So far, the DNC has been … interesting. There’s been some drama with die hard Bernie supporters walking out and protests outside (more protests and more violent protests than we saw at the supposedly fascist RNC). DWS was booed out of the city. On the other hand, Bernie endorse Hillary. Michelle Obama’s speech was well-received. And Bill Clinton gave a nice rambling folksy speech last night. Support is slowly solidifying behind Clinton.
It’s almost enough to make you forget that the Democrats have rolled out one of the most radically Leftists agendas in modern political history.
Either through the platform or through speeches, the Democrats have called for trillions in new spending: free college, more healthcare, a public option, a $15 minimum wage, public funding for abortions, expanded Social Security, free pre-K, more money for schools, more money for “infrastructure”, more money for “alternative energy”, trade restrictions. They’ve had several speakers tonight talk about gun control — not the “expanded background checks” stuff they’ve talking about, but real gun-grabbing radicalism. They’ve blasted Citizen’s United (which involved a movie that had the temerity to criticize their candidate) and billionaires buying elections (even though the Koch Brothers are sitting this out while Soros has given $25 million to Clinton). Everything they’ve said so far — every single thing — has been about expanding government power. You have heard almost no advocacy for less government or more freedom.
Really, you could see it all in Michelle Obama’s speech. It was well-delivered. It was passionate. It was the right combination of fire and ice. And it was scary as hell. Because all she talked about was how we need to select a President who will “shape our children” over the next 4-8 years. Shaping our children is not the job of the damned President. That’s what we have a society for. The job of the President is to enforce the laws and keep the Canadian hordes from sweeping down through our cities. The President should be a role model. But asking him to “shape our children” is like asking the electric company to fold your laundry: it’s not their damned job.
Ordinarily, this would be a death-knell for the Democrats. And maybe it still will be — Trump is currently ahead in the polls. But I fear we are about to cement into American politics the idea of government as mother, government as father, government as savior, government as protector, government as provider. After two decades of pushing the country toward freer markets and greater prosperity, we are poised to plunge into a socialist abyss.
(I’m very curious to see where Trump goes on these issues. He has already conceded on Medicare. He has, in the past, expressed support for taxes on wealth and socialized medicine. He’s been kind of all over the map on abortion and gun control. One harbinger to watch for: what he says about the minimum wage in the debates. If he concedes that, he’s giving up the whole agenda.)
The most important, as I keep saying, is that the Republicans hold onto Congress. With Congress, they can stop most of Clinton’s agenda and perhaps set up a 2016 resurgence. But if they lose both houses and the White House, Clinton could do irreparable damage.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, known in these parts as Ms. Verbal Diarrhea, has apparently resigned from heading the DNC. This is a fallout of the hacked e-mails which shows the DNC trying very hard to favor Clinton and run down Sanders in the primaries. I suspect it was the condition of keeping Sanders in the tent.
I’m not surprised. But I am somewhat disappointed. Schultz was one of the best things that ever happened to the Republicans. Under her leadership, the Republicans retained control of both Houses of Congress, the majority of State Houses, many key Governorships and were poised to take the White House before they nominated a hamster.
For a time, it looked like Hillary Clinton might actually end up being the more conservative candidate in the race. Trump has been talking about restricting trade, blowing holes in the debt, opposing entitlement reform and expanding executive power.
Well, no longer. Apparently afraid that Bernie Sanders will bolt the Democratic Party for the Green (this tends to happen when you let people run who aren’t technically members of your party), she has now basically adopted Bernie Sander’s agenda in full.
She’s supporting the push for universal Pre-K, proposing a new bunch of subsidies and tax credits, doubling the size of the failed Head Start program and pushing for 12 weeks of mandatory paid leave. I’ve argued before the universal pre-K is a solution stumbling around in search of a problem and documented the complete failure of universal pre-K efforts. Clinton doesn’t care; there’s votes to be bought!
Clinton has now abandoned education reform in favor of more spending and more spending. There’s no evidence that this approach does anything but employ more union members. Clinton doesn’t care; there’s votes to be bought!
