Government Spending

GOP Debt-Limit Deal to Suspend Limit, Obamacare For a Year Isn't Serious. Neither is Obama.

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According to National Review's Jonathan Strong, House Republicans know what they want to get out of a debt-limit showdown. The big takeaway? The House will suspend the debt limit for a year in exchange for a year-long delay of the start of Obamacare, a green light for the Keystone XL Pipeline, and a bunch of other stuff (including means-testing Medicare, blocking net neutrality, and fast-track authority for tax reform legislation).

The whole list. Elsewhere, Strong describes the "kitchen-sink proposal" as getting a "mixed" reaction from House conservatives.

Who can blame them? I totally understand the idea of bargaining, but at the same time, it would be nice for the folks involved to, I don't know, actually discuss the specific issue at hand. Which is the country's debt level.

Is having a national debt that's equal to or slightly greater than the nation's economy a good idea? If it isn't, then what are they doing to address that (as opposed to kicking the can down the road for a year, as if they won't have to raise the limit again giving spending patterns)? President Obama has said that he will not accept any conditions related to a debt-limit increase (hey, he's bargaining too!), so we'll see where any of this goes.

Then there's the spending bill that the feds need to pass. As it happens, back in the spring, the House passed a budget that calls for spending $3.5 trillion in fiscal year 2014. And (for the first time years), the Senate passed a budget that calls for spending $3.7 trillion. If they split the difference, that would keep spending (which is way too high, IMO) at basically the same rate as this year (and the past several years when adjusting for inflation; see chart).

How is it possible that these two august bodies can't immediately cut a handshake deal to spend $3.6 trillion next fiscal year? Are they really that incorrigible?

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  1. If the budget is not lower in absolute dollars than the previous year, they’re spending too much.

    If they debt is not lower in absolute dollars than the previous year, they’re being reckless with it.

    We need to take spending power out of the government’s hands.

    1. How about this: Abolish the IRS, and the government collects its revenue by passing the hat at congresscreatures’ town hall meetings.

      1. I like your ideas, and am interested in subscribing to any newsletters you may publish.

        1. You know, I hear there’s some kind of third party out there that advocates these measures.

        2. *** adds yet another name to the Snark Daily list ***

    2. Dems like to point out that the budget was (almost) balanced under Clinton, and spending went way up under Bush. They are correct on both counts, but if they like Clinton so much, why don’t they reduce spending back to Clinton-era levels? From the chart, it looks like Obama is spending 50 percent more than Clinton ever did, after adjusting for inflation.

  2. Are they really that incorrigible?

    Obviously, yes.

    Wait, we *are* talking about the American voters, right?

    1. You know who else was incorrigible…

      1. The Hindenburg?

        1. No, that would be inflammable, not incorrigible.

          1. Dr. Nik is still confused.

      2. Dame Edna?

  3. Apparently, what we need is a massive call-in, fax-in, and e-mail-in campaign to everyone involved: “No, fuck you, cut spending.”

    It’s really quite simple.

    1. May I add a “fuck off, slaver” for good measure?

  4. The House will go along with suspended the debt limit for a year in exchange for a year-long delay of the start of Obamacare, a green light for the Keystone XL Pipeline, and a bunch of other stuff (including means-testing Medicare, blocking net neutrality, and fast-track authority for tax reform legislation).

    It’s almost like those silly Republicans think compromise goes both ways! What a riot!

    1. Yes, compromise means “reaching across the aisle” to give the Democrats whatever they want.

      1. That is assuming most Republicans don’t also want what the Democrats want.

        1. Somebody (accurately) described the current Republican establishment as “Democrats who think we should be bombing more people.”

      2. Those obstructionist Republicans! Always wanting to negotiate instead of caving in!

  5. “If we do this enough, Obamacare and spending will be someone else’s problem.”

  6. It is not that they are incorrigible. It is that neither side has an interest in making a deal until the last minute. It is the same reason why labor negotiations go until the last minute. Why make a deal now when it will still be available next week and you might get something better if you wait?

  7. rumor is they are going to delay another ACA provision.

    1. I can’t believe they are not going to try and delay the mandate. People hate that thing. And the Dems are going to play hell explaining why they put off the business mandate to provide insurance but won’t also put off the individual mandate to buy insurance.

