Economics

Is The Tea Party Killing Real Budget Reform? Or Just the GOP?

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Bruce Bartlett thinks so. The maverick economist, who worked for Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul, lost a think tank gig way back when for suggesting at book length that George W. Bush was an "impostor" when it came to laissez-faire economic policy (read Reason's excerpt of the book here), thinks the GOP is "blowing it" by pandering to Tea Party activists.

They are rapidly using up their limited political capital for getting control of the budget on trivial spending cuts, such asdefunding National Public Radio, that will have no long-term impact. Furthermore, we know from experience that the public's support for budget cuts quickly ran out in 1981, leading inevitably to tax increases. And according to a February16 Harris poll, there is less support for spending cuts today than there was back then.

Although Republicans today are confident that they will retake the Senate and the White House next year, I think their current strategy of pandering to Tea Party extremists is undermining these hopes. Polls show Democrats up for reelection next year, such as Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, to be rapidly improving their chances. And Republicans should remember that one reason they controlled the White House during most of the postwar era is that the American people don't really trust either party to control the entire government. Moreover, the lousy job Republicans did when they controlled Congress and the White House from 2001 to 2006 is still a recent memory.

Bartlett's right that wasting time on public broadcasting cuts while we don't even have a real budget for this very fiscal year is pretty silly. And he's argued elsewhere that extracting ounces of flesh from short-term continuing resolutions means that the GOP isn't coming up with a really strong budget proposal for fiscal 2012. And he's right that many of today's paragons of smaller spending have dubious votes in their recent legislative pasts:

This year, Medicare Part D will add about $55 billion to the deficit – far more than can be saved with all the budget cuts Republicans can possibly hope to achieve in fiscal 2011. Furthermore, it annoys me to see so many of those who voted for Medicare Part D, such as House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), treated as if they are paragons of fiscal responsibility. In fact, their concern for excessive spending is highly selective, directed almost entirely at programs supported by Democrats primarily to undercut their political support, not because they care so much about deficits.

This is all true. Yet Bartlett's column is built around Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the second-generation firebrand who didn't even mention the GOP during his election night speech back in November. Bartlett fails to address the most basic question his column raises: Is Rand Paul a problem? Here's a guy whose commitment to reducing spending and government overreach is unquestionable. Here's a guy who since coming to office has offered up $500 billion in immediate cuts and a five-year plan to balance the budget. He's a Tea Party fave who is not insane, who doesn't care about ACORN or think that Obama is a secret anything. And yet Bartlett, who quotes favorably from Paul's new book (and is in fact quoted in it), doesn't say whether Rand Paul is destroying the GOP by delivering exactly what he was elected to do: suggest serious, viable ways to limit government spending and control of our daily lives.

If the GOP must die for Rand Paul to live, well, that's not even a choice.

Bartlett's col is here. His Fiscal Times columns and blog posts are always worth reading.

Check out Reason's interview with Paul, conducted by Matt Welch and me earlier this week:

NEXT: A Dysfunctional Fix to a Dysfunctional System

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  1. If the GOP must die for Rand Paul to live, well, that’s not even a choice.

    If the chicken must die in order to have chicken-a-la-king, well…

    Here, chick, chick, chick! Here, chick, chick, chick!

    1. If the GOP must die for Rand Paul to live, well, that’s not even a choice.

      I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but Nick won the internet today. Congraulations!

      1. If the GOP must die for Rand Paul to live, well, that’s not even a choice. would be a wonderful thing

  2. Give the Republicans time. First they have to make it impossible for their opponents to get elected by destroying the unions who contribute to them, the news sources that report anything other than GOP propaganda, the voting rights of minorities and college students, and they no doubt must further gerrymander the states. Then they will be able to cut whatever they want. Praise be to future President Jesus and his pet dinosaur.

      1. Always has been.

      2. No, they really do want to disenfranchise college students. For freedom, no doubt.

        1. Re: Tony,

          No, they really do want to disenfranchise college students[.]

          No, really. Is this a joke?

          1. Wouldn’t that just mean that the students would have to vote in their home state? I doubt seriously that anyone is suggesting that adults shouldn’t be allowed to vote at all.

            1. And what would be the point of such a policy?

              1. Perhaps the point of the policy would be to keep college students from voting in their home state (absentee ballot), and in the state where their college is located (in person)?

                Or were you not aware that this happened in 2008, and was openly talked about among die-hard university Obama voters?

                1. Really? Because according New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien the problem is “kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience.”

                  1. Re: Tony,

                    Because according New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien the problem is “kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience.”

                    And the guy happens to be your rambunctious neighbor, right?

                    Because nobody else gives a shit. Thanks.

                  2. That. And also that they are voting in a community that they will be leaving in a very short time, with no long-term interest in that community.

                    1. Why should that matter? Do we disallow other people to vote who are planning on relocating in the next 4 years?

                      The point is, whatever flimsy excuses are made for these policies, the real goal is to make it harder to elect Democrats, period. There is not a crisis of college students voting going on.

                    2. Re: Tony,

                      Why should that matter? Do we disallow other people to vote who are planning on relocating in the next 4 years?

                      Actually, only stakeholders should vote.

                      That means nobody, as nobody can really claim a stake on everybody else’s property or freedom. Maybe only thieves, but all those will be tarred and feathered when the Revolution comes.

                    3. “Planning” on relocating, and certainty of relocating are quite different. I lived in a college community where the student vote, coupled with the already liberal faculty vote controlled city politics. One of the stupidest cities in America. Not talking about Boulder, but that is also a very good example of a fucked up town governed by morons.

                    4. Well I live in a bible belt state run by truly, truly stupid politicians, most of whom never even went to college, and we’re predictably suffering as a result. Not getting what you want out of government is no excuse for disenfranchising citizens, however.

                    5. Re: Tony,

                      Well I live in a bible belt state run by truly, truly stupid politicians, most of whom never even went to college, and we’re predictably suffering as a result.

                      And you live in a country run by politicians that went to college and manage to also do some really, really stupid things, and WE’RE ALL predictably suffering as a result.

                      http://www.usdebtclock.org/

                    6. Well I live in a bible belt state run by truly, truly stupid politicians, most of whom never even went to college

                      Why the hell don’t you leave Oklahoma? What is the attraction?

                      And I think you might be confusing “stupid” with “people who have honest disagreements with my ideology, and probably think YOU’RE the idiot”

                      and

                      “going to college” with “smart”.

                    7. [quote]”going to college” with “smart”[/quote]

                      That’s a HUGE fallacy that the left pounds in day after day. That they are somehow better qualified to make decisions because they went to college.

                      The problem is that they’re so smart that they don’t realize that educated != intelligent. And this is coming from a guy with an MA.

                    8. It’s not the “not getting what I want” from government that is the problem; it’s getting what government feels is best for me despite my thoughts on the matter that I take issue with.

                      Oh wait. ROADZZZZZZ!

                    9. One of the stupidest cities in America. Not talking about Boulder, but that is also a very good example of a fucked up town governed by morons.

                      LOL that Boulder was the first city I thought of. Even Colorado’s liberals rag on that town.

                    10. Why should that matter? Do we disallow other people to vote who are planning on relocating in the next 4 years?

                      Your analogy is not equivalent. The proposed legislation doesn’t remove the right of suffrage, it merely enforces the long standing practice of voting in your state of residency, whereas your analogy would remove suffrage totally.

                    11. Well I believe in making voting as easy as possible for the most number of people possible. So letting college students “reside” in the states they’re going to college would seem to be a pro-freedom policy.

                      As long as we’re clear about the actual motives of such restrictions. Talk about solutions in search of problems.

                    12. Well I believe in making voting as easy as possible for the most number of people possible.

                      “As easy as possible for the most number of people possible?” So it follows that you support letting people vote in multiple states simultaneously, letting people who aren’t citizens or even residents of the US vote, letting people vote multiple times, and so on?

                      I hope you were engaging in hyperbole.

                    13. So it follows that you support letting people vote in multiple states simultaneously, letting people who aren’t citizens or even residents of the US vote, letting people vote multiple times, and so on?

                      Only if they’re voting democrat.