She’s now supporting a $15 minimum wage, a plank taken straight from Bernie Sanders. I’ve pointed out before that the push for $15 is a kind of mass insanity that has gripped the Left, only slightly more scientific than if the Republicans had responded to the Ebola epidemic with prayer. The cruelty of this is that it if the Democrats are wrong, it will not destroy their jobs, but the jobs for the people they purport to care for: the poor, the workings class, minorities, dropouts and convicted criminals trying to straighten out their lives. Clint doesn’t care; there’s votes to be bought!
She’s now embraced Bernie’s plan to massively inflate college tuition … uh … “make college more affordable“. As has been pointed out innumerable times, shoveling money at colleges will simply raises costs, increase debt and persuade more people to waste their time in college when they could be working or training. Clinton doesn’t care; there’s votes to be bought!
She’s now supporting creating a public option for Obamacare. Obama is now calling for this too, claiming the markets are not competitive enough. You have to admire the gall. First, the crush the insurance market with Obamacare. Then, they refuse to let insurance be sold across state lines. Then they propose a “public option” to bankrupt the insurance companies that remain. Every day, Obamacare looks more and more like a deliberate plan to destroy the private insurance market to create the “need” for socialized medicine. In this case, Clinton does care; there’s vote to bought!
She’s now turned not just against TPP but against free trade in general. Never mind that trade has made our country wealthy while almost eliminating poverty in other countries. Clinton doesn’t care; there’s votes to be bought!
All of this will be paid for with big tax hikes on “the rich”, who are close to maxed out. Clinton doesn’t care; there’s votes to be bought!
The $15 minimum wage is the issue for me with Democrats. It is so mindless, so stupid, so at variance with economics and so destructive to the future of the people it supposedly helps. If you wanted to create unemployment, make poverty more intractable and condemn a generation of people to lifelong unemployment and poverty, you’d be hard pressed to come up with a better plan than the $15 minimum wage.
I realize that a lot of liberal organizations don’t pay their interns or, in the case of groups like Ralph Nader’s, pay them sub-minimum wage through legal loopholes. But the University of California already fired 500 people to account for the minimum wage. Even the dumbest Democrat can do math. And Hillary Clinton is many things, but she’s not dumb. They must know, on some level, that this is going to be bad. They just Don’t. Fucking. Care.
But it’s worse. As McArdle points out in the link above, Clinton is proposing to pay for all this stuff with the usual litany of Democratic tax hikes: raising rates, eliminating the Social Security cap, closing the “carried interest” loophole, etc., etc. She’a also proposing to eliminate almost all tax deductions for the rich (which will produce 100+% marginal rate in some income brackets). But:
For while it is true that these programs are paid for, that doesn’t mean that the budget math is sound. The government’s spending capacity is, in the end, limited, and every dollar that you spend on one thing is a dollar that cannot be spent on something else. Virtually all of Clinton’s “pay fors” are concentrated on a relatively small number of affluent-to-rich people, and because of that, they represent a large cut of those incomes; if she managed to enact all of her plans, her top bracket would be inching close to a marginal tax rate of 50 percent before you factor in state and local taxes that can easily add another 10 percentage points to that figure.
Even if you think that it would be politically possible to extract taxes at those levels, and that you could do so without causing any unwanted economic side effects, the question remains: What do you do for an encore? After enacting Clinton’s agenda, America will still need to fix Medicare, Social Security, state and local pensions, the disability insurance program, and so forth. And given that Democrats have proven as unwilling as Republicans to raise taxes on the middle class, where are we going to get the money?
I’ve said this many times and I will keep repeating it until it sinks in: you can’t fund a welfare state by taxing the rich. There simply isn’t enough money. European welfare states aren’t funded by the rich. They’re funded with massive taxes on the middle class.
The United States has one of the most progressive tax systems in the world, being very reliant on the wealthy for revenue. The European welfare states, by contrast, are more regressive, having flatter taxes and relying on VATs and sales taxes that are regressive. They have to be that way because you simply can’t finance a welfare state by taxing the 1%.