      1. small business exchange. they won’t touch the mandate.

        this they can spin as “glitches need fixing”

        the mandate is the whole ballgame, from a political perspective anyway. and obama isn’t going to say “i was wrong.”

        1. OF course they can’t agree to that. So make him explain why businesses get a break but ordinary Americans don’t. That is the kind of thing that resonates with people.

          And of course the penaltax is like $100 a year. So the mandate really isn’t a mandate. None of the young people they are relying upon to volunteer to be ass raped by purchasing overpriced insurance to subsidize the old and the sick are going to take the bait. They are all going to pay the penaltax and the rates for those who do buy are going to go through the roof, or more likely, the rates will be controlled and the care will be rationed in ways that will make the UK NHS look efficient and compassionate.

          They have managed to completely fuck up our healthcare system. The only issue now is whether they can somehow avoid the resulting blame.

          1. don’t know if you saw it, but i posted yesterday that two cowoker each reported their docs are going boutique … at about $1600 per person per year. so my friend has to either find a new doc or pay 3200 a year for he and his wife just to get in the door.

            cluster fuck is too mild.

            1. I saw that and responded. I think those sorts of pay a retainer and join what amounts to a medical co-ops are going to be very common as a work around to this cluster fuck.

              1. Don’t worry, once it becomes common it will become illegal. Equal access and all that.

                1. That is what single payer is Matt. It is making it illegal for a doctor to sell you his services.

                  I honestly think that single payer would face some real Constitutional issues. For it to work, you have to tell doctors it is illegal for them to take money from anyone but the government. You also have to outlaw health insurance.

                  1. Well, outlawing not having health insurance passed the constitutional test.

                    I’m half convinced that this is intended to be a disaster so the people will be begging for single-payer to protect them from the greedy insurance companies.

          2. The reason why they can’t delay the individual mandate is because all of the insruance companies have already set up their plans prices for community rating and guarenteed issuance. Delaying the individual mandate without any heads up would mena either insurance death spiral if the insurance companies are still required to do the other two things, or even if they wave the other two, there probably will be a big pause in new insurance issuance as the companies scramble to reprice things.

            1. But the penaltax isn’t high enough to make it rational for the young and the healthy to buy the overpriced insurance. Mandate or no, the whole thing is going to collapse very quickly.

              1. that too, but i actually think it’s Medicaid that’s going to swamp it.

                woodwork effect: people currently eligible but not enrolled will swamp the states. and they will not be covered at the favorable ACA 90% match that they have been promoting. and we have no idea how many “eligible but not enrolled” there are. budget nightmare for states. but you roll out a huge PR campaign for enrollment and all bets are off.

                1. this is part of the whole equation few people talk about. A lot of the uninsured are already eligable for medicaid or S-Chip. It’s just out of ignorance of the programs, laziness, or just havent found a need for healthcare yet that people arent signed up.

                  But once the mandate is in place, do the medicaid rolls get swamped even in the existing program?

                  And in states that opted out of the expansion, there is going to be thei wierd donut hole where you are not poor enough for medicaid but make too little to qualify for the subsidies in the exchange. What happens to these people?

                  1. unless i’m mistaken, they either buy insurance without the subsidy or pay the tax.

                  2. unless i’m mistaken, they either buy insurance without the subsidy or pay the tax.

              2. but the penaltax is high enough to make the difference for a lot of people. Remember, economic decisions are made on the margin. It’s not a question of whether the premiums are higher than the penaltax (unless you gain zero utility from having insurance), it’s whether the gap between the higher premium and the lower penaltax is smaller than the benifit you get out of having insurance.

                So if insurance used to cost you $250 a month, but you only valued it at $150 so you didn’t buy. But now you are going to be penaltaxed at $200 or buy at $250, the marginal cost to you is now $50. And this is lower than the $150 you value the insurance at, so you buy it.

                The penaltax has effetively made the marginal cost of aquiring insurance fall. Only those who realy dont value the insurace much at all (which will be some people), or are doing so out of protest, are doing to opt for the penaltax over buying the insurance.

                Plus, some people just follow the law for laws own sake or are dumb don;t knwo what’s happening and just sign on the dotted line.