                    14. No I wasn’t John. We do not have a voter fraud problem in this country. We have a low voting rate problem.

                    15. As long as we’re clear about the actual motives of such restrictions.

                      Sure, the Republicans will tend to support policies that help them at the polls, just as Democrats will have “actual motives” of making voter fraud easier if they think it will help them at the polls.

                      However, discussing motives is the clear sign of someone with a bad argument, Tony.

                    16. John, there has been no evidence whatsoever of significant “voter fraud” ever occurring in recent elections. This is totally, 100%, Republican bullshit which services exactly the thing I’m talking about, attempts to make it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to vote.

                      Of course I don’t believe in allowing voter fraud, which again is a made-up problem. But I would definitely support letting felons vote. (Even the currently incarcerated. They are under the heel of public policy more than anyone else, after all.)

                      I find it quite alarming the extent to which Republicans try to disenfranchise people who don’t vote for them.

                    17. John, there has been no evidence whatsoever of significant “voter fraud” ever occurring in recent elections. This is totally, 100%, Republican bullshit which services exactly the thing I’m talking about, attempts to make it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to vote.

                      Of course I don’t believe in allowing voter fraud, which again is a made-up problem. But I would definitely support letting felons vote. (Even the currently incarcerated. They are under the heel of public policy more than anyone else, after all.)

                      You may be right about the severity of voter fraud, but you seem very pleased with the idea of practices that increase its probability.

                      I find it quite alarming the extent to which Republicans try to disenfranchise people who don’t vote for them.

                      Ironic how you rail against false memes and then finish off the post with your own.

                    18. Of course I don’t believe in allowing voter fraud, which again is a made-up problem.

                      Really? Because that contradicts your statement of “making voting as easy as possible for the most number of people possible.” Any action to prevent or detect voter fraud makes voting slightly harder for some people. There are tradeoffs.

                      You shouldn’t speak in absolutes.

                    19. John, there has been no evidence whatsoever of significant “voter fraud” ever occurring in recent elections.

                      You tell ‘im, Tony!

                    20. The funny thing is Scott Brown might have lost if all those Massachusetts born liberal college students in purple states had stayed registered in Massachusetts.

              2. Why should a temporary resident with no stake in paying the taxes required to fund a policy have any say in making the policy? Let the brats go back to mommy and daddy’s basement and vote. How many of your students have two addresses on file with the college? One a permanent address and one a “school” address? Let the vote at the permanent address.

              3. In NH, most spending is done at the town level and is paid for by property taxes. The purpose of such a policy, as I see it, is to disallow students who are only living there temporarily and who have little vested interest in keeping local spending under control from unduly influencing local policy.
                I don’t think that it is legal or a particularly good idea to define residency this way, but there is more to it than “they vote for Democrats”.

            2. voting absentee is not hard. i managed to do it as an undergrad. before the internet and cell phones were ubiquitous.

        2. The human brain doesn’t fully develop it’s cognitive capacity until around 25 years old on average. It’s stupid to allow people who are biologically undeveloped (not to mention inexperienced with life in general) to have a say in the legislative process.

          1. That’s a different issue. As a parent of an 18-year old (and as a former 18-year old), it occurs to me that some problems could be solved by making the age of majority 30.

            1. Don’t be coy. Share: Which problems are you talking about?

              1. The problem that is damned, meddling kids.

          2. Fine, let’s cut out the old people with dementia onset too. Might make it a fair fight between the parties.

            1. Absolutely!

              But the thing is, this is a libertarian site, not a Republican site, and while the geasers tend to be conservative, they’re not FISCAL conservatives. So losing both demographics is a double win for libertarians.

              1. I find the libertarian penchant for hating democracy very interesting.

                1. Re: Tony,

                  I find the libertarian penchant for hating democracy very interesting.

                  Liar. You just find it outrageous, despite the arguments that Democracy is still and will always be an auction of stolen goods.

                2. Why, hating Democracy is Anti-American!

                  A lot of shitty things have been given moral credibility by the fact that they happened under a Democracy. Slavery comes to mind.

                  Maybe we should stop worshipping it and realize that the tyranny of the majority needs to be checked.

                  1. KPres nobody is talking about a tyranny of the majority.

                    Although libertarians get quite close to advocating for a tyranny of themselves being preferable to consent of the governed. Because they’re just right!

                    1. Re: Tony,

                      KPres nobody is talking about a tyranny of the majority.

                      Liar. It’s implied when you say “Democracy.”

                      Although libertarians get quite close to advocating for a tyranny of themselves being preferable to consent of the governed.

                      Ye,s I prefer a tyranny of myself instead of being told what to do by a tyranny of 50% plus 1.

                      Because they’re just right!

                      Well, I am right about what I need and want, just as you are too limited intellectually to know what YOU want (it seems) by what one can gather from your love for the State: “I need someone to tell me what to do!”

                    2. But don’t you see – telling other people to leave you alone is tyrannical!

                    3. Tony|3.18.11 @ 11:30AM|#
                      “Innuendo, followed by lie, followed by wild assertion”

                      Warming up, are you Tony?

                  2. Let’s vote on tonites dinner menu.

                  3. damn right libertarians hat democracy, all that is is mob rule in which the majority tells the minority to give them all their money. That’s why this country is supposed to be a republic.
                    A representative democracy, that protects the rights of the minority, most of all the individual, from the fleeting whims of an incoherent mob.

                3. What an unbelievably assinine comment.

                  A commentator recently remarked that, yes, given time, you would post something even more mind-numblingly stupid than the then current mind-numbingly stupid comment.

                  He/she was right. I was wrong.

                  Tony, when you wake up and realize that the world isn’t only Team Blue (RAHRAH!) and Team Red (BOOOO!) and that people can believe in democratic/republican ideals (pleas note the small ‘d’ and small ‘r’) without towing either party’s public line, come back and have an honest discussion, even disagreement. Until then, go back to HuffPo. Please.

                  1. Restoras, there is constant hostility toward the idea that people should be able to vote for their own government here (they’ll just vote themselves other people’s money! etc…) That nobody ever offers an alternative that is not some form of tyranny is not my problem.

                    Second, I realize that the world isn’t organized into two political parties. But the American political system is. I say the same thing to Naderite liberals. For the most part you only have two choices, and there’s no such thing as not making a choice.

                    1. Re: Tony,

                      Restoras, there is constant hostility toward the idea that people should be able to vote for their own government here

                      Liar.

                      The hostility is towards the conceit of having this government rule over ALL, not just those that voted it in.

                    2. The hostility is towards the conceit of having this government rule over ALL, not just those that voted it in.

                      Aren’t you a whiny little baby.

                    3. Re: Tony,

                      Aren’t you a whiny little baby

                      Ha ha ha! Nice comeback there, you tot.

                    4. “Aren’t you a whiny little baby.”

                      Love it or leave it, baby!

                    5. People vote themselves other peoples money when they have no skin in the game. Solution: flat tax.

                      What form of tyranny, pray tell, has anyone here actually advocated? Doesn’t it strike you as a little odd that a libertarian discussion forum would advocate any form a tyranny?

                      As far as not having a real choice owing to the structure of the American political system, I don’t disagree with. Personally, I think the idea that that two puny-ass states have such an over-indexed influence on our political process is a joke. Maybe we should have all primaries in one week, roughly broken up into fifths of the population? And remember “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice”.

                    6. Restoras,

                      Definitely agree on the dysfunctional primary system. Ideally I’d prefer lessening the influence of parties altogether–but it’s just an ideal. George Washington rightly warned about factionalism. Unfortunately he was the last president not to be in one of two dominant parties, so I’m not sure how to fix it.

                      Nobody openly advocates tyranny, but I don’t see another alternative to consent of the governed. If you don’t get any of the policies you want in a democracy, then maybe you aren’t working hard enough to convince people. Or maybe your policies just don’t appeal to most people because they suck.

                    7. The alternative to what you call ‘consent of the governed’ is actual consent of the governed.

                    8. Re: Tony,

                      Nobody openly advocates tyranny, but I don’t see another alternative to consent of the governed.

                      First of all, your lack of imagination is not anybody’s problem but yours.

                      Second, “consent of the governed” only means people do not fight back. That’s all. You seem to not figure out what happens when people decide not to give their consent anymore – can you spell anarchy?

