Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Think Like a Democratic Voter

If you are a Republican or and independent voter, the current fiscal cliff negotiation seems like a exercise in futility.  We solid citizens understand that a deal must be done on entitlements--principally Medicare--and that "something must be done" about runaway spending.

So we say, like the Wall Street Journal edit page, that the "budget talks are drifting in a drearily familiar Washington direction: Tax and spending increases now, in return for the promise of spending cuts and tax and entitlement reform later."

Some conservatives think that this amounts to a monstrous betrayal by Speaker Boehner (R-OH), but I think that we are asking too much of the Speaker and his Republican colleagues.  They are trying to move the Democrats, and the Democrats know something that we ordinary middle-class folks don't know.  To understand where the Democrats are coming from you have to think like an ordinary Democratic voter.

The average Democratic voter reckons "we are owed."  I got into trouble with an African-American acquaintance over this.  Never heard anyone say that, he said.  Yeah, so those chaps muttering about reparations are just talking about nothing.

But really, that's what the average Democrat keeps getting told.  You are owed.  That's what egalitarianism and redistribution means, if it means anything.

You can tell, from the outrage of the public employees of Wisconsin last year and the outrage of the unions in Michigan this year that the average rank and file Democrat never thinks about where the money comes from.  They are just owed.  Rush Limbaugh had a running joke for months after the 2009 stimulus, riffing off an interview of African Americans lining up for some free stuff.  Where does the money come from, a reporter asked?  Obama's stash, came the answer.

Which confirms my argument that government is nothing more than a looting expedition.  That's what a stash is: a place to hide the proceeds of piracy and plunder.

Think of the average Democrat voter.  She or he lives off the government teat.  She has a government job, most likely, and is plugged into various liberal government scams from health care to housing.  Now the point to remember, which we ordinary middle-class folks don't get, is that a voter like that has all her eggs in one basket.  Suppose she is a teacher, a nurse's aide, a social worker.  What in the world will she do when the government has to cut spending by a trillion a year?  It is unthinkable.

Then there are the Social Security and Medicare recipients like me.  Better not touch our benefits: we earned them: We are owed!

So which Democratic politician is going to be the one that addresses the Democratic faithful in some high-school gym and says: sorry about all that, but there is no more money?

Now the irreducible truth about the first four years of the Obama administration is that the federal government was spending about $1 trillion more each year than it was collecting in taxes.  Thinking in terms of my looting metaphor, Obama was distributing $1 trillion more in benefits to his supporters from his "stash" that he was collecting in his predations upon the private economy.

And that's how he got reelected.  There could be more money available in his stash if only the rich would give a little more.

And don't forget, we are talking about people that have put all their eggs in the government basket.  If you are a private sector person you have probably moved around a bit from job to job: you understand your skills and your marketability.  But a woman with a government job would probably have to take a massive pay cut if she had to get a job in the private sector.  If you have retired you have Social Security plus your 401k plus your savings.  But the government worker has only her government pension.

If you are a Final Glide American you have carefully organized your life to land on the government aircraft carrier secure in the knowledge that you are owed.  It is unthinkable that your benefits could ever be cut.  After all, you are living on a fixed income.  You have nowhere else to turn.

When the money runs out and the government can no longer spend more than it collects in taxes, then there will be an almighty fight over the remaining spoils.  It might be a good idea for the prudent if they can afford to walk away from their government benefits.  If only to avoid stray bullets.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure that it matters what deal Speaker Boehner cooks up.  It will all end in tears, anyway, because the Democrats cannot afford to tell the truth to their supporters.

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