                1. This last thing was in response to John.

                2. You have correctly described how a competent economic actor would evaluate the choice.

                  The degree to which ordinary Americans are competent economic actors is, well, less than 100%.

                  As illustrated by the fact that large percentages of the Medicaid eligible don’t even sign up for FREE coverage.

                  1. Well i don’t expect really anyone to go calculate this kind of thing out exactly, roughly speaking most people will tend this way. You will have people thinking oh well if I have to pay the penaltax for not having insurance i mind as well cough up another $50 and get insurance. It’s still a marginal calculation.

                    Plus like I said, once a lot of people start hearing “oh im required by law to get insurance?” they start thinking “I better go sign up”

                    1. #

                      Whatever effect the penaltax has on the incentive to buy insurance is easily outweighed by the disincentive created by community rating and banning no frills plans.

                      The people they need to buy into the exchanges are not going to do so.

                  2. RC,

                    Also part of the reason why people don’t sign up for medicaid is that the unisured skew young and they just never have really needed any healthcare. Once they land in a hospital though, they will be signed up there.

                  3. The degree to which ordinary Americans are competent economic actors is, well, less than 100%.

                    No. That is complete bullshit RC and you should know better. They are perfectly rational. They just put a different value on things than you do. “Lazy” is just way of saying someone values their time more than they do money. People don’t sign up for those programs because they view the effort to do so as greater than the reward for doing so.

                    That may be short sighted or even foolish. But it is not irrational.

                3. The penaltax has effetively made the marginal cost of aquiring insurance fall.

                  But you do need to remember other parts of the law have also made the value of the insurance fall, since you can’t be denied for a preexisting condition.

                  1. How has the decreased the value of the insurace to an individual?

                    1. Because prior to that law part of the value of having it *now* is that you are covered if you develop a condition, whereas if you get insurance later, you won’t be covered for it. With the law, you can get the coverage after developing the condition, but still have the value of being covered for it.

          3. So the mandate really isn’t a mandate,

            I knew you were a lawyer, but I didn’t realize you were a Chief Justice.

            1. It is. But it is not going to function like one because most people are not going to do the action mandated.

              1. Well, it certainly is a horribly implemented mandate. But it was done by government, why wouldn’t you expect it to be horribly implemented?

    2. Michelle Malkin is who she is, but this is still pretty telling:

      http://townhall.com/columnists…..d-n1708856

      1. Millions of people are going to get the same notice. Even if you are lucky enough to have a job that provides your insurance, chances are the plan you had won’t meet the regs. Most people who didn’t have special needs kids or some chronic illness, chose cheaper no frills health plans. Those are now illegal. Everyone will have to move up to more expensive plans that pay for shit they don’t need.

        Maybe they won’t care or think single payer is the answer or hate Republicans or something. But, there are going to be tens of millions of middle class voters who are going to lose the health plans they were largely happy with and see it replaced by something worse and more expensive.

        Never before have the Progs tried to overtly make the middle class’ lives worse. They have always either paid off the middle class or hid the cost of their programs from the middle class. The fallout from this should be very interesting.

        1. Of course, if that happens, the statists’ response will be to blame the insurance companies.

          I work at a public university and I KNOW most of my fellow academics thought ACA was a great idea. But, if we lose our plan, or the prices go up, they are going to blames “the market” and scream for single payer.

          1. That is what they will try to do. But the problem is that people will have already had the experience of having insurance they were happy with. For that argument to work, people are going to have to believe that the insurance companies just one day decided to fuck everyone. Sure, your typical low sloping forehead prog is going to buy that and blame the racist insurance companies for wrecking their wonderful plan. But I would be surprised if the typical middle class American will think that. They are going to blame the law and its supporters.

    3. ACA? I don’t think “Affordable” means what they think it means.

  8. No, fuck you, cut spending.

    That is all.

    1. T-shirts; we need T-shirts with this message.

      1. “FU CUT SPENDING”

        1. That would work.

        2. Dude, I want that bumper sticker.

  9. Psh! As if either party actually wants to cut spending.

  10. So the GOP is wrong for trying to kill OC and wrong for trying to negotiate the debt limit? Getting the impression they can’t win. I actually think getting a whole of goodies that will piss off the Dem base is a good idea. The American public likes delaying the ACA, might not like shutting down government (OMG SCARY), and the Dem base gets demoralized. Greens get sold out.