                      If you don’t get any of the policies you want in a democracy, then maybe you aren’t working hard enough to convince people.

                      If you can’t stop the gang from raping you, it’s your own damned fault for not being convincing enough.

                      Statist-fuck mentality, gang. Courtesy of Tony here.

                    9. Can I have my royalties now, please?

                    10. Thanks to the internal inconsistencies of both the parties, libertarians can get an inordinate amount of legislative victories by acting as a swing vote, forcing conservatives to be fiscal conservatives and liberals to be social liberals. I imagine that if we could get a a 20% minority, we could control the system entirely. Not there yet, but if you actually look at the opinions espoused by self-styled “independents”, you realize our numbers are growing.

                    11. “Restoras, there is constant hostility toward the idea that people should be able to vote for their own government here”

                      The hostility is towards a canned conception of democracy being genuinely virtuous outside of reference to government scope or prevailing culture.

                      Democracy is relatively and generally more desirable than other systems, but it can be not only just as bad but effectively worse than other systems given the aforementioned factors.

                      The “alternative” to democracy as it exists is not “no democracy”…it could very well be democracy with a differing scope or purview. Libertarians’ hostility to democracy arises from the public’ propensity (particularly in America) to not only equate democracy with freedom but to generalize democracy as being good or preferable without respect to other factors. It’s the deontological imperative with which many libertarians push their claims that draws them towards such skepticism. Simply catering to the greatest “good” or satisfaction on net may seem less lamentable now to some people. In a nation of bigots, racists, and homophobes democracy offers no comfort to those who believe in the primacy of certain inalienable rights. Therefore, for a libertarian, it’s not good enough to simply praise democracy (as generally preferable as it may be). Democracy, ultimately, is a social tool. It may be the best tool we have. But it’s not outside of the realm of possibility for such a tool to be used in the bludgeoning of other individuals (and history certainly bears this concern out).

                      To put it simply, praising democracy in a blanket fashion is like praising a particular gun in a blanket fashion. It may be more effective than other weapons, it may be cheaper, and it may malfunction less. But praising a gun in terms of the outcomes it produces also largely depends on who is holding it and what their intentions are. It might be great under the control of the right person. On the other hand it could be quite bad in the hands of other individuals, even if their intentions are good.

                    12. crossofcrimson,

                      I can’t disagree with anything you wrote. But fundamentally, anything other than letting people decide on their own policies is tyranny. That doesn’t preclude setting up supermajoritarian barriers to changing civil rights policies and such, but in the end, nothing can be above the will of the governed, not even first principles by which some may claim are the best way to live.

                    13. But fundamentally, anything other than letting people decide on their own policies is tyranny.

                      There’s no such thing as “the people” because there’s no such thing as a collective will. There is such thing as “people”, but it’s plural, not singular.

                      Democracy isn’t the antithesis of tyranny, freedom is. Democracy is often a willing participant in tyranny.

                    14. If 99% of the people want to throw the remaining 1% on a pyre, the 99% is wrong. You know why? Because, controversial though this may be, it’s wrong to set fire to innocent people.

                    15. Re: The Ingenious Hidalgo,

                      If 99% of the people want to throw the remaining 1% on a pyre, the 99% is wrong. You know why[, Tony]?

                      You’re asking the resident relativist here to define what is wrong and what is right.

                      It’s an exercise in futility, TIH.

                    16. “You’re asking the resident relativist here to define what is wrong and what is right.”

                      You’re giving too much intellectual credit by calling him a relativist. Tony thinks right-and-wrong are determined by the state, and has said so in exactly those words. That’s not relativism.

                    17. Tony thinks right-and-wrong are determined by the state, and has said so in exactly those words. That’s not relativism.

                      No, I don’t believe that. But if you want your definitions of right and wrong to apply to other people, it helps to have a common enforcement mechanism.

                    18. Re: Tony,

                      No, I don’t believe that.

                      Liar.

                      But if you want your definitions of right and wrong to apply to other people, it helps to have a common enforcement mechanism.

                      So let me understand: 2+2=5 or else I break your arm?

                      The mind of the Statist fuck.

                    19. Yeah, but he should at least have the guts to say the 1% should be burned, if that’s what he believes.

                    20. But fundamentally, anything other than letting people decide on their own policies is tyranny.

                      By that definition, forcing people to pay taxes for policies they oppose is tyranny.

                    21. Re: Tony,

                      But fundamentally, anything other than letting people decide on their own policies is tyranny.

                      For instance, me deciding on the policy of cleaning my front porch with a broom is tyranny. Instead, when the collective decides to clear me from my house as a matter of policy, well, that ain’t tyranny!

                      That doesn’t preclude setting up supermajoritarian barriers to changing civil rights policies and such,

                      It doesn’t preclude not setting them, either. Or getting around such barriers when expediency dictates it.

                      You lack sophistication, Tony – which is a nice way of saying that you’re an ignorant fool.

                    22. “But fundamentally, anything other than letting people decide on their own policies is tyranny. That doesn’t preclude setting up supermajoritarian barriers to changing civil rights policies and such, but in the end, nothing can be above the will of the governed, not even first principles by which some may claim are the best way to live.”

                      Others have already brought up some important counter-points here, but I’ll try adding something to it:

                      Letting “people” decide on “their own” policies sounds fine, as far as it goes. But that encompasses a wide spectrum of application. For instance, by “people” we could be talking about each individual separately, the entire group, a majority, a super majority, a simple plurality – of a town, a city, a county, a nation, or even the world. There are a plethora of arguments for any various combination of the above and how any given one might more justifiably constitutes a “democracy” in that aspect.

                      And then we have the question of constitutive structure therein. How do we divide these powers at any given level of government (if at all). Is a bicameral legislature enough? A judicial and executive wing of government prowess? Would it make more sense to have a single branch of government at each level? How about twenty?

                      Or, maybe more relevant to this conversation would be an argument about the scope of such a government. Are the “policies” that they decide on unbounded in their reach? Is there anything that’s off the table so to speak? Should this apply to all levels of government, certain branches, etc.?

                      Or maybe we could forego talk of division altogether. We could certainly create a national democracy with a single governor, appointed every two, four, or six years perhaps; one with and unlimited scope of power during his reign with the exception of the possibility of recall (upon another vote). There would be nothing that would make this scenario any more or less of a democracy, arguably, than what we have right now. Would you also defend this democracy, as such, because anything else is tyranny? I’d venture to say you wouldn’t say such a thing (giving you the benefit of the doubt here).

                      So this is where libertarian skepticism is born in regards to democracy; it follows clearly and directly from the ambiguity of the term, preferable as some iteration of democracy may be. If many a libertarian were given the choice between two scenarios – a philosopher king who relentlessly upholds the natural rights of his citizens, or a democracy (even one with nifty bells and whistles to attempt to prevent tyranny) in which 99% of the populace are cannibals hell-bent on eating their neighbors’ children, he may, astonishingly enough, side with the philosopher-king as it were. Of course, if 99% of the populace was hell-bent on this, there might not be much a philosopher-king can do to stop it. Of course, this famously puts the knife of the democratic liberal (small-d) at his own throat – for if a majority or super-majority is achieved in achieving some charitable end, then one must wonder why people need to use their right hand to work towards a government who will force their left hand to give. But this is another story altogether.

                      To illustrate the original point more clearly, we can look at a similar situation where the tables are somewhat reversed for liberals. Let’s take the Constitution, for instance. Often liberals, when discussing it, disregard appeals to both antiquity and current positive law – and rightfully so. What is contained in the Constitution, from a philosophical perspective, is not validated by the fact that it is traditionally respected; nor anything therein validated by the fact that it is indeed therein. Liberals rightfully recognize that it’s important to judge the Constitution not simply by what it says in the positive sense, but on a moral and philosophical basis.

                      This gives them a (somewhat rightful) disdain in some sense for pure “rule-of-law” conservatives. It puts them in a place where they can stress the importance of the fact that some things contained within it may be wrong, and can be changed.

