Notes on the Fiscal Cliff

It should be simple. Take a minority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats in the house, and make a deal. It would rip apart the Republicans and expose divisions like never before - but I'm sure that doesn't bother the Democrats, and Boehner doesn't have much of a choice.

But something changed.

Boehner tried his "Plan B." It should have gathered a minority of Republicans and majority of Democrats... But he couldn't get the votes.

What that exposes is to things:
1) The speaker is horribly out of touch with his caucus, and
2) Republicans in Congress are more united than they would appear at first glance.

The insanity of this is pretty obvious. The "fiscal cliff" is entirely man-made. Had the Republicans thought more strategically they would have never tied so much to one period of time... It was a self imposed host taking.

Instead they would have split up the "cliff" into a variety of mini-cliffs. Each one could have been a negotiating period where a series of issue by issue reforms would tackled. Tax reform. Entitlements. Defense spending...etc.

When these negotiations started I was convinced that the Republicans would self implode and a deal would get passed before Dec 31.

Now, with this test of confidence in Boehner's leadership, I no longer believe it will happen.

A deal requires two parties that can agree on something. Washington can only agree on a variety of small things... But they don't have a variety of small things on the table - all they have is big things that no one agrees on.

Paul Krugman - Enemy of Reason

Krugman's latest piece in NYT is a whopper:
If you look at the track record, the Obama administration has been wrong about some things, mainly because it was too optimistic about the prospects for a quick recovery. But Republicans have been wrong about everything.
Really? Republicans have been wrong about everything? That's quite the statement to be made by the man who attacked those who criticized those very same rosy "optimistic" projections? I'm confused: was Krugam wrong then or now?
Why did the administration get it wrong? It wasn’t exaggerated faith in the power of its stimulus plan; the report predicted a fairly rapid recovery even without stimulus. Instead, President Obama’s people failed to appreciate something that is now common wisdom among economic analysts: severe financial crises inflict sustained economic damage, and it takes a long time to recover.
So, when Krugman defended these optimistic projections years ago he failed (along with others) to recognize that severe financial crises's "inflict sustained economic damage?" Just what did he think the crisis of 2009 was? A small correction?

The truth is that Krugman failed. The administration didn't just fail "mainly because it was too optimistic," it failed because it shut it's ears to anyone who told them they were wrong. A problem that they have yet to rectify. It's also a problem that Krugman also has to rectify.

So back to the other assertion that Krugman makes - that Republicans have been wrong about everything. A statement that sweeping deserves more than one argument, yet I can only find one in the void of Krugman's column (I honestly thought I heard crickets as I searched for it):

The latest devastating demonstration of that wrongness comes from the International Monetary Fund, which has just released its World Economic Outlook... this analysis concludes is that a disproportionate share of the bad news is coming from countries pursuing the kind of austerity policies Republicans want to impose on America.

O.K., it doesn’t say that in so many words. What the report actually says is: “Activity over the past few years has disappointed more in economies with more aggressive fiscal consolidation plans.” But that amounts to the same thing.

For leading Republicans have very much tied themselves to the view that slashing spending in a depressed economy — “fiscal consolidation,” in I.M.F.-speak — is good, not bad, for job creation.
So, basically, after some calculated inferences from an IMF report about economies facing entirely different problems, on the other end of the planet, in some cases where taxes have been raised on the rich as part of "austerity" he concludes that cutting government budgets to induce job creation is a failure.

For this reason, and this reason alone he is concluding that "Republicans have been wrong about everything."

Firstly, that hardly proves an incapability of entire section of the US electorate from being able to be right about anything. I don't agree with Progressives, but I'm not foolish enough to make a claim that they have been wrong about "everything." But I suppose in the heat of keyboard pressing, words have a way of slipping by you without noticing... I have been guilty of that myself and am willing to give Krugman latitude and conclude he just chose a poor choice of words.

Secondly, ignoring Kruman's wild leap from the IMF report, the failure of austerity to provide results in some parts of the EU is hardly a final statement on the effectiveness of austerity. It is well more than reasonable to argue that job creation in the EU has yet to come as a result of austerity - - it has only been delayed and perhaps less so than without. The history of the US proves that. Clinton (the democrat) cut the size of government in the 1990s and jobs increased. But one only need to look north to my Country Canada for an example of a jurisdiction which has been making cutbacks with significant job growth and an unemployment rate lower than the US. Current reality and history time and time again proves Krugman wrong on this point.

