President Obama’s been taking a lot of flak lately for not having a plan. First it was about Libya, but now — even more importantly because, as we know, all politics is local (until it’s not) — about the budget.
The latest White House porte-parole Jay Carney has consequently been taking all kinds of in-coming himself about “where’s the President’s budget plan,” “why doesn’t he have a plan,” etc.
Well, the reason for the latter is simple: because he can’t. The minute the president evinces a budget plan, the game is up. No liberal budget will stand up to scrutiny. There is no money left for deficit spending in our aging society. The welfare state is kaput. It’s gone — probably for generations to come.
Of course, there’s always that canard about taxing the rich. That will save things. But the truth is even if you tax the rich at 100%, it barely sets back our entitlement crisis a year or two, while virtually bankrupting the few job creators who remain.
So no wonder Obama doesn’t have a plan. What would it be?
Rich Miniter put a fine point on it in a recent article for Forbes, “Why the Democratic Party is Doomed.”
The Democratic Party, as we have known it for the past 70 years, is now in its last days.
Yes, the House Republicans may raise the debt ceiling for a mix of spending cuts and revenue raisers. Yes, Barack Obama may win the 2012 presidential contest. Yes, bureaucrats and judges will continue to impose new and costly regulations on the economy.
But it doesn’t matter. The long-term trends are almost all bad news for the left wing of the party.
This week’s fight over raising the federal debt limit exposes a key weakness in the warfare-welfare state that has bestowed power onto the Democratic Party: Without an ever-growing share of the economy, it dies.
Miniter’s right. As an ex-lib, it almost makes me feel sorry for liberals. But I’m not because too many of them are still playing ostrich. One lib friend just sent me an email — I’m still somehow on her list — trumpeting a 1954 (!) quote from Eisenhower: “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”
I guess the implication here is that’s what Republicans are trying to do, when, especially in the case of Social Security, they are the only ones making a serious effort to save it (see Paul Ryan). But liberals must preserve their delusions — and actually not read the small print, in Ryan’s proposal or anybody else’s. After all, they are people with no plans. Why should anybody else have them?
Plans are dangerous because someone might scrutinize them. Someone might point out that Social Security was enacted in 1935, when life expectancy was 61.7 (It is now 77.9 and increasing), and, if it isn’t overhauled, it’s finished. No, you better stay away from these plans. Better to have vague theories and pronouncements. (No, I’m not going to say “hope and change,” but you know I was about to.)
All is not lost, however, in this most unPanglossian world. When you are finally able to shake free of liberal-statist ideas or, as Miniter explains, are forced to abandon them because the state itself is broke (not yet Greece, but close enough), you get a tremendous bonus: the pleasure of self-reliance.
When finally free from the bromides of their ultra-bourgeois ideology, even liberals realize you feel better when you do things for yourself. Most of us know from our own families and friends that the happiest people are those who have made their own way, not those who have had life handed to them, either by inheritance or from the state.
This is not to say that there are not those so handicapped that the state should step in. Of course there are. But a pathology developed throughout the West, as masked Marxist thinking permeated society, that allowed our cultures to be more dominated by the public sector than even Stalin could have dreamed of. After all, he advocated “socialism in one country” (the Soviet Union). Meanwhile, Gramsci almost won. Socialism arrived in the West through the back door of the academy and the arts. The etiology of this development could easily fill a book, and Obama (who Miniter sees as Gorbachev) would be worth a couple of chapters by himself, but it’s time to look on the bright side.
We are at a crossroads from which we can all emerge stronger. There will be many plans proffered, some better than others. But we should always remember this: America was built on freedom, self-reliance and personal generosity. Real caring for others, real progress — collaborative and otherwise — stems from that, not from state decrees, endless bureaucracy and regulation. De Tocqueville knew that way back in the early Nineteenth Century. It’s a lesson we have to relearn again and again. All hard things are like that. They tend to slip away.
But time is on the side of our country and culture again. We are a giant boat finally turning in the right direction. Have patience — we will get there.