                      I would venture to say that these distinctions that liberals (and many libertarians) make about the Constitution is analogous to the distinctions that republicans (and many libertarians) make regarding democracy. It’s not good enough (for some of us) to simply say that either a democracy or a constitution serves people best. A distinction must be made between specific constitutions and democracies. To that extent, many libertarians greatly admire our PARTICULAR democracy. They may also admire our PARTICULAR constitution. But we generally recognize these as means to ends – vehicles to preserve the natural rights of man…not an end in themselves. So libertarians generally revere our democracy and our constitution to the extent that they preserve our freedom, and despise them to the extent that they detract from our inalienable rights. Now, you’ll find some libertarians that admire both our democratic and constitutional qualities, some libertarians who admire one aspect more than the other, and some who admire neither. But in most respects their position follows from their view of government (or its absence as it may be) as a means to preserve individual liberty. In this way, they will assert that a constitution or democracy that cedes massive amounts of power away from the individual (even for egalitarian ends) is nothing worthy of praise.

                    23. Lots of typos in my last post (I wrote the response too quickly) – my apologies.

                    24. crossofcrimson,

                      Interesting post.

                      But we generally recognize these as means to ends – vehicles to preserve the natural rights of man…not an end in themselves.

                      You may be surprised by how far I’m willing to go, pragmatically, in tolerating situations that are less than democratic in order to achieve certain ends. I can’t even say with certainty that a temporary dictatorship is out of the question. Maybe there are instances in which martial law is the best option. Life isn’t always ideal, and sometimes it’s quite far from ideal, and all that matters is survival.

                      But where I get hung up is on natural rights. Surely these abstractions must also be in the service of human well-being. After all, you’ve demonstrated your pragmatism. What if individual rights need to be suspended in the service of pure survival? It could happen–if the alternative is darwinian hell.

                      Human well-being must be at the center. Otherwise you may be justifying a preventable level of human suffering by appealing to the supposed demands of philosophical abstractions.

                      So democracy, in normal times, maximizes human well-being compared to other forms, precisely because it maximizes individual liberty–what is more free than having an equal say in the government you share with everyone else? That is an instance where both your concerns and mine coincide.

                    25. “But where I get hung up is on natural rights. Surely these abstractions must also be in the service of human well-being. After all, you’ve demonstrated your pragmatism. What if individual rights need to be suspended in the service of pure survival? It could happen–if the alternative is darwinian hell.”

                      Oh brother, is there ever a lot that could be explored with this comment lol. This is where it gets kind of weird because I have two working lines of reason regarding the role of natural rights which are contradictory in their derivations but practically the same in their conclusions.

                      There are lots of different flavors of libertarianism but I’d argue that there are two main splits – deontological and consequentialist.

                      I personally thing most of the strongest ethical arguments for libertarianism are in the deontological camp – believing that liberty springs from self-ownership and that sad ownership is absolute. This would basically encompass the conception that the initiation of force is NEVER “right”…even when prudent. It’s obviously more complicated that this. But I think some of the strongest moral arguments for it come from this standpoint.

                      On the other hand you have the consequentialist arguments as well. What is probably confusing for a lot of people is that when arguing with many libertarians, like me, you’ll find that we believe both to be valid – and that it’s more than mere coincidence. We believe that rights are absolute and the basis for a large part of our moral identity, and we also believe that protecting these basic human rights leads to better egalitarian ends on net as well.

                      That’s bound to get confusing after a while. If you come up to us with talk about taxing the rich we’ll defend them with appeals to deontological arguments. When you come up to us with talk about helping the poor, we’ll bring up points about how some of these policies hurt the poor on net and how more libertarian policies may help.

                      I bring up these distinctions because I think your response uncovers and interesting point about the history of both the liberal and libertarian political philosophies – we have a shared history up until the last century or so. Back in the 18th or 19th century I would have called myself a liberal. We get the very conception of “left” and “right” ideologies from 18th century France, where those on the side of the common man and his cause for independence and individual sovereignty (liberals) sat on the left of the assembly while defenders of the the throne, tradition, and the status quo (conservatives) sat on the right. And while there was obviously some divergence within each group, we may have very well found ourselves on the same side of history. Indeed, both Proudhon (socialist philosopher) and Bastiat (libertarian icon) sat on the left together. So what happened?

                      In America the story is peculiar. Our liberal tradition at the birth of our democracy flowed directly from the liberal thought that dominated the Enlightenment (Locke, et al). And for at least a very large chunk of the country’s history, liberal meant what it had traditionally meant, a move away from state power and the status quo towards freedom and prosperity for the common man. But there is an interesting cross-section of US history (towards the end of the 19th century and into the 20th) where, with the rise of socialism/progressivism – as we know it – some of the terminology as it had been traditionally used started to become bent and reshaped. What followed was a very odd turn of events in our political history (in my opinion).

                      There was a sect of liberalism (particularly the northern democrats of the late 19th century) which began to see state power and control as a means to achieve their egalitarian/socialist ends. I’m sure, but not certain exactly to what extent, that the politics of the post-Civil War world maybe have been what lead to the bifurcation. In any case, by the early 20th century these new liberals (or “progressives”) who wished to co-opt the state aperatus to achieve their ends ended up ceding the mantle away from traditional liberals. From this point you had some weird ripples in the political pond.

                      You had the incursion of liberal economic values in conservative movement (most noticeable in the “Old Right” movement of the FDR era). I think, ironically, the long-shared antagonism that conservatives had with liberals almost morphed itself over time to meet the new strand of liberalism. Its response to this new wing applying economic state controls to achieve their egalitarian ends was to come to oppose state control in the realm of economics. And, of course, the libertarian strand of politics emerged from the defectors of liberalism who still renounced state power and privilege. And that bifurcation led to some tenuous and odd net alliances with conservatives for the next seventy years or so – and less famously alliances with this new incarnation occasionally as well (particularly in the Vietnam era and afterwards).

                      In any case, this is why American libertarians call themselves “classical liberals”…they believe they uphold the true liberal tradition and that the current manifestation of of liberals have hastily abandoned some of their original principles in order to achieve their ends. Our being at odds with current liberals and somewhat allied with current conservatives have also led to a substantial “beat-down” (self-inflicted) of our egalitarian side unfortunately. We get so heat, sometimes, regarding what we see as liberals’ propensity to resort to violence that we end up seeming like we’re against their general ends rather than their means…..and that’s mostly simply not the case.

                      So, I think it’s important to understand that, especially traditionally, the libertarian (classical liberal) view is not that we shouldn’t be striving for good results X, Y, and Z but rather that there are ways to achieve them through peace and freedom – and arguably better and faster than would happen otherwise. Of course, that view is marginal, but we should keep in mind that to some degree our ends don’t really conflict at all…we just disagree about how to get there.

                      As an aside, interestingly enough, there’s a little bit of a revival in bringing the consequentialist libertarian arguments back to life – mainly through a current resurgence of the “libertarian-left”. I still have some issues with the outlook of many of them – but if your focus is on the ends and you aren’t particularly caught up in your concern for the means by which to achieve them (which many of us here are) then you might want to confront them to get a better view of that side of the libertarian argument – Bleeding Heart Libertarians I think is a new interesting blog that fills this role quite nicely…I’m particularly a fan of Roderick Long who is now a contributor there.

                    26. and, like always, TONS OF TYPOS! Apologies again…

                    27. The Swiss seem to have a good handle on real democracy. They turned down the oligarchy’s attempts to infringe their rights to own guns. And their politicians first try to sell policies to their citizens since it’s so easy to set up a binding vote to reverse unpopular laws. A very good example to follow, see http://www.lifestrategies.net/switzerland

                  2. towing either party’s public line

                    You can tow a lion or toe a line, pick one and stop mixing metaphors.

                    1. You are right. But what would I do with a towline?

                    2. Simple, tie one end to a lion and the other to your big toe. Then tow to your heart’s content.

                4. As we find the progressive love of tyranny.

              2. We would all be better off if I was the only one with a vote. You’ll have to trust me on that. (You would have to trust me on that.)

                1. Thank Zod. I finally found the end of the stoopid. (Not you FoE)

                  My scrolling finger is cramped.

                  1. No one has ever accused me of being the end of stupid.

          3. “The human brain doesn’t fully develop it’s cognitive capacity until around 25 years old on average.”

            Bullshit.

