Monday, April 15, 2013

There Is No Cunning Plan

Some Republicans seem to be frightened that President Obama is enticing them into a trap with his FY 2014 federal budget, what with his proposed chain-weighted CPI for Social Security inflation adjustments.  They think he is baiting a trap with this teenie-weenie entitlement reform to force them into agreeing to tax increases.

Then there are the House Democrats that seem convinced that the president's chain-weighting proposal is going to lead them into a frightful trap in the 2014 elections.  They fear that the House Republicans have a plan to beat them like a drum on Social Security.

I doubt it.  I don't think the president is that smart on the budget.  I think he is just doing what he has to do.  He has to show something on entitlements, like his Social Security plan.  He also has a bunch of less visible cuts on Medicare.  And what else is he going to do but propose massive tax increases?  After all, the alternative is to take a meat-ax to the entitlements and the crony capitalism and all the programs that dish out lovely grants to liberals.   That would be like running up the white flag.

And House Democrats doubtless think that the sun rises and sets on entitlements.  So they naturally fear that someone, somewhere has a cunning plan to deep six them and their noble constituents that have staked their lives on government benefits.

I lean on the old Hollywood saying about what makes a hit movie.  Nobody knows nothing.  In national politics it's a bit different.  Everyone knows what needs to be done, but nobody dares to move.  Democrats can't ask their supporters to eat entitlement cuts.  Republicans won't ask their supporters to bail out the unsustainable entitlements with tax increases.

The net result is that the officers are standing on the deck in the storm watching the ship of state crash its way onto the rocks.  Nobody dares to order the grumbling crew to do anything, because the officers are afraid of mutiny.

The ruling class is right to be afraid of mutiny.  Nobody said anything about financial mayhem and shipwreck when they promised Social Security and Medicare as a basic human right.  Anyway, all the money that people paid into FICA is locked away in those Trust Funds, right?

Nobody knows how all this will turn out.  No doubt that cunning politicians will find ways of winning and losing elections as we stumble on into the future.  And the cunning politicians on one side will outfox the cunning politicians on the other side.

One thing is for certain.  The folks that put their trust in government are going to find that their trust was misplaced.  It's the old story: women and minorities hardest hit.

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