No doubt the Republicans have been wrong about some things, and Obama has been wrong about many things, but clearly Krugman is wrong about by far the most things.

Freedom of Conscience Lost

This is utterly the worst decisions I have seen from Obama in a good long while. Strategically however it's brilliant:
Most healthcare plans will be required to cover birth control ...
...Churches, synagogues and other houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, but religious-affiliated hospitals and universities only get a one-year delay and must comply by Aug. 1, 2013.
“This ruling forces religious organizations to violate the fundamental tenets of their faith, or stop offering health insurance coverage to their employees,” said the Republican Policy Committee. “Time will tell whether those institutions choose the former or the latter course — but neither option should be necessary, if the administration had not taken such an unbending approach to appease its liberal base.”
Contraception is the ultimate wedge that Pro-Choice groups have used for years to divide the Pro-Life movement.

The Obama administration's choice could not have been more clever. Pro-Life supporters who favor contraception should see this for what it is: a cleverly disguised attack on the right to freedom of conscience.

If I decide to do, or decide not to do, particular things that you may or may not agree with based on my own conscience I should be allowed to those things so long as they don't interfere with the rights of someone else. The decision to use contraception or not affects no one's rights. It's a personal decision. There is no right to contraception by any stretch of the imagination.

If we do anything less than respect people's decisions on these particular issues than we might as well eliminate the concept of a "conscience" all together in society. Many died for that right throughout history - the right to believe in what many believe are crazy and ridiculous things that affect no one else.

You don't have to oppose contraception to disagree with this decision. All you have to be is someone that believes that someone's private life is his own business. Libertarians should be shouting down this move first and foremost.

Liberals should be shouting down this measure as it is entirely inconsistent with a state that stays out of the "bedrooms of the nation." It's a horrible abomination of anything any Progressive Democrat or Social Democrat has ever espoused. It's thought control on steroids. It's state control of sexual decisions.

Social Conservatives and People of faith, and even those people of faith with differing beliefs on the issue of contraception, should object to this on MORAL grounds. If we do not allow the free space in society for people to decide whether an act is moral or not we might as well forget about any other belief you may have. So long as the majority disagrees with you, you must shut up. This is entirely inconsistent with the concept of each one of us having an immortal soul whose health depends on the decisions we make in this life. Those decisions require free will which God has given us - only for Obama to take away.

Fiberal Party of Canada RIP

What's come out of the Liberals recent convention?
1) A commitment to allow any tom, dick and harry to vote for the next leader of the party.

2) A Party President vote, hotly contested, with a nail biting internal division revealing 26 vote margin.

3) Unrealistic Potentially fatal Policy votes to legalize marijuana and a centralizing Trudeauesque like push to force provinces to provide access (aka fund) abortions.

The end result is a third party, with a poor base, dwindling membership and now with an open invitation for any special interest group to swoop in and radically take control. Imagine had the old federal PCs passed a similar measure pre-merger - David Orchard's face off with Peter MacKay would have ended quite different.

And a third party divided it certainly is - Sheila Copps has managed to be rejected a second time by her own political home. The first time being when she was forced straight out of politics by the Paul Martin Dictatorship that took hold circa 2005. Her return represented a potential reversal in direction for a Liberal Party dominated by Martin turned Iggy Puff Dons. I would suspect that this will temper Bob Rae's leadership ambitions.

But to make matters worse, the Liberals have still not managed to figure themselves out policy wise. Legalizing Marijuana? Really? Just how do they expect they will do this and maintain an open border with the US? Magic?

Don't get me wrong, I would support the move in an ideal world, but I would also like to win the 649 - neither isn't happening to soon.

And then they lob a gift to Stephen Harper and craft a policy to penalize provinces who refuse to provide funding for abortions. It's like a Conservative fantasy come true.

Harper, dealing currently with an open abortion rebellion in his caucus from pro-life MPs unwilling to wait any longer finds a Liberal Party willing to give him something that will simultaneously unite his caucus in opposition while at the same time drive the banning-abortion issue solidly into the background.

And on top of everything about these policies - did anyone bother to ask if Canadians will care? When the average Canuck is changing his 2 year old's diapers at 3am, will he really care about legalizing pot? As the average Canuck is rushing to work in the morning will he/she give one iota about abortion?

Did anyone in the Liberal Party even think about what Canadians care about right now? I dunno... maybe like the Economy - I'm just throwing out wild ideas here!

Hold on wait here it comes... Another National Daycare Program will be suggested next... What a mess!