    1. Dude, haven’t you heard? The GOP is racist, therefore everything they do is wrong. If they supported womens rights, that’d be wrong too. Well, mostly because they support rights of people over government, but that’s besides the point.

  11. The Democratic Underground viewpoint on this matter.

    They are ordered by the Constitution and the people of the United States to follow the law.

    The only condition is to raise the ceiling or turn in their resignations to John Boehner for failing to follow the Constitution and turn themselves in for treason.

    These Republicans are domestic terrorists and should be treated as such.

    1. These Republicans are domestic terrorists and should be treated as such.

      I fucking pray for the day the masses of unarmed hippies turn on the country. Hopefully the’ll secede; good riddance.

      1. Yes, let’s label our political opponents “enemies of the state”. Let’s beat the rush by avoiding a slow slide into fascism. Just jump in head first!

      2. ^^ That would be a great day…hordes of statists leaving, or finding areas to secede.

        1. Is it bad that I sometimes have a fantacy of a giant earthquake causing LA and San Fran to float off into the ocean?

    2. Hmm, I could make a whole lot of salient comments, but, does it really serve to engage with DU?

      1. Probably about as much sense as engaging with shriek or Tony, well maybe not Tony, but definitely Mary.

    3. Well, the DUmmies have to compete with Freepers in the Annual Dumbass Awards.

    4. Follow the law. You mean like the one that requires the Senate to pass a budget every year?

      1. Since when did the government have to follow the law? It’s not like anyone can make them.

        1. Apparently DU thinks it should, at least when it comes to the evil rethuglicans.

      2. Isn’t the current law that the government can’t deficit spend past the ceiling?

    5. So this progtard is actually saying that raising the debt ceiling on command is required by the Constitution?

      That’s what I call “impenetrable stupidity”, which there is no point in trying to engage with.

      1. That is how I read his argument, yes.

    6. So if Law A says spend X dollars, even if you have to borrow Y + 1 billion dollars, and Law B says you can’t borrow over Y dollars, Republicans are traitors if they refuse to modify Law B?

  12. Who can blame them? I totally understand the idea of bargaining, but at the same time, it would be nice for the folks involved to, I don’t know, actually discuss the specific issue at hand. Which is the country’s debt level.

    Yes, but the appropriate place to have that discussion is when they’re debating the bills that authorize the spending to begin with, not when the debt resulting from that authorization comes do.

    The only reason we’re going over the debt ceiling in October will be because of spending authorized in a Continuing Resolution the House Republicans passed unanimously just last week. If the debt ceiling bothers them so much, why didn’t they cut back what they authorized in that continuing resolution?

    1. They would say that any serious effort to reduce spending would have been dead on arrival in the Senate.

      And while I’m hardly defending them, they’re probably right about that.

      1. I don’t see how cuts in the continuing resolution would be any more DOA than cuts during the debt ceiling fight. If they’re weren’t willing or able to fight for those cuts last week, why will they be any more willing or able to fight for them in three weeks?

        1. It’s a question of leverage. If you look at the polling, the public is generally opposed to a government shutdown, but also generally opposed to raising the debt ceiling.

          In other words, when budget fights are in the context of, “Should we fund government?” fiscal hawks have a weaker hand than they do if budget fights are in the context of, “Should we increase the debt ceiling?”

          But I want to address something else you said, above:

          Yes, but the appropriate place to have that discussion is when they’re debating the bills that authorize the spending to begin with, not when the debt resulting from that authorization comes do.

          No. Wrong. Given the magnitude of the problem, the appropriate place to have that discussion is always and everywhere.

  13. This is why the Republicans by and large don’t concern themselves with the libertarian vote, and why libertarians make themselves irrelevant — as voters, they send inconsistent signals and insist on what they know cannot be done politically so that they can feel above politics and operate in the world of Platonic ideal forms instead of the real world. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are achieving success *despite* these folks, and as usual the True Libertarian Contingent is throwing shit at them from the monkey cages.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t — and of course, libertarians will whine about having been excluded from the process and never having their ideas implemented despite the fact that no one knows what those ideas are in their moderated (i.e., politically viable) forms.