            1. Well, that may be about right, but what was not mentioned is that the cognitive capacity declines after that. Maybe only 25 year olds should be allowed to vote. (not really)

        3. No, they really do want to disenfranchise college students. For freedom, no doubt.

          Where is the disenfranchisement? There is nothing in this article that argues for a removal of the right to vote. It simply enforces the requirement to vote in your state of residency. Every person who works out of state must comply with this as well. Are they disenfranchised?

          1. Only if they vote for Team Blue.

      3. Did someone takeover the Tony puppet? I never saw him use a hyperlink until the other day. Unless of course you can teach an old Tony new tricks, which I doubt since he’s a one-trick pony.

      4. Fist of Etiquette|3.18.11 @ 11:05AM|#
        This is a parody, right?

        No, he really is that stupid.

    1. And I forgot even further eroding the line between corporate money and politics.

      But that’s just because they love free speech.

      1. It doesn’t matter what their motivations are. They are right about the free speech/press (don’t forget press gets the same protection, and campaign ads are press) issues.

    2. You are a good liberal, Tony.

      Your check is in the mail.

      1. Yeah! WE should be the only ones who can use money for political speech!

        1. Idiot, Citizens United was justified by the excuse that unions can spend just like corporations, so it’s fair. So now, obviously, it’s union busting time!

          1. It’s only okay when unions do it.

            1. I’m for public funding of elections, so bite me.

              If you really do care about the influence of money in politics, you’re a hypocrite if you only focus on unions.

              1. Re: Tony,

                If you really do care about the influence of money in politics, you’re a hypocrite if you only focus on unions.

                But you’re not a hypocrite when you only focus on the supposed influence of eeevil corporashiuns, I gather.

              2. Only if every candidate gets the same amount of money… which will never happen.

              3. Oh noes!!! The dreaded ‘bite me!’ comeback!!!1!1!

                Let’s us all cower in fear of Tony’s rapier wit and incisive intellect!!!

              4. Tony|3.18.11 @ 11:24AM|#
                “I’m for public funding of elections, so bite me.”

                We know you’re an ignoramus. Eat shit.

              5. you’re a hypocrite if you only focus on unions.

                Actually I think everyone is a hypocrite for not actually looking at who was harmed by the law in the case.

                Namely politically active film makers who simply were expressing their political opinions.

                People can worry about unions and corporations political influence until they are red in the face…but the Mcain fiengold law as written harmed individuals who were neither unions or corporations…..it silenced political speech and that is what the issue is.

                1. That’s “The McCain-Feingold Fuck, We Have to Protect Our Incumbency Act”.

              6. yeah, what could possibly go wrong if the government funds its own elections for its own candidates and bans all the others?

            2. hurr durr TEAM BLUE! hurr durr

              1. hurr durr TEAM RED! hurr durr

                1. Odd, I haven’t seen much love for the Republicans here.

                  1. Just another libtard with blinkers on, dutifully TOEING the party line.

          2. Don’t corporations exist as they are today because of our absurd tax code? If you want to bust corporations (the big ones anyway) maybe tax code reform should be on the table.

            1. You get rid of limited liability and most of the problems with corporations vanish. Yet I only hear arguments against limited liability coming from libertarians. Maybe that’s because our system would be more purely capitalist then, and it’s capitalism that they’re against, and corporations are just a convenient boogeyman.

              1. Yet I only hear arguments against limited liability coming from libertarians.

                That is due to an insufficient sample from across the political spectrum, methinks. Listen with your left ear, perhaps.

            2. Why did Citizens United become an issue in the first place, Tony? The real heart of that fight was the blocking of release of… a movie. How free-speechy is that?

              1. Well for some reason John Roberts decided to broaden the decision beyond the dispute at hand.

                1. And who made it a dispute in the first place?

                  Sidestepped the free-speech angle, didn’t you?

                2. Well for some reason John Roberts decided to broaden the decision beyond the dispute at hand.

                  That would be when the Solicitor General of the United States argued that if the law were upheld, the USA could ban books and pamphlets from being published by corporate publishers close to an election.

                  The SG tried to argue that it wasn’t a problem, since they’d promise never to do it as a matter of policy, but also argued that the US certainly had the power to.

                  You really have no problem siding with the book-banners and pamphlet banners, Tony?

                  1. You really have no problem siding with the book-banners and pamphlet banners, Tony?

                    As long as the right books are banned none of the statists care. Hell, they’ll be the guys in hoods tending the fires.

          3. “Idiot, Citizens United was justified by the excuse that unions can spend just like corporations, so it’s fair. So now, obviously, it’s union busting time!”

            A union is essentially a corporation that provides labor services. The difference is they’re exempt from anti-trust laws.

          4. Tony|3.18.11 @ 11:19AM|#
            Idiot, Citizens United was justified by the excuse that unions can spend just like corporations, so it’s fair.

            No, moron, it was based on the fact that the First Amendment doesn’t say “..except for corporations, unions, etc. etc.”

            1. And it doesn’t say money=speech either.

              1. Re: Tony,
                And it doesn’t say money=speech either.
                Thus said the subnormal that thinks “Congress shall not make any law” means Congress can.

              2. It doesn’t say twat shots = speech either.

              3. Clearly, otherwise money would win elections, Meg Whitman would be the governer of California, and Linda McMahon a senator from Massachussets.

                1. Obviously just because they lost doesn’t mean money has no impact. Otherwise why would politicians bother with so much fundraising?

                  1. Tony|3.18.11 @ 11:56AM|#
                    “Obviously just because they lost doesn’t mean money has no impact.”

                    So, now, hypocrite, you admit money = speech.

              4. And it doesn’t say money=speech either.

                Of course it doesn’t, because money does not equal speech. Money is simply a means by which to distribute speech. So by constraining the money part, you effectively constrain speech. The “money is not speech” argument is no different than claiming “TV is not speech” or “radio is not speech”.

                Should we go back to the days of public gatherings in the town square to hear people on their soapbox?

                1. Ow! My brain hurts!

                2. C’mon, RP, you can’t really expect Tony to apply logic and honesty to his agenda!

              5. And it doesn’t say money=speech either.

                And it also doesn’t say speech=money.

                Educate yourself on the legal definition of an ‘in-kind’ contribution, Tony.

                In Tony’s world, free speech =

                “The right of the people to speak with their unamplified voice in a square of the government’s choosing, shall not be infringed”

                Hooray for progressive values!!1!!

              6. But I’m pretty sure it could be read to indicate that documentaries=speech.

                1. But I’m pretty sure it could be read to indicate that documentaries=speech.

                  In progressiveland, not if they mention a candidate by name within 60 days of an election.

                  Free speech is the #1 issue that really makes me fucking angry at progressives. I’m sick and tired of “I’m all for freedom of speech, but…”

              7. “And it doesn’t say money=speech either.”

                No but it does include something about freedom of the press. You would have to be pretty stupid or dishonest to claim that that does not include corporate presses. Why does everyone always put this in terms of speech? Press is really much more relevant in discussions of political communications. I agree that money is not speech. Speech is free and comes out of one person’s mouth. The press, on the other hand is almost always a collaborative effort, requiring money and frequently run by a corporation.

          5. What happened to the “consent of the governed” you were all on about a second ago? Do you think forcing people to be in a union and to “contribute” as a requirement for employment is tyrannical in any way?

            1. No more so than any of the myriad other ways people are forced into doing certain things at their place of employment. But if it’s employers doing the forcing, you guys usually tell people they are free to work elsewhere.

              1. Are you suggesting that it isn’t tyrannical to force teachers to leave, say, Wisconsin if they want to teach in public schools and not be forced to pay the union?

                Don’t you see what a fucking hypocrite you are?

              2. And what are some of the myriad things people are forced to do at their places of employment that you would compare to forced monetary payment to a union that engages in political action with which they don’t necessarily agree?

                1. It’s not forced if you can work elsewhere. Isn’t that what you’d say if I pointed out an employee who disagrees with his CEO’s political activities?

                  1. Because one private CEO’s hypothetical requirements are analogous to every public school’s actual requirement, right? If teachers in Wisconsin had the ability to go to another public school in the state to avoid the union dues, you might have a point.