A welfare state financed by the rich doesn’t even work politically. When everyone is paying taxes, there is more support for a welfare state because everyone is pitching in. The perception is that you’re getting out something related to what you paid in, which is why Social Security and Medicare are popular in this country (both financed by a regressive tax that is denounced by Democrats for not soaking the rich enough). But a system that is dependent on taxing the rich isn’t a welfare state, it’s a plunder state. And as I’ve pointed out before, most people don’t want that. They don’t want to feel like they’re living on someone else’s dime or on stolen property. The Communists discovered this 70 years ago when they tried to “redistribute” estates to the commoners only to discover that the commoners didn’t want that wealth if it was stolen.
But proposing to fund this garbage through a middle-class tax hikes would be political suicide. So — in a situation where we are already half a trillion in deficit, have $19 trillion in existing debt and have trillions of dollars in future unfunded liabilities — the Democrats are proposing to burn our last few sources of revenue on a series of brand new will-o’-the-wisp social spending programs.
(Yes, yes, we once had marginal tax rates of 70%. And we also had a huge number of exemptions. No one ever paid that rate. We are very close the practical limit on marginal rates.)
I understand why Clinton is selling out wholesale like this. She’s afraid Bernie on the Green Party ticket will wreck her chances. But I think this tells you how principled Hillary Clinton is. She has either completely changed her views on several major issues or she is going to betray her campaign promises the second she gets into office. I don’t think she actually cares either way. She just wants to be President. And if she has to wreck the economy to get there, well, she’ll wreck the economy to get there. This is way more of a sell-out to the party fringe than any Republican has ever made. But you won’t see it described as such because 98% of our media are going to vote for Clinton anyway.
This is worst election ever. Two rich leftists are battling to see who gets to the screw the country over and how badly they can screw us. And people wonder why I’ve voting for Johnson:
I will not vote for Trump. And I will not for Clinton. To hell with them both. The only election I really care about is Congress. It is absolutely critical that the Republicans hold onto Congress, preferably retaining a majority in both houses. Look at the agenda. Imagine the damage Clinton could do with a Democratic Congress. And then, whatever you may think of Trump, put that Republicans roadblock in her way.
Reason posted this over the weekend. It’s a good review of why the $15 minimum wage, which Clinton has now embraced, is insanity.
Boudreaux gets into an aspect of the wage hike I didn’t: that he thinks the gradual increase is designed to conceal the effects. If the economy does well for other reasons, the Democrats will then claim the $15 minimum wage is having no effect on jobs.
Here’s the thing: the Democrats are claiming, based on a grand total of one study that doesn’t say what they think it says, that we can raise the minimum wage without increasing unemployment. Let’s pretend that this point is up for debate and that we are, in effect, engaging in a massive gamble on the laws of economics. What is the downside risk if they’re wrong?
As I noted in my last post, long-term unemployment is one of the most damaging things that can happen to someone. It can repress earnings for a lifetime, it can affect health and happiness and, as we’ve seen in Europe, masses of unemployed young men can become a hotbed of crime and extremism. That’s the risk if they’re wrong.
The Democrats are gambling the futures of millions of people on this will-o-the-wisp idea that the Law of Supply and Demand is magically suspend for labor because … well, because the unions want it to be. If they’ve gambled wrong, they won’t be paying the price. Millions of poor people and minorities will. If the $15 wage causes mass unemployment, the effects will last for generations. It may not be reparable in our lifetime.
I’m glad the Democrats have a few pet economists who will tell them this is a low-risk bet. But it’s yet another illustration of how the Democrats “help” people by holding their heads underwater. I have no doubt that they think they are being compassionate. But gambling someone’s life on crackpot economic ideas is not compassion.
Here’s the wonderful thing about Democratic Part debates. Any time I even entertain the notion of voting for a Democrat, all I have to do is watch them debate and I am instantly dissuaded. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debated again last night. I don’t know (or care) who the winner was. I know who the loser was: anything approaching sanity.
Here is a short list of the things the candidates basically agree on:
We should address global warming. But in doing so, we should abandon the technologies that have made the most progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions: nuclear power and fracking.
Government should spend yet more money making college more expensive. I mean, cheaper, definitely cheaper.
