde movement ceding ground for time. Time to prepare the battlefield in the place they will make a stand. That place should be future budget battles not arguing about the past.
This red herring needs to stop being promulgated.
Remember how Hitler gave orders to not give up an inch of land and later got news his whole armies were captured as a result? That seems to be the repeating plan.
In 2010 GOP took a not-so-thought-out stand and ended up giving O a debt limit extension to get him through the election.
My favorite example was how O got Pelosi House to pass a full two year extension of all Bush cuts, even though many of her members ran against that in two elections, but it helped O get re-elected last year and left the time bomb for the GOP that worked.
That was thinking ahead, something few in the GOP seem to do. Their plan is boast and threat, symbolic vote, then cave.
Tactics vs strategy
What I am getting at is that the government has been taking my money at the point of a gun for 50 years to redistribute and I am sick of it. I thought that was clear but this should clarify.
Lately under GWB and more under O they been borrowing a hell of a lot so they are just distributing money not ‘re-’, lots of tax cuts and massive spending, everyone wins.
I bet your parents didnt send back their SS and medicare because they were against spending other peoples money. They probably loved getting it,
Hey asshole both my parents worked from the time they were 14 and died before they ever collected a dime. Nice to see the redistributionists have made their way to FR. Diversity and tolerance. Hope and change.
So they never explained to you where that SS and Medicare money they got came from?
From the entitlement fairy?? Santa?? That entitlement piggy bank of coins?
OK, its too bad I have to break this to you at 49 but better than you waiting till 59.
They took that money from taxpayers like me, yes, us hard workers. It was Redistribution, the thing you claim to hate.
Sorry your parents refused to tell you the obvious truth.
Its no wonder it is freaking you out to hear it,
Yeah, Right LOL
You’re the dumbest bastard I ever met here at FR. Congrats.
LOL, I forgot all about you. You make me :) bro
Did you talk your parents into giving you their house so medicaid (my taxes) would pay their nursing home costs? Rather than using their to house to pay for it?
I like you.
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