                    Again, are you saying that mandating that teachers in an entire state pay the union to have the ability to work in public schools isn’t tyrannical because they can leave the jurisdiction?

          6. Feel free to bust the public sector corporations. I doubt the Democratic Party will give you any support there, though.

    3. Glad to see you have a grasp of the complexity of that situation.

      1. Wow, what a beat down! It was like watching our entire team play against the General’s worst player.

    4. Praise be to future President Jesus and his pet dinosaur.

      I thought President Jesus and his pet dinosaur were already in office?

    5. College students are dependents until age 26, per PPACA. Dependents shouldn’t be able to vote, it’s bad for democracy.

      1. I think the standard became, if the government can send you to war, you should be able to vote.

  3. But, but..ABORTION!

    /look over there

  4. “Wee Wee Eyes” for the win!!

  5. They are rapidly using up their limited political capital for getting control of the budget on trivial spending cuts, such as defunding National Public Radio, that will have no long-term impact.

    If Bartlett has a coherent point here, I can’t figure out what is. He rightly castigates the Bush republicans for being big spenders, yet at the same he slams the Tea Party (the people who are actually pushing to cut spending).

    Uh, Mr. Bartlett, the republicans have limited political capital because the democrats still control the Senate and the White House. In case you hadn’t noticed, just making these tiny cuts in things like NPR is total political war. If he has a actual idea for how government spending should be cut, I would love to hear what it is.

    1. Bartlett’s coherent point is that now he really, really hates Republicans and anyone who runs under their name, so he’ll even resort to blatant lying (as about how many Senate Democrats voted for Medicare Part D, for instance, as he still insists it was “none” despite me showing him the roll call) to insult them.

      Or he’ll publicly praise guys like David Frum as soon as they break with the current GOP leadership, even though Frum did and still does support exactly the same sort of policies that Bartlett rightly attacked in Imposter.

      1. It doesn’t matter how many times you try to blame the Dems for Medicare Pharma Welfare – it was championed by Bush, who lied to Congress about its cost, DeLay hammered the bill home at 3am all the while bribing GOP holdouts and Frist worked it in the Senate while Pharma wrote it for the GOP to stick the taxpayer with cost-fixed crap drugs.

        1. Ah, so the Democrats just voted for it because they believed in it, but the Republicans had to be lied to and have their arms twisted by a terrible president?

          Fine, George W. Bush was an awful President.

          I certainly haven’t noticed the Democrats repealing or changing Medicare Part D.

          You’ve convinced me that GWB was a terrible President, and the Republicans are stupid while Democrats are evil.

        2. I must have missed when the Democrats tried to repeal it or change it.

          You must think that they have no balls either, shrike.

          1. Hey, I’ll leave it on that high note! Democrats have been neutered too.

            1. Neutered? If only… literally.

        3. It doesn’t matter how many times you try to blame the Dems for Medicare Pharma Welfare – it was championed by Bush, who lied to Congress about its cost

          How does a president lie to congress about the cost of anything? Obama has lied repeatedly about the cost of Obamacare, but in the end, it’s legislators which have the bill and the numbers at their fingertips. So if they passed it, lie or no, it’s on them.

    2. Because he is right – the Tea Party is proving insignificant.

      If they/GOP had balls why not repeal Medicare Part D, the monstrosity from the GOP that started the budget mess (along with the wars)?

      1. But since Medicare Part D only costs $68 billion a year, isn’t it the same size as these trivial ticky-tack cuts that the GOP is pushing for this year?

        If they get their $68 billion in cuts for the rest of this year, they’ll have “paid for” Medicare Part D by your logic. Certainly that should make you and Bartlett proud, since your only objection, IIRC, was that Part D wasn’t paid for.

        You have a weird definition of “started.” Sure, Medicare Part D will cost more down the road, but if you’re making an argument on that basis, then you certainly have to admit that Medicare Part A “started the budget mess.”

        Luckily, you’re incoherent and illogical, so you have no expectation or need to be consistent.

        I’m all for repealing Medicare Part D. But it’s stupid to oppose cuts equal in size to what we’re spending on Medicare Part D because Medicare Part D exists.

        1. Apparently, you benefit from Part D and I do not. It should be killed anyway.

          And Clinton left an annual budget surplus (which has been proven despite claims to the contrary) – the deficit problems are 100% Bushpig caused.

          1. Apparently, you benefit from Part D and I do not. It should be killed anyway.

            I do not. You are apparently projecting from your own pro-TARP views.

            It absolutely should be killed.

            The Democrats failed to do so when they had a huge minority. They are acquiescing to Medicare Part D.

            I’m not complaining about Clinton; his handling of the budget was superior to Bush, sure.

            I’m complaining about the current parties, where Obama is supporting nearly all Bush policies, especially on the budget, except for wanting to spend even more.

            1. not to mention that the democrats not only kept medicare D in their recent health bill, but also expanded it via closing the donut hole. It may have been bush pushing for the program, but democrats dont want to get rid of it either.

          2. “And Clinton left an annual budget surplus.”

            That’s because he raised taxes, enjoyed revenues from the dot-com bubble, and had a Republican congress that derailed his spending agenda.

            You’re right, though, during the Clinton years, the government was far more fiscally conservative than either the Bush or Obama years, and look how it worked out.

      2. why not repeal Medicare Part D, the monstrosity from the GOP that started the budget mess (along with the wars)?

        Has the budget only been a mess since the wars started? I was under the impression that we’ve been spending too much since long before that.

        1. As I have pointed out Clinton left an annual budget surplus.

          So from a BUDGETING perspective it all started in 2001.

          The SPENDING problem began long ago.

          1. Yes, Clinton did. Great. Like Rand Paul, I agree that the Clinton years were much better for the budget.

            What does that have to do with the current Democratic leadership?

            1. That it’s dishonest partisan bullshit to blame any fiscal crisis we may be having on them? Apart from all of Bush’s deficit spending, there was this recession thing, which, again, was not caused by Obama. I know you probably think that stimulus was not the way to go, but if we hadn’t spent that money the deficit situation would be no better and there would be no pathway to fixing it since the economy would not be generating needed revenues for the foreseeable future.

              1. Tony|3.18.11 @ 12:30PM|#
                “That it’s dishonest partisan bullshit to blame any fiscal crisis we may be having on them?…”

                Tony, you are very fortunate that strawmen don’t hit back.

                1. So Tony is O’Hara?

                  (couldn’t resist)

              2. I know you probably think that stimulus was not the way to go, but if we hadn’t spent that money the deficit situation would be no better and there would be no pathway to fixing it since the economy would not be generating needed revenues for the foreseeable future.

                Begging the question. You’re asking me to assume that the multiplier was enormously large.

                Furthermore, you’re actually going much further than most Keynesian economists– even the vast majority of those that believe in a high multiplier don’t argue that the multiplier is so high that the effect on the economy is so great that deficit spending actually decreases the deficit.

                Tony, you’re being exactly the same as the loopiest supply-sider that argues that tax cuts actually increase government revenue on net, instead of having some multiplier effect.

                Besides, a great deal of Bush’s deficit spending you must have supported, Tony. After all, it occurred during a recession at the start of his presidency, which, again, was not caused by Bush. Bush’s deficits were much larger during the recession (2002-2004) than in his second term, just as Keynesians would want.

                If you believe in large multipliers, then you must believe that Bush’s deficit spending was a good thing. And even Keynesian economists who like spending more than tax cuts (unlike Christine Romer) think that tax cuts, especially those targeted at the poor and middle class like Bush’s refund checks, have *some* multiplier.

                Otherwise you’re just spouting dishonest partisan bullshit.

                1. Re: John Thacker,

                  Otherwise you’re just spouting dishonest partisan bullshit.

                  You finally figured him out, huh?

                2. I should have read your response first.

                3. John I’m not arguing that the deficit spending reduces the deficit in the short-term, but arguably it will in the long-term, since the major cause of high deficits is a depressed economy–the thing stimulus spending is meant to fix in the short-term.

              3. You cannot attack “all of Bush’s deficit spending” during a recession at the start of his first term (which was not caused by him), and then simultaneously so strenuously defend Obama’s deficit spending on Keynesian grounds, arguing that the multipliers are so huge that the “deficit situation would be no better” if we hadn’t spent the money.

