Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Does Mitch McConnell want to fix Washington?

His adversaries insist that wily Mitch McConnell’s every move is directed to defeat Obama.  (After all, he said so once.) That may be the view professional campaigners but is not the intent of the Minority Leader of the US Senate.

His ambitions are greater than that: he’s been in and out of Washington politics since 1967 and was Republican Leader of the Senate before Barack Obama was a Presidential contender.

It makes far more sense to conclude from the current fiscal impasse that McConnell won’t compromise with Obama on taxes because he fears that Obama can  win re-election, that the tax raising taboo that, supposedly, destroyed George Bush Senior’s re-election campaign could be broken.

Presumably, McConnell is telling his colleagues that as a fallback letting Obama borrow another $2.5 trillion and giving him the power to do it alone will leave Republicans free to keep attacking Obama as a spendthrift president leading America to bankruptcy.

Substantively, however, by foregoing a deal on entitlements to protect their no-tax-increase mantra, Republicans may pay dearly. Obama will get what he needs from the debt-ceiling confrontation and, at last, will look like a winner, and Republicans will probably have to go into the election defending Paul Ryan’s proposals to effectively dismantle universal public health insurance for seniors.

Let’s assume that McConnell is an intelligent classic American conservative. That breed doesn’t think in terms of undoing what democracy has put together over the last hundred years. It does fear, however, that popular democracy is biased toward ever more federal government spending. A well financed federal government is a government able to do more – something they simply don’t want.

Let’s grant also that McConnell is a patriot who would agree to raise taxes to secure a bi-partisan agreement to get the nation’s debt under control–if he believed it was truly necessary, right now.

The leading conservative economic voice, The Wall St. Journal wholeheartedly agrees with McConnell that there is no emergency just around the corner.  Click on:

Clearly, no matter how many muskets show up at the Republican’s next convention or alarmist the winner’s rhetoric, Mitch McConnell doesn’t see why he should alter his overall fiscal strategy: let Washington trudge along for now with $trillion deficits and a European-size national debt.

Those two problems make it almost impossible for his opponents to spend more on new ideas or to stimulate the economy and, hopefully over time, they will make sure that social entitlements will at least be less generous and leanly administered.  

The atmospherics of today’s “dysfunctional” Washington don’t offend his principles. Carrying on for another ten years of grudging cuts and almost no new programs, whoever is President, would, in his mind, be an accomplishment.

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