    1. Cruz and Paul are concentrating on doing something Libertarians are generally horrible at doing, giving voice to the millions of Americans who want government off their back.

      You would think Libertarians would be great at that. But they are horrible because they are too in love with fighting with the Left on the culture war and too busy pointing out how everyone but them is not true Scotsman.

      1. It should surprise me that libertarians have more or less isolated themselves from the two largest mass movements for liberty in recent years — but it really doesn’t.

        It would mean risking the chance that they might actually be successful, and that would mean they would have to compromise, form coalitions, and (horrors!) receive votes from normal, low-interest low-info voters who don’t really care about political philosophy.

        1. The bitching and moaning about how the SOCONS alledgly co-opted the Tea Party was especially rich. First, I don’t think that is true. Second, even if it is, whose fault is that? If the SOCONS co-opted the Tea Party movement maybe the Libertarians should have gotten off of their asses and tried to co-opt it themselves rather than sitting around telling each other Sarah Palin jokes and laughing at all the uncool people trying to form a political movement.

          1. This.

          2. I think everyone tried to co-opt the Tea Party. Judging from the caucus results in Iowa in 2012, the Ron Paul libertarian types did about as well as the so cons and Santorum. And then they split the limited government vote so Romney could run against a Romney clone in the general election.

        2. The problem with compromise is that it always means more government.

          If compromise meant repealing legislation or regulation, or cutting a government department or program, then yeah libertarians would be on board. But it never does.

          Compromise means vote for this monstrosity and we’ll let you make it bigger.

          1. No, it doesn’t. How do you think European governments got smaller in the late 19th century, magic?

            1. We’re not in 19th century Europe.

              1. You’re a smart guy — do you think people have fundamentally changed since the 19th century? Do you think that social democrats would have had a chance at their current dominance if they’d forced all-or-nothing politics of the sort that their more radical brethren were likely to do?

                Politics involves compromise. Some of those compromises involve taking away liberty (those should be rejected), others expand it (much of the legislation in 19th century Europe can be explained this way). Stop being so fatalistic.

                1. I think that, as someone else put it, American culture has rejected liberty in favor of equality. Thus political compromises in the current political environment will also reject liberty in favor of equality. Yes, I am fatalistic. We’re fucked. That’s all there is to it.

                  1. I think (hope?) you’re wrong about that. There was no great debate that social democrats won to make people change their minds; very few Americans willingly lower their standard of living in exchange for more equality. Social democrats took advantage of political opportunities and implemented their program incrementally. Libertarians can do the same, or should at least give it a good try before giving up.

                    1. We want to allow people to live their lives without asking permission and taking orders as long as they don’t harm the life, liberty or property of another person.

                      To implement this we must to undo, not do. We must to put government workers out of work. We must put regulators out of work. We must put prison guards out of work. We must end entitlement and subsidies. We must change the nature of the military from world cop to national defense. That means putting contractors out of work.

                      Too many people would be affected adversely by libertarian policy. We’re done before we begin.

                  2. No, we’re not doomed. Eventually (and it keeps getting closer) the FedGov will spend itself into oblivion, and government will fall back to the states. Those states that limit government regulation and taxes and spending and borrowing will attract productive workers and companies and prosper.

                    1. Those states that limit government regulation and taxes and spending and borrowing…

                      In what fantasy world do such states exist?

            2. Sarcasmic is right, at least as it applies to modern American politics. The vast majority of the time, compromise means “Expanding the government slightly less than the people proposing the expansion would ideally want, but still expanding it”

    2. If it wasn’t for libertarians (small “l” not big), Rand Paul would still be ophthalmologist in Kentucky best known for being the son of an unusual congressman and presidential candidate. You and John in particular have a habit of lecturing libertarians, without actually calling out anyone in particular or giving specific details on what exactly you think libertarians can/should do that would satisfy you.

      1. Bullshit. If it wasn’t for the voters of Kenntucky, Rand Paul wouldn’t be anywhere. And to the extent that he is where he is, it is because he is not a typical L douche bag and figured out how to appeal to a broad range of people that most libertarians find too distasteful to bother trying to win their support.