              4. “” Apart from all of Bush’s deficit spending, there was this recession thing, which, again, was not caused by Obama. “”

                I’ll agree with that, but what person would come out and spend a trillion dollars in a stimulus bill after acknowledging the country is in a fiscal crisis?

                Its like Obama’s stance was screw the situtation Bush put us in, I’m spending more money.

                1. It wasn’t a fiscal crisis (and still isn’t). It was a recession crisis. Now we’re not in recession, but we still do have an employment crisis, and I don’t see how you address the fiscal situation without first addressing that anyway.

              5. “Apart from all of Bush’s deficit spending, there was this recession thing, which, again, was not caused by Obama.”

                Oh, dear God, the irony! The majority of Bush’s deficits were cause by the 2001 recession, you idiot!

                Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Obama. Falling revenues can only account for about a third of his deficits.

                The vast majority

              6. “That it’s dishonest partisan bullshit to blame any fiscal crisis we may be having on them?”

                No, it isn’t dishonest partisan bullshit to point out the fiscal irresponsibility of THIS administration AND the previous gang of thugs and thieves, which also describes the current gang.

          2. I might be crazy, but SPENDING is a huge part (maybe half) of BUDGETING.

            1. I might be crazy, but SPENDING is a huge part (maybe half) of BUDGETING.

              But just yesterday you said you still have checks left…

          3. mush of the late 90s surpluss was due to a internet bubble causing tax receipts to jumpt ot he highest level ever as a percent of GDP and causing safety net programs expendatures to drop. It was unsustanable.

            Yes Bush made it worse, but there was nto a structual surplus before he came along. Much of the deficit was due to the bubble collasing.

            Besides, we were in a recession back then. If you think keynsian stimulus has a lot of effaccy, then takign deficits in 2001-2004 is exactly what was supposed to be done. Obama’s deficit spending cant be good while Bush’s bad. Either they were both rpoper to do, or they both were not.

            1. Didn’t you get the memo? Deficit spending only stimulates an economy when a Democrat is in the white house. When it’s Ronald Reagan or George Bush, deficits are just pure fiscal irresponsibility!

            2. Obama’s deficit spending cant be good while Bush’s bad. Either they were both rpoper to do, or they both were not.

              Why? Doesn’t it matter what it’s spent on? No doubt Bush’s wars were a boon for defense contractors. I can’t think of any major spending program Bush oversaw that was geared toward stimulating growth in an efficient way.

              1. “Doesn’t it matter what it’s spent on”

                This shows how little know nothing about hiow fiscal stimulus works – and your support of stimulsu int he name of eocnomi growth was just cover for you desire tos pend all this money away anyway.

                Yes certain things have slightly higher or lower multipliers than others (and Obama’s stimulus was not any higher on net than Bush’s), but the primary factor that drives job growth is how big of a deficit you take. Thats what keynsian theory is – you borrow money to creat new demand. It doesnt matter whether that demand is building tanks or spending money on food stamps. If you think the Obama stimulus “saved or created” x million jobs, then Bush’s deficits did the same.

                1. So Tony, you have to admit that either Bush helped the economy out by taking deficits, or that Obama just totally wasted a ton of money – an amount much bigger that Bush did.

      3. Because he is right – the Tea Party is proving insignificant.

        Like everyone else here, I too wish we had a more responsible political system on both sides of the aisle, but at a certain point you have to deal with political reality.

        And the reality is the Tea Party is unfortunately still a minority within the elected republican party. And the reality is also that even if every single republican in Congress were a full-throated Tea Party member, they still wouldn’t be able to enforce a single damn cut into budgetary law without Obama and some of the Senate democrats agreeing to it. The only they could do would be to shut the government down (which I personally wish the republicans would do now).

        Let’s get Tea Party members in control of the White House, House, and Senate and then we’ll see just how insignificant they really are.

        1. Tea Party=conservative Republicans with a shiny new logo.

          1. Tony|3.18.11 @ 12:31PM|#
            “Tea Party=conservative Republicans with a shiny new logo.”

            Tony = same old shithead.

      4. Because he is right – the Tea Party is proving insignificant.

        Noted. Will regurgitate this when we get the predictable: “The Tea Party is destroying the world with their unstoppable powers!!!”

  6. If the GOP must die for Rand Paul to live, well, that’s not even a choice.

    Must these Englishmen live that I might die

    (Props to Warty … and the UN.)

  7. Assuming real spending reform and cuts are the goal, I think Bartlett misses asking the real question.

    He complains about the Repubs wasting political capital on ticky-tacky cuts that they should be using for major cuts, without ever asking who is behind the ticky-tacky cut strategy, and who wants major cuts.

    He assumes the ticky-tacky is Tea Party, but I think he gets it backwards. The ticky-tacky strategy isn’t the Tea Party strategy, its the Republican leadership strategy. Continuing resolutions, symbolic cuts – is that what the Tea Party really wants, or is that what leadership is doing to be “responsible” and “bipartisan”? Pretty clearly, its the latter.

    1. This.

      Obviously, the Tea Party would be pushing the Rand plan if given the chance.

    2. Yeah, the Tea Party only obsesses publicly about trivial things like cutting NPR, but deep down they really want to see entitlement cuts that polling shows that they oppose.

      1. (^_^)

      2. Of course, polling shows that non-Tea Party types oppose entitlement cuts even more.

      3. Importantly, Rand Paul’s proposed $500 billion in cuts didn’t touch entitlements.

  8. BTW someone should let The Jacket know that the first pic is a blank. For me anyway. I still like the alt text, though.

    1. Hotlinking images is THEFT! And unreliable.

      1. Well he put a different image up. I wish he’d left it blank.

      2. Hotlinking is just like instructing someone to go to the library and open a book to a certain page, and put that next to a certain page in another book on the table, and read them together. What’s wrong with that? You put an image on a server, you serve it. You wanna insist it serve only in a certain context? Like nobody should read the funny pages in your newspaper without perusing the classifieds or your editorials? Like nobody should use the musical sound track of your TV show as background for their other activities around the house, without watching the action of the show? Where but the World Wide Web do people object to collage-making and decontextualizing, or even call it theft? It’s something we do with any other medium I can think of.

  9. If you can’t cut a fly speck like NPR how on Earth will you ever make cuts to the big behemoths?

    1. CRITICALINVESTMENTFUTURECHILDRENZINDISPENSIBLE!!!!

      ROADZSTARVINGOLDPEOPLEMONOCLEINFACTNSBLOODSOMALIACHAOS!!!!!!!!11!!

      I hope that clarifies things, Tim

      1. That’s what I was going to say!

    2. If you can’t dust your mantle while your house is on fire during an earthquake…

  10. Why do you idiots converse with the Tony sockpuppet? Its only purpose is to wind you up. Can’t you see that?

    1. We do they even see what Tony writes?

      1. I’m philosophically against incifing, rob. I know you do it–and that’s fine–but it’s not for me.

        1. Thats fine, but why?

          I mean, if you are going to call someone an idiot for conversing with Tony, then why even have 1/2 the conversation?

          For me, its the easiest way to avoid responding to trolls. INCIF is a tool to avoid being an idiot.

      2. My company requires the use of an antique version of IE and actively prohibits the use of a real browser.

    2. HAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I love you, Epi, but come on, pal…..

      RECTAL!!!!!

      *ducks*

    3. Like the Saga song?

      1. Holy 80’s Canuck rock ProL.

        Many, many years ago, I won tickets to a Saga concert by finishing 2nd in a beer chugging contest.

    4. Re: Episiarch,

      Why do you idiots converse with the Tony sockpuppet?

      It’s “free speech friday.”

      Don’t you ever listen to talk radio?

    5. Episiarch|3.18.11 @ 11:48AM|#
      Why do you idiots converse with the Tony sockpuppet? Its only purpose is to wind you up. Can’t you see that

      I don’t know – because it provides me with some mindless entertainment? Sometimes I like to kill some time by burining ants with a magnifying glass, sometimes I kill time arguing with morons like Tony.

    6. Why do you idiots converse with the Tony sockpuppet?

      I was wondering the same thing. It’s alike a bukakke gang-bang of dishonesty and virulent imbecility, all over the page.

