Roger’s Rules

“Calling their bluff,” an excursus in which I pay homage to the President’s rhetorical legerdemain

Yesterday in Roger’s Rules, I quoted Barack Hussein Obama’s recent  — what to call it? His observation? His promise? His threat? — that

“ . . . next year when I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country, I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt step-up because I’m calling their bluff.”

Thomas Sowell was quite right to point out that Obama’s gambit was merely  prelude to the next installment of the shock-and-awe statism show, coming to a bankruptcy near you.  Whenever Democrats start talking about deficits — deficits, nota bene, that they created with their incontinent spending — you know that it is only a bit of throat clearing before they move on to their favorite subject: taking more of your money.  As Mr. Sowell notes,

It goes like this: Democrats start spending money wildly, handing out goodies to a wide range of people who they want to vote for them, while Republicans complain about deficits and the national debt. Then, when the public becomes alarmed about the debts that are piling up, the Democrats get the Republicans to vote for higher taxes to deal with the debt crisis, in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”

It’s a mug’s game, to be sure, but it has worked again and again, so stay tuned, and hold on to your wallet.

One thing I did not mention yesterday is how suave the President was in his talk of deficits and “calling their bluff.” Really, I am all admiration for his sleight of hand.  His skill in this department was brought home to me by a canny reader who wrote to observe that

“. . . we fall into this trap because we keep talking about deficits, not spending.  It is the absolute level of spending and what we are spending on that must be addressed. Then it comes down to, how do we pay for the spending?   . . .  The debate should be re-directed to spending levels; talking first about deficits is the initial first step down that proverbial slippery slope of higher taxes and slower economic growth.”

Exactly. Which is why the financial commentator  Rick Santelli — the man who gave the tea party its name — is once again spot on when, with his usual vividness, he exhorted the government to “stop spending, stop spending, stop spending.”

That’s the problem we need to address.  Bottom line: do not let Democratic politicians seduce you into talking about deficits. That is only their way of saying: “We need new taxes.”  No, keep the conversation focused on spending. They will say: “Aren’t you worried about the deficit?  You said you were worried about the deficit. No let’s do something about it. Vote to raise taxes.”  Not so fast, pardner! Sure, we’re worried about the deficit.  But the way to get the deficit under control is to cut spending.

Cut spending, cut taxes, and you promote growth.  Got it? Paul Krugman is too brilliant to understand that.  But Milton Friedman wasn’t.  And neither, my friend, are you.