We shouldn’t reign in exploding retirements. We should expand them. And we can pay for that with taxes on the rich.
We need way more liberals on the Supreme Court.
Any SCOTUS opinions liberals like is “established law” and should not be touched. Anything they don’t like, such as Citizens United should be overturned.
We need a $15 national minimum wage.
Boy, do we need to spend more money. For jobs and stuff.
There is some daylight between the candidates. Clinton is more of an interventionist abroad while Sanders is more isolationist. Clinton is also a bit more hostile to civil liberties. And, to be fair, Clinton has frequently taken the opposite opinion on the minimum wage and fracking. But it was kind of scary listening to these chowderheads last night and imaging what they might do with a Democratic Congress.
On style, Sanders won. But, were I a Democrat, I would probably be voting Clinton. Sanders has the big ideas and high-sounding rhetoric. But Clinton is the one who could actually get things done. If I were a Republican, I’d probably want Sanders since even a Democratic Congress wouldn’t do all the crap he wants.
The more I turn this over, the more I think retaining Congress has to be the priority for the GOP. I’ve basically given up the White House for lost this year. I think Clinton is going to win the nomination and the election, despite her high negatives and ethical problems. I base this partly on intuition. In every election since 1980, I’ve gotten a feeling for who was going to win. It has rarely failed me. The only time I was even uncertain was 2000. I’m now getting that feeling about Clinton. I see her on TV and think, “Jesus, we’re actually going to do this thing, aren’t we?”
But I also base on the GOP, which is either going to nominate Trump or nominate someone else to lead a badly fractured party. I’m hoping it’s Cruz, since he will probably lose but would at least bring enough voters to the polls to hold Congress. But if Trump is the nominee …
This is a bad year. I’ve been watching politics since 1980. I’ve been blogging about it, off and on, for the last 15 years. I’ve never seen anything like this. Even Gore and Obama had their redeeming features. Even Bush and Dole had reasons to vote for them. I look at this field — a socialist, a criminal, a fascist and a twerp — and all I can think is, “please, someone else.”
So we had two more debates over the weekend. I won’t go blow-by-blow through them. Trump continued to be obnoxious. Bush punched back. Rubio and Cruz sparred, occasionally in Spanish. Kasich tried to set himself up as the adult in the room (not always successfully). Instead of going through that, I thought I’d lay out what my current impression is of the candidates and the order in which I would vote for them. I’ve put all the candidates in the list except for Ben Carson. The reason I’ve left Carson out is because I’m not sure what I make of him and I don’t think he’ll be in this much longer. The others should last at least through Super Tuesday.
So here’s my current preference for presidential candidates. Keep in mind that these rankings are fluid and could change significantly as the race progresses.
After the last Republican debate, the GOP was miffed about the tone and content of the questions asked. Almost everyone thought the questions were terrible, that the commentators interrupted too much and the debate was even less informative than these things tend to be (all except Vox, because of course). In the wake of the debate, the RNC has suspended their partnership with NBC.
(One thing to clear up. This does cancel the broadcast of GOP debates on Telemundo, which is supposedly racist or something. But that’s a temporary thing. They could easily find another Spanish-language outlet. ABC has an association with Univision. Fox has their own Spanish-language channel. This is about NBC, not Telemundo.)
In the wake of this, every liberal outlet is bashing the GOP for “whining” about the debate. According to them, the Republicans are big babies. Their proof of this? Fox News asked tough questions too. But in making that comparison, they illustrate precisely the problem. Fox News’ questioning was pointed, but it was not ridiculous. It was managed well and it did not try to pit the candidates against each other or focus on trivial nonsense. At one point during the debate, Chris Christie got some of the biggest cheers of the night for castigating the hosts for asking questions about fantasy football. Everyone — liberal and conservative alike — thought Fox’s questioning was at least solid. No one — liberal or conservative — thought CNBC’s was.
