Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The fallout from the debt ceiling deal: Nobody's happy. The GOP stared down the Dems and Obama's liberal base is hopping mad that they didn't get tax increases. The Dems have gotten what they wanted through this game of chicken in the past, but it didn't happen this time, even if the GOP didn't get all it wanted either. But it made a difference in the long game, and a lot of Tea Partiers are furious, which is good for next year, but they should have recognized that last year's victories were only a start and they have to stay engaged and angry to take the Senate and the White House.

The good news is how ineffectual Obama was and has been for the past 6 months. He was practically irrelevant to this negotiation despite his frequent scolding of the parties. He never offered his own proposal, because he knew that being practical and offering concessions would only make his supporters mad, but doing nothing wasn't going to appease them. So he let others work out the partial surrender and then pretended it was a good deal.

Professor John B. Taylor pronounces the deal a good start for the spending hawks. Without being overly sanguine, he demonstrates how it could have been worse had the GOP backed off too soon. Thus the rusty gears of government lurch onward.

Still, they didn't really tackle entitlement reform. Nobody wants to alienate us geezers. I'm not stupid or naive enough to figure that the country owes me a living for the FICA taxes I've paid. But I don't think it's too much to ask for responsible government without rewarding the unproductive.

I believe in helping the poor and helpless, but not making it a legal obligation or making it too easy to help oneself to the earnings of others. That's why the government shouldn't be used to transfer wealth. If Bill Gates and Warren Buffet think their taxes aren't high enough, they have the right to exempt themselves from the tax exemptions, deductions and credits they're entitled to. They also have the right to advocate higher taxes, but frankly, I'd prefer that they kept and invested their own wealth, because the government squanders it and mismanages its revenues shamefully.

If I were a philanthropist, I wouldn't hire the government to help the poor. I consider myself one, because I've never really insisted on the market value of my services and it has cost me a lot of pain. Bill Gates spent $5 billion to improve education and got precious little for it, because it got frittered away on bureaucracy, unions and incompetents.

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