Friday, September 23

Dolphinomics

Peggy Noonan, WSJ Opinion Journal: "Whatever It Takes: Is Bush's Big Spending A Bridge To Nowhere?"

I'm trying to decide whether I find this stuff more amusing or less these days. Republicans were utterly oblivious as an actual budget surplus--a surplus they insisted should be returned to "the people" when it existed--nosedived into record deficits, free Reagan-era tote bags for military weapons boondoggles, a $300B price tag for no one knew what in Iraq, including missing billions of dollars. Now, all of a sudden, they're deficit hawks again. It's amusing to see how they're trying to deal with the prospect of actually getting splashed while they try to drown the thing in a bathtub when it turns out the thing isn't going to cooperate and just go quietly.

And the pace is quickening. It used to take years between, say, their demanding an end to the Department of Education and the warm-hearted embrace of the No Child Left in Public Schools Act, or between filibustering appointees and demanding an end to the filibuster. The reconversion into anti-big spenders occurred in a matter of days. If this keeps up we'll be able, in short order, to test whether adopting two sides of the same issue simultaneously acts like matter and anti-matter.

On the other hand it's not so amusing to see how Reaganaut delusionalism seems to feed on itself and grow stronger somehow in the process. That's the nature of delusion, but it comes as a shock in the political realm where one expects that in multiple collisions with a brick wall the delusion eventually gives way. Peggy?
Republicans have grown alarmed at federal spending. It has come to a head not only because of Katrina but because of the huge pork-filled highway bill the president signed last month, which comes with its own poster child for bad behavior, the Bridge to Nowhere. The famous bridge in Alaska that costs $223 million and that connects one little place with two penguins and a bear with another little place with two bears and a penguin. The Bridge to Nowhere sounds, to conservative ears, like a metaphor for where endless careless spending leaves you. From the Bridge to the 21st Century to the Bridge to Nowhere: It doesn't feel like progress.

It's a Republican fuckin' bridge, Peg. It's a fucking Republican bill. I'm not saying Democrats weren't complicit, or that we'd have never gotten such a bill if the other side of the aisle was the majority. We would have. Highway bills are whole-hog pork, and this was the largest serving ever, by a herd at least. My god, how long have you been in Washington, and you still think the Republican party keeps kosher? Peggy?
The administration, in answering charges of profligate spending, has taken, interestingly, to slighting old conservative hero Ronald Reagan. This week it was the e-mail of a high White House aide informing us that Ronald Reagan spent tons of money bailing out the banks in the savings-and-loan scandal. This was startling information to Reaganites who remembered it was a fellow named George H.W. Bush who did that. Last month it was the president who blandly seemed to suggest that Reagan cut and ran after the attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon.

Well, didn't he? And I can't answer for anybody's email, but it was St. Ronnie whose "turn loose of the reins and let the lobbyists write the legislation" policies led to that multi-billion dollar bailout. Peggy?
At any rate, Republican officials start diminishing Ronald Reagan, it is a bad sign about where they are psychologically.

Running the risk of seeing something clearly for the first time in twenty-five years? Nah. Let's not go overboard. Peggy?
When forced to spend, Reagan didn't like it, and he said so. He also tried to cut.

He may have said he didn't like it, but he did it anyway. Which speaks louder?

Reagan ran for President for sixteen years, and his one issue was the National Debt. In the early days of his Presidency he had to sign a bill raising the debt ceiling over $1 trillion. He and Don Regan turned it into a big production. Reagan was being "forced" to sign the bill to keep government operating, because of the reckless liberal spending of the past. I don't recall him making a big production of signing any of the further bills covering the $3.8 trillion deficit he left us with. And if Congress had simply rubber-stamped each of the budgets he sent it the amount would have been even greater.

He may have tried to cut programs, but he never cut spending. The heroic man of principle backed down tout suite on Social Security. We gave the military all the $200 hammers and $3000 coffee pots it needed, not to mention carte blanche on pork-laden big-ticket weapons programs. We covered up the resultant fraud and mismanagement with claims we had spent the Soviet Union into bankruptcy. But we knew in the late 70s that the Soviets were about to collapse. All that Star Wars spending was just Welfare Cadillacs for defense contractors and major Republican party donors.

And yeah, Peggy, Bush II is far worse. I guess even a delusional pig can find an acorn every now and then. He just can't describe it accurately.

2 comments:

D. Sidhe said...

Obviously you're missing the point: It is morally reprehensible to blame Saint Ronnie for disasters that he created but that required solving under someone else's watch.
By this same token, Bush 2 may not be the worst president ever: it may be the poor sucker who gets the job after him.

Honestly, I don't know why anybody tries to make sense out of Peggy, except that they keep putting her wacky sandwich board messages in building lobbies and therefore I suppose we have to assume that *someone* thinks they have some merit.

The suggestion that Reagan tried to cut spending is Limbaugh-esque, The Drug Years. Peggy should know to keep her distance.

The thing that keeps me from being amused is the "Let's return the surplus to the people!"
No, wrong. We never had a surplus. What we had was a lot of funding that *should* have been restored to programs that had to be cut to balance the damned budget mess the Reagan/Bush idiots left behind.
But then, what do you expect? These are the very same people who negotiate wage rollbacks with employees, promising to bring them up again as soon as the company is out of trouble, and then once the company is making record profits again forget all about their agreement and just post that money as even more profits.

The "surplus" was an illusion balanced on poor kids and crumbling infrastructure and sick people and a future dependent on oil.

If we'd picked any of those things and taken care of it, even the assholes who got the money back as tax cuts would have been better off.

"Compassionate conservatism" is a lot closer to old style supply side than Peggy is capable of understanding.

heydave said...

This "no, I didn't" kind of crap does not ring true as finally realizing one's point was misread. No, it just means you've been delusional for a very long time, Pegster.