        1. he is not a typical L douche bag and figured out how to appeal to a broad range of people that most libertarians find too distasteful to bother trying to win their support.

          I’m not sure what that means. Are you calling me a douche bag because I see no point in trying to win the support of people who want government to control every aspect of our lives? Because as a libertarian I believe that government is supposed to protect liberty, not squash it. How and why would libertarians try to win over people who want the government to control everything? You’re not making sense.

          1. Rand Paul got in the Senate thanks to the support of those very people. So, don’t hold him up as an example when he is an example of the opposite of what I am talking about.

            If you don’t feel that most people are worthy of supporting you, that is your right. But don’t bitch and moan about never winning anything because you are specifically choosing to lose.

            1. What do you mean by “worthy?” Why are you inserting a value judgement in here? If you insist on using that word, then use it right and say they wouldn’t consider me as a libertarian “worthy” of their support because I would want to dismantle much of the government that they support. You’re really spinning here, John. I’m getting dizzy trying to follow.

            2. Rand Paul got a lot of early support (financial and volunteer) from libertarians nationally, not just from conservatives in Kentucky.

        2. “Bullshit. If it wasn’t for the voters of Kenntucky, Rand Paul wouldn’t be anywhere.”

          Well no shit, Sherlock. Who do you think were pushing the draft Rand Paul campaign? Who was donating to the money bombs than funded his campaign? Who were people on the ground in his campaign? Sure, there were a lot of conservatives in that group, but a lot of those people were libertarians. You don’t think the fact that Rand Paul is the son of Ron Paul had anything to do with the support he got in his primary campaign especially?

          “it is because he is not a typical L douche bag and figured out how to appeal to a broad range of people that most libertarians find too distasteful to bother trying to win their support.”

          What is your impression of “most libertarians”? Dave Weigel? Ron Paul is the most popular libertarian politician in recent history, and he is this guy’s father last time I checked. Say what you want about either Paul, but neither one is a elitist cosmotarian douchebag. Who exactly is the “typical L douche?” you’re referring to? LPers? Most libertarians don’t vote for LP candidates. If they did, they’d get more than one percent of the vote. The biggest reason why they lose is the same reason why every other third party candidate loses.

          1. Who exactly is the “typical L douche?” you’re referring to?

            Us. He’s saying we’re douche bags because we stand on principle instead of giving them up to be popular. He’s also saying that the reason we stand on principle is because we look down upon people who do not share our principles.

            Red Tony is shouting ad hominems at a straw man.

            1. I fought the 3PM squirrels and won!

            2. I fought the 3PM squirrels and won!

              1. Only to be foiled by the 3:05PM squirrels.

            3. I’ll readily admit that I look down on people who do not share my principles. Because they are willing to use force to make me follow their principles.

              1. Because they are willing to use force to make me follow their principles.

                I try to persuade them first because many don’t understand. I mean, a basic understanding of economics, like Economics in One Lesson, can turn many people into pseudo-libertarians.

                But yeah. The ones who knowingly, intentionally, and dishonestly use force are worthy of contempt.

                1. All libertarians exemplify the concept that a little education can be worse than none at all.

          2. I don’t think that most libertarians are cosmo douchebags; I think most libertarians either a) have no idea what is and is not politically achievable and oscillate between jubilation at the inevitable libertarian triumph or fatalistic depression that American will never emerge from tyranny, or b) do have a pretty good idea of what is achievable and choose to thumb their nose at anything that is politically viable as evidence of having worked with an unfathomably corrupt system, even if that thing is in fact liberty-enhancing (e.g., medical MJ or even MJ legalization).

            This is of course most obvious with the two Pauls: their rep in the libertarian community is directly proportional to how little they’ve accomplished. The things libertarians like about Rand Paul are areas where his position is not possible to implement; the things they don’t like and at best tolerate are areas where he is willing to supply a moderated version of a libertarian idea that might actually be viable. Dr. Paul is practically an object of worship among some libertarians, mostly on account of things which have rendered him completely irrelevant.

            1. For being “completely irrelevant”, Ron Paul sure seems to have made a mark on the national consciousness, and started a movement back toward liberty, one that is even now being embraced and implemented by more practical politicians, his son included.

