Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Wild Horse

David Brooks of the New York Times is an interesting columnist.  A self-described moderate conservative, his opinions swing from one end of the political spectrum to the other, driving both conservatives and liberals crazy, depending on the day.  From my perspective, he sometimes drifts off the reservation, but about every third column, he really nails it.  Such is the case in his Monday editorial.  While the liberals and the media carp over the GOP being extremists, racists, out of touch and dying off as a party, Brooks brilliantly points out the bankrupt (literally and figuratively) philosophy of today's Democratic party.
There is a statue outside the Federal Trade Commission of a powerful, rambunctious horse being reined in by an extremely muscular man. This used to be a metaphor for liberalism. The horse was capitalism. The man was government, which was needed sometimes to restrain capitalism’s excesses.  
Today, liberalism seems to have changed. Today, many progressives seem to believe that government is the horse, the source of growth, job creation and prosperity. Capitalism is just a feeding trough that government can use to fuel its expansion. 
For an example of this new worldview, look at the budget produced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus last week. These Democrats try to boost economic growth with a gigantic $2.1 trillion increase in government spending — including a $450 billion public works initiative, a similar-size infrastructure program and $179 billion so states, too, can hire more government workers. 
Today, progressives are calling on government to be the growth engine in all circumstances. In this phase of the recovery, just as the economy is finally beginning to take off, these Democrats want to take an astounding $4.2 trillion out of the private sector and put it into government where they believe it can be used more efficiently.  
How do the House Democrats want to get this money? The top tax rate would shoot up to 49 percent. There’d be new taxes on investment, inheritance, corporate income, financial transactions, banking activity and on and on. 
The progressive budget in the House seems to have been written by people hermetically sealed in the house of government. They work in government. They represent public-sector workers. They seem to have had little contact with private-sector job creators and no idea about what factors might play in their thinking. It’s a reminder that while Republicans may embarrass on a daily basis, many progressives have lost touch with what actually produces growth and prosperity.  
With Senate Democrats refusing to produce a budget since 2009 (nearly four years ago), Republicans included a provision in the January debt ceiling bill that forced the Senate to produce a budget or face a suspension of pay. Facing a threat to their income, Senate Democrats finally obliged. Their proposed budget eliminates the sequester cuts, raises taxes by $1 trillion and never balances the budget.  Today, the House rejected the Senate budget by a vote of 261-154.  The Congressional Progressive Caucus was also rejected 327-84.

Where's the President in all this?  He still hasn't proposed a budget, missing the deadline (February 4) for the third year in a row and for the fourth time in his presidency.

With Republicans disillusioned, stumbling around trying to find their identity, Democrats may think they have the future locked up.  But their innate and intransigent aversion to cutting even a penny of government spending means they will not turn away from the looming iceberg of unrestrained spending, unsustainable entitlements, and soaring debt.   In fact, the Democrats will steam straight for it, all the while claiming the iceberg will melt if the rich would just pay their fair share.

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