But here’s the real rub. The Democrats did the same thing in 2007, withdrawing from a debate hosted by Fox News because, ostensibly, they didn’t like some things Roger Ailes had said about Obama. They couldn’t specify what precisely Ailes said, but they assured us that, whatever it was, it was really really bad. The really real reason, of course, was that they were pressure from MoveOn and other liberals orgs that hated Fox News. So the Democrats did not have a Fox News debate in 2008. And they won’t have one this year. I realize that the Left has decided that Fox News is Objectively Evil. But I can’t help but wonder … just a bit … if that decision was made because Fox News is the only news channel that would challenge the Democrats. Every other host — NPR, PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, F/X, ESPN, VH1, TLC, MTV, Disney, Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, the Sci-Fi Channel, THC, NG, CSPAN — would be friendly to them.
So … who exactly are the whiners who can’t face tough questions?
But I want you to consider where the Democratic Presidential candidates are on the issues:
In the Democratic Party, there is no longer a debate over whether the federal government should guarantee “free” college to everyone. The debate is over whether this free college should be made available to the children of rich people or not.
Free daycare and mandated maternity leave are no longer up for debate. The question among the Democrats is how much of these things we are going to get.
Expanding the broken Social Security system is now the mainstream view in the Democratic Party.
There is no longer any debate about whether there should be more gun control. It’s about whether we should consider Australia-style gun confiscation. Bernie Sanders was pilloried for having the temerity to suggest that liberal gun control wouldn’t fly in the entire country.
All of this, of course, will be paid for with “taxes on the rich”. Of course, even if you raised taxes on the rich, even if you confiscated all of their income, it wouldn’t pay for all of this. Bernie Sanders’ agenda would cost a cool $18 trillion over the next decade. I’m old enough to remember when the Democrat were worried about the deficit.
You may remember that, a few years ago, the media buzzword was “epistemic closure”. This was the idea that the Republicans had encased themselves in a bubble of Fox News media so that they never heard any dissenting views. And while there is some legitimacy to this, it’s peanuts compared to what’s been happening with Democrats. Between NPR, MSNBC, Vox, HuffPo and other media, they have created an echo chamber that brooks little dissent and assumes that certain issues, like gun control, have basically been agreed upon by all “reasonable” people. The result is a party where Jim Webb’s left of center views have no place anymore. The results is a party where Bernie Sanders’ candidacy is doomed not because of his extreme socialism but because of his minimal moderation on gun control.
Doubtless once the primary is done, Clinton will try to tack right and proclaim herself to be a moderate. And doubtless the press will go along with this. There’s a problem though: Clinton has 25 years of her views on the record. She’s part of an Administration that has eight years on record. She’s made actual policy proposals that represent more big government and more spending.
Last week, the Democratic Party expressed support for Black Lives Matter. Here is BLM’s heartening response:
A resolution signaling the Democratic National Committee’s endorsement that Black lives matter, in no way implies an endorsement of the DNC by the Black Lives Matter Network, nor was it done in consultation with us. We do not now, nor have we ever, endorsed or affiliated with the Democratic Party, or with any party. The Democratic Party, like the Republican and all political parties, have historically attempted to control or contain Black people’s efforts to liberate ourselves. True change requires real struggle, and that struggle will be in the streets and led by the people, not by a political party.
More specifically, the Black Lives Matter Network is clear that a resolution from the Democratic National Committee won’t bring the changes we seek. Resolutions without concrete change are just business as usual. Promises are not policies. We demand freedom for Black bodies, justice for Black lives, safety for Black communities, and rights for Black people. We demand action, not words, from those who purport to stand with us.
While the Black Lives Matter Network applauds political change towards making the world safer for Black life, our only endorsement goes to the protest movement we’ve built together with Black people nationwide — not the self-interested candidates, parties, or political machine seeking our vote.”
Again, I might take issue with some of the verbiage and emphasis. But they are forcing the Democratic Party to admit that they supported the militarization of police and the ramping up of criminal penalties. They are forcing the Democratic Party to face their long history of pandering to black votes while screwing black people. While we might disagree on policy, I applaud any movement that refuses to associate itself with a political party.
Speaking of Keynesianism:
Tyler Cowen reminds us that the growing sinkhole that is the Chinese economy was the subject of praise just a few years ago:
Remember back in 2009, and a bit thereafter (pdf), when so many people were praising China’s very activist, multi-trillion fiscal stimulus?