              If Ron Paul had never stood on principle so stubbornly, hardly anyone would know who he is, and the vanguard of his political proteges would be working anonymously in the private sector.

              1. Lots of people know who Milton Friedman is, and I would say that he’s been much more influential in policymaking during the 90s and the liberalization of Southern economies (to use two concrete examples) than Ron Paul has been in any context. I would not call Friedman unprincipled, but in addition to principle he had a way of making his articulated principles into something with reasonable potential for implementation.

                This is of course something for which he is strongly disliked in some libertarian circles.

            2. I agree that Ron Paul has certain views and characteristics that have limited his political viability. At the same time, I think someone like him was needed to introduce libertarianism into mainstream American political thought. I think he has definitely laid the groundwork for Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and other libertarian(ish) Republican politicians

              1. I think someone like him was needed to introduce libertarianism into mainstream American political thought.

                Disagree. If anyone has done the yeoman’s work of bringing libertarianism to the political fore, it has been Milton Friedman and people in his school of thought (Thomas Sowell, perhaps James Buchanan and some of the other prizewinners). Beyond personalities, I think that events and current politics of both conservatism and progressivism have done more to move people towards libertarianism than any one person.

                Ron Paul has been a beneficiary more than a motivator of the popularization of libertarianism; while he’s sincere and honest as a person (and I think that attracts some folks), he isn’t very good at explaining the ideology, implementing it/proving its viability, or running the organizations he’s set up to expound on the libertarian philosophy in an effective manner.

                1. “Disagree. If anyone has done the yeoman’s work of bringing libertarianism to the political fore, it has been Milton Friedman and people in his school of thought (Thomas Sowell, perhaps James Buchanan and some of the other prizewinners).”

                  I don’t even see how this is even debatable. Most people either don’t know who Friedman, Sowell, etc. are or have only a very passing knowledge of them. I say this as someone who came to libertarianism far more by reading people like Sowell, Walter Williams, the Austrians, Stossel, etc. than from listening to Ron Paul. It’d be great if people usually came to political positions through rigorous intellectual exercise; generally speaking, they don’t.

                  “Beyond personalities, I think that events and current politics of both conservatism and progressivism have done more to move people towards libertarianism than any one person.”

                  I’d actually agree with that. Conservative hypocrisy during the Bush years, and years of terrible governing by both parties, combined with a recession and financial crisis, definitely made libertarianism more appealing than in times past. However, to turn that into a political force, I think there needed to be someone ready to capture and direct it. Ron Paul was really the only libertarian, and arguably the only libertarian-leaning, person in Congress at that time.

                2. I think Paul has plenty of flaws, but his honesty and straight talk definitely appealed to a lot of these people tired of the binary two party system where it often is difficult to distinguish Democrat from Republican. Talking about people like the Austrians and Bastiat gave them an entry to libertarian thought. Having a libertarian on stage in presidential debates definitely raised the profile of the movement, I don’t see how you can disagree with that. Ron Paul’s supporters contributed heavily, and were arguably indispensable, in getting people like Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie elected to Congress. In Rand Paul’s case especially, I don’t know how you can seriously think the guy would be in the US Senate and one of its most prominent members, if he wasn’t Ron Paul’s son.

    3. What? Just making the debt limit infinity until after the midterms is okay? But they totally will pick a number after that, right?

      1. I’m hardly defending this strategy. My preference was for what Ted Cruz was trying to do — which is to say, a strategy that was bitched at by Reason’s writers as it was ongoing, all the while they supported politically impossible fantasies in lieu of it (dismantling entitlements? Get real).

        When the only things libertarians are offering as “solutions” are politically impossible and they bitch at anyone trying to make things marginally better, they are only facilitating the very trends that they claim to hate, since nothing in politics is corrected quickly or efficiently.

    4. I don’t hear many libertarians criticizing Rand Paul for proposing plans to gradually balance the budget in 4 or 6 or 8 years. He’s working within the system, flawed as it is.

      Ted Cruz is no libertarian, so he’s fair game of course.

      1. I don’t hear many libertarians criticizing Rand Paul for proposing plans to gradually balance the budget in 4 or 6 or 8 years.

        It would depend on your definition of “many”, but I’ve seen plenty of criticism of Rand on LRC and it is the most popular libertarian blog, IIRC.

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