Friday, November 25, 2011


If only pigs really could fly

By Wesley Pruden
The congressional super-duper, new-and-improved deficit committee, organized to enable Congress to do what it was sent to Washington to do, failed.
Or, in the spirit of the holiday season, “faileth.” Handel should write an appropriate oratorio. The talk-talk has gone on long enough. It’s the fault of the Republicans, of course. We have the word of dozens of pundits, correspondents and other bearers of “news.” If only the troglodytes would raise taxes, the planets would come together in perfect alignment, all the smooth places would have been made plain and everyone would live happily ever after.

If only. If only there was no profound (insert word “partisan” here) and angry disagreement over how to find a detour from the road to financial oblivion. If only the Democrats would agree to cut the size of government. If only the Republicans would agree that big government is the answer. If only pigs could fly.
Sen. Pat Toomey offered to support new revenues of $500 billion. Exactly who’s being obstructionist?


But they can’t, and neither can the partisan divide be bridged by a pontoon, however well meaning the pontoon men may be. Money is only part of what the debate is fundamentally about. Big government, designed to grow ever bigger with the turning of the seasons, is what the modern Democratic Party is all about. The Democrats are committed to building a bigger trough. The Republicans are committed to dismantling troughs. It’s all in the DNA.

President Obama is not to blame. He is a true believer in the European model of the welfare state. Everybody who was listening learned that three years ago. The fact that the European welfare states are crashing is irrelevant to him; true believers are never rattled by facts, not even facts that slap them in the face like a cream pie. The opportunity to impose a failing welfare state on America is what drew him to the presidency in the first place. The congressional elections last year, the Republican rout that Mr. Obama rightly called a “shellacking” of his party, made no impression, either. The results were all about cutting taxes and dismantling government, but not to Mr. Obama. Those elections were merely a few pebbles in the road to Utopia.

The president, with a con man’s confidence in the sound of his own voice, is, in the observation of the Wall Street Journal, “making it clear that he is running for re-election on a platform of consolidating the expansion of government of his first two years and raising taxes to finance it.” He makes everything clear to anyone listening, threatening to veto any cuts in government spending unless he gets $1 trillion in new taxes. This put a deal on the table that he knew the Republicans had to refuse.

The game continued, with Republicans offering “revenue increases”—in the spirit of the game, we don’t call taxes by their rightful name—far short of what Mr. Obama insisted he must have. When Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania offered to support new revenues of $500 billion, the Democrats said no. It was a trillion dollars or nothing doing. So who’s being obstructionist?

Everyone knows that unless someone does something, everything will be swallowed by one of those black holes from outer space. Health-care costs, which already consume 3.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, will take almost twice that by the year 2020. Democrats are determined not to reform any of that. Who will still be in Washington then? The distance to 2020 might as well be measured in light years. Next year is the short run, where Washington measures all. In the long run, as Winston Churchill famously said, there is no long run.

Mr. Obama, who understands that you can’t survive very long if you betray the people who put you at the public trough, knows very well that the Republicans, many of them beholden to Tea Party voters who sent them to Washington, couldn’t take his deal even if they wanted to, so soon after winning office on an iron-clad, cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die promise of no new taxes. And die they would.

You don’t have to have such a long memory to recall what happened to George Bush the Elder. He lit up the skies above the Republican National Convention in New Orleans with his famous invitation to “Read my lips: no new taxes.” A nice majority of Americans did read his lips, and soon he was no longer the president. Lip-reading is even more popular now.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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