Yet some of us at the time insisted this would only push off and deepen China’s adjustment problems. There was already excess capacity and high debt and favored state-owned industries, and the stimulus was making all of those problems worse and only postponing a needed adjustment. The Chinese incipient contraction was based on structural problems, not a simple lack of aggregate demand.
How’s that debate going? While the final outcome remains uncertain, Austrian-like perspectives on China are looking pretty good these days.
Just as you go to war with the army you’ve got, so must a country conduct fiscal stimulus with the policy instruments it has. And most forms of Chinese fiscal stimulus make their imbalances worse rather than better. Yet dreams of fiscal stimulus as an answer to the macro problems on the table never die.
To the Keynesians — or, as I call them, the pseudoKeynesians — it is always time to spend money.
Was Segregation Made or Did it Just Happen?:
I’ve been sitting on this link for weeks but there’s not much I can add. It details how our inner city slums didn’t just happen. They were made and the men who made it were Democrats.
Hmm. I should pass that on the BLM folks.
Obama officially reverted Mt. McKinley back to being named Denali. A few people are trying to whip up some outrage but I don’t see the point. Everyone in Alaska calls it Denali and Congress appears to have punted this kind of authority to the bureaucracy long ago.
So last night was a big deal for the Republicans. In the Senate, they surged to 52 seats, with one run-off (Louisiana) and two races that are too close to call (Alaska and Virginia). We’re probably looking at 53-54 seat majority. They will probably also gain about ten seats in the House. They won governor’s mansions in Maryland, Illinois and Massachusetts. They lost Pennsylvania mostly because Corbett was extremely unpopular (and deservedly so).
On ballot initiatives, fetal personhood was rejected in two states, legal pot won in two states (and fell shy of supermajority in Florida). Minimum wage hikes also passed in four states.
So voters want a higher minimum wage, legal pot, abortion access and GOP representation. Ok then.
Anyway, the best part of any election is always the rending of garments, gnashing of teeth and making of excuses by the losing side. Here are just a few things I have learned since the Republicans won the election last night, with my responses in italics:
The Republicans only won because of evil dirty money (The Republican spending advantage was about 10%. Democrats raised nearly $2 billion in campaign funds).
The Republicans only won because young people didn’t turn out (This is what happens when you confuse the Cult of Obama with a Permanent Democractic Majority).
The Republicans only won because they suppressed the black vote (The Republicans also elected the South’s first black senator in South Carolina).
This was not a rejection of any liberal ideas. (If you identify liberal issues solely by the ones that are popular, sure. But while the public may broadly agree with the Democrats on some specific issues, they disagree with massively with the Democrats’ performance.)
Republicans only won because the adopted liberal positions. (You should read that article, because it basically agrees with everything we’ve been saying: that Democratic policies harm the causes they supposedly support.)
Democrats only lost because of hate and racism (That’s half true. People do hate $18 trillion in debt and skyrocketing insurance rates).
Republicans only won because the map was unfavorable (It’s the same map Democrats won on six years ago.).
The next few are from various comments sections and I’ll just throw up there for the LOLs:
Republicans only won because we don’t have mandatory voting. Republicans won because of the skewed the polls, making Democrats overconfident. Democrats lost because they didn’t run on their awesome liberal record. Republicans won because they lied about Obama’s record. Republicans won because they had more virgins to sacrifice to the great electoral god, Gerrymaunderkin.
Ok, I made that last one up.
For what it’s worth, I think Republicans won for a variety of reasons. They put together a broader and more appealing party; they stayed away from divisive issues and concentrated on the economy; they let the Democrats beclown themselves. But mostly, I think, it was simple fatigue. The country is tired of Barack Obama. It is tired of Nancy Pelosi. It is tired of Harry Reid. Hell, I’m tired of blogging about them. These three clowns have dominated our politics for almost a decade now and the American people are tired of them. They aren’t over-eager for the Republicans. But the new faces of the GOP — Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Scott Walker, John Kasich, etc. — are certainly a lot less depressing than the Democrats.