      I may have to start incifing.

  11. They are rapidly using up their limited political capital for getting control of the budget on trivial spending cuts

    P Brooks|3.17.11 @ 4:19PM|#

    And to all those who say, “(X) is an insignificant fraction of the budget; cutting it is meaningless symbolism and/or petty vindictiveness!”

    I say again:

    Cut it; chop chop.
    And when the sky does not fall, when anarchy, chaos and cannibalism do not seize the land, we can come out of our bunkers and cut some more.

    —-

    STFU, Bartlett.

    1. If X is a small percentage, they’ll say it’s insignificant. If it’s a large percentage they’ll say you can’t cut because you’re cutting vital services.

      1. If you spend weeks attempting to cut X, then X better be more than a rounding error. If you really want to cut a tiny X, then attach it as a rider to a much bigger cut.

  12. Bartlett doesn’t actually want spending cut. He hasn’t for years. He just wants to hate Republicans.

    His argument based on popularity is weak, even by his currently intellectually dim lights.

    I am fully convinced from all his utterances that if Republicans were trying to cut entitlements or repeal Medicare Part D at this moment, he would cite the even worse polls on cutting those things as evidence that the GOP was missing its opportunity to cut spending even a little by going after things that will never be cut, especially not with a Democratic President and Senate.

    Bruce Bartlett doesn’t stand for anything, not in an intellectual or policy sense.

  13. To be thorough, Butterworth checked with the homeowner and confirmed that “neither Robert, six naked girls, or Charlie Sheen had ever been to his residence.”

  14. Block quote?

    Hmm.

  15. And, for fuck’s sake, stop talking about the TEA PARTY as if it’s some sort of coherent, monolithic, structured political philosophy.

    1. I have it on good authority that they are being controlled by the Masons, who are being controlled by the 5 Jewish bankers at the center of the earth.

  16. HURRRRRRR……

  17. Hell it was the left does…talk about everyone else but Rand Paul when trying to criticize him.

    Why shouldn’t the right do the same thing?

  18. The mind of the Statist Fuck:

    Re: Tony,

    But fundamentally, anything other than letting people decide on their own policies is tyranny.

    For instance, me deciding on the policy of cleaning my front porch with a broom is tyranny. Instead, when the collective decides to clear me from my house as a matter of policy, well, that ain’t tyranny!

    That doesn’t preclude setting up supermajoritarian barriers to changing civil rights policies and such,

    It doesn’t preclude not setting them, either. Or getting around such barriers when expediency dictates it.

    You lack sophistication, Tony – which is a nice way of saying that you’re an ignorant fool.

    1. You lack sophistication, Tony – which is a nice way of saying that you’re an ignorant fool.

      Oh irony.

      1. Re: Neu Mejican,

        Oh irony.

        Thus spoketh the “stable infrastructures” man.

      2. By the way, Neu, before you make another half-hearted attempt at a witty defense of the toddler here, read this:

        Re: Tony,

        But if you want your definitions of right and wrong to apply to other people, it helps to have a common enforcement mechanism.

        So let me understand: 2+2=5 or else I break your arm?

        The mind of the Statist fuck.

        1. before you make another half-hearted attempt at a witty defense of the toddler here

          There was no attempt to defend anyone here. Just chuckling at a kettle calling a pot black.

    2. It doesn’t preclude not setting them, either. Or getting around such barriers when expediency dictates it.

      Yeah, and? Nothing is accomplished at all by appealing to mystical first principles and hoping everyone agrees with you about them. Nobody said democracy was perfect, but nobody is willing to offer a freedom-based alternative either.

      1. Re: Tony,

        Nothing is accomplished at all by appealing to mystical first principles and hoping everyone agrees with you about them.

        You mean I have to assume everybody around me is a savage? Is that what YOU think?

        I don’t know what kind of crowd you surround yourself with, Tony. Maybe I am misjudging as you may have a good cause for your siege mentality.

        1. You mean I have to assume everybody around me is a savage?

          You can probably assume that those around you agree with you on a subset of those things that you consider axiomatic. Whether you call any disagreement at the margins “savage” or not will determine the answer to your question.

        2. People tend to be savage if they’re starving. In your anarcho-topia, everyone is a gentleman despite the rampant starvation, I suppose.

      2. “Nothing is accomplished at all by appealing to mystical first principles and hoping everyone agrees with you about them.”

        I would argue that the discernment for right and wrong is still a worthy and virtuous cause even if its application is rendered ineffective by the beliefs of others. That being said, what you’re conferring makes sense. But that’s kinda why we’re here: collecting our thoughts and trying to convince other people to swing our way if we can.

        All that being said, I’d like to defend those “first principles” as not all derivations of them are “mystical” or quasi-religious. There’s a way to get to them rationally if you do it deductively. (I’ll admit that too few people, libertarians included, take the time to work that out at any point; but they should).

        1. I don’t mean to argue against having first principles or moral stances or that they can’t be arrived at with reason. What I take issue with is the idea that there is a freer alternative to consent of the governed based on a sort of absolute rule of principles–further untrustworthy for the absolutist and harsh nature of those advocated by libertarians.

          It could be said that the idea that people should control their own government is every bit as much of an arbitrary moral axiom. But I prefer to defend it on pragmatic grounds: it tends to maximize human well-being over other forms of government. So at bottom we have human well-being as a good thing, arbitrarily judged so. But it’s hard to put up an argument against that one. I’m sure some here could give it a try.

          1. I can’t say that I’d argue that, given that we must have a government, democracy is not the preferable choice. So you won’t find me arguing with you in that department probably (even though I may not have as much faith in it as you seem to have). However I do have several somewhat radical theoretical conceptions of alternatives that could be employed in its stead; up to and including forms of voluntaryism and/or panarchy perhaps…maybe the latter being less controversial. But that would be a whole other can of worms with respect to this discussion =)

  19. Bernard von Nothaus, the man behind the Liberty Dollar coin, was sentenced today in Federal Court on two counts: trying to do what the government does every day (i.e. counterfeiting) and intending to do what the Fed does every day (i.e. intent to defraud)

    Disclaimer: I did not agree with the idea of the Liberty Dollar as it allowed too much arbitrage between the price of silver and the indicated value, but still, the Feds made him a political prisoner despite the fact his business was entirely voluntary and legal.

    1. I dunno man. That guy, if he wasn’t actually commiting fraud and counterfeiting, was walking a very thin line right up to it.

      Not smart when you are already doing something that you know is going to put you on the shit list.

      And I’ve got no problem using silver for all your transactions. It’s just shady to use the word “dollar” if it’s not actually any kind of dollar. And the markup he was charging, while not wrong in and of itself, sure leads me to believe he was misleading some people, therefore doin some fradulatin’

  20. I really don’t get what point Bartlett is trying to make. He complains that the Tea Party is trying to push impractically deep spending cuts at one point, then complains they’re only making trivial ones at another. He says he was enraged by Bush era fiscal responsibility and that Tea Partiers won’t take on Republican spending, then complains that the Tea Partiers are being divisive for criticizing Republicans like Hatch for being insufficiently fiscally conservative.

    There’s plenty to not like about how Republicans have been conducting themselves, but the only constant in Bartlett’s shifting arguments is a disdain for Tea Partiers. The only thing Bartlett’s arguments demonstrate seems to be that you can make a living concern trolling the GOP.

  21. “He’s a Tea Party fave who is not insane, who doesn’t care about ACORN or think that Obama is a secret anything.”

    Sounds like he’s a Tea Party fave who’s actually a libertarian instead… But I don’t know, how actively did he use the “L word” while campaigning?

  22. Bruce Bartlett is NOT a conservative, it’s obvious.
    TEA Party was responsible for the Nov, 2010 election.
    There will be MORE of the same until the congress is put in place that DOES what they say they will do.
    We need to CUT the spending BIG time (including the illegal $105 Billion recently discovered by Michelle Bachmann) by Mr. O.
    $105 Billion + 61 Billion = $166Billion, unless u use Washington math.
    It’s $5 Billion PER DAY we’re paying on interest! ! ! ! ! ! !

    1. Palin/Bachmann 2014!

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