A Republican Defeat?

Thursday, October 17, AD 2013



From a conservative Republican perspective there seems to be little good from the outcome of the shutdown fight.  ObamaCare remains funded, and that was the chief goal that concerned most conservative Republicans.  However, sometimes it is a good idea to take a look at an event from the eyes of an adversary.  Here is what things look like to liberal Peter Beinart at The Daily Beast:






Most of the press is missing this because most of the press is covering the current standoff more as politics than policy. If your basic question is “which party is winning?” then it’s easy to see the Republicans as losing, since they’re the ones suffering in the polls. But the partisan balance of power and the ideological balance of power are two completely different things. The Nixon years were terrible for the Democratic Party but quite good for progressive domestic policy. The Clinton years were, in important ways, the reverse. The promise of the Obama presidency was not merely that he’d bring Democrats back to power. It was that he’d usher in the first era of truly progressive public policy in decades. But the survival of Obamacare notwithstanding, Obama’s impending “victory” in the current standoff moves us further away from, not closer to, that goal.


Continue reading...

9 Responses to A Republican Defeat?

  • I think it was Jonah Goldberg who pointed out in a GLoP culture podcast that it seems like every time Obama gets what he wants, it blows up in his face… so maybe what we should be doing is stop fighting him so much.

    Of course, this would all be a lot easier if we could get back to federalism. (that is, let each state be as progressive or conservative as they want, and let everyone move to the state most befitting them)

    And if you’re a leftist about to protest on how this needs to be applied across all states, congrats, that just made you the modern day puritan.

  • The entire “shutdown” was a Democrat stunt. The lapdog Democrat media always blames the doltish Republicans for these shutdowns and gutless Republicans trash real conservatives who want to stand for shrinking government.

    McConnell needs to be primaried out of his job. So does Gramnesty. The dead Strom Thurmond would do a better job in the Senate now than Gramnesty does.

    Going into his sixth year in office – it is only two months away – the Obumbler Tyranny has never passed a budget. Hannity, whom I do not care for, played a radio clip Wednesday afternoon and there were several low information voters – oh, hell, let’s call them dimwits because that is what they are – and they blamed Bush for the current problems. For laughs, I invite everyone to check out the Letters to the Editor of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. The levels of stupidity are amazing. I don’t know how some of those people ever figured out how to operate a doorknob.

    I want Obumblercare to blow up in the faces of the Commucrat Party. I want it to stain every Commucrat and every other lemming whoever supported it and that goes for Carol Keenan.

  • Voters vote by their pocket.
    Politicians offer bribes – financial benefit bribes – lower taxes, better social security payments, free this, free that.
    So when the useful idiots realise they are being creamed of their hard earned wages, and for no increased benefit but in many cases reductions, the impact at the ballot box will be significant.

  • Don, your point is a good one, but…..
    there are people in this nation who will never pull a voting lever for anything but a Commucrat, such as 95% of blacks even those who are married with good jobs, homes and kids. Auto workers – Commucrats, even as the Commucrats seek to destroy the auto industry with ridiculous gas mileage requirements. Unionized government workers – they exist to elect Commucrats. Public school teachers – see above.

    The private sector employee whose paycheck is not assaulted by the likes of Richard Trumka – the fat, obnoxious Pittsburgh area native who runs the AFL CIO – likely does not vote for the Commucrats. Stupid young people who are told what to think by modern TV, movies and music (especially single young women), illegal alien Hispanics, blacks, government workers……..tend to be loyal Obumblerbots and Commucrats. Obumbler cobbled them together and got himself elected twice.

    What Obumblercare will likely do is annoy enough young people to stay in Mom’s basement and not to vote for the Commucrat in 2014 and most certainly in 2016.

    Nothing will improve for the better, however, with McCain, McConnell, Gramnesty, Boehner and Cantor still in the United States Congress. In their own way, they are as bad as Obumbler.

  • Waiting periods, coverage issues, quality of care, and certain limits will be a learning experience. There are corporate and certainly government exemptions for those who want to control the who’s and how’s of their own healthcare, which is telling. Elections … parties ,,, my eyesight is dimming.

  • here in the united kingdom we have government run health care and I can tell you….it does not work….even those in parliament say that it does not work and they even told obummer that it does not work so why would that moron obummer do exactly what is not working is beyond me…other than the fact he is only in the white house because of his colour…my opinion of course…

  • Power and Control is why he does it J.A.C.

    For your own good of course!

  • Fortunately, when the Jackass Party faithful don’t get what they were told they would get, they stay home. Watch for a Zimmerman-like incident come next October-November that the blabbermouths will hype to try to rally the racialist mob. It’s all they’ll be able to do.

    And this made me grin :”Despite overwhelming public support, gun control is dead.” I don’t know what polls he’s reading, but it never was popular except among the media bobbing heads and east coast soccer mommies. If there had been any real momentum, we’d have seen legislation.

    One more thing – who else noticed that at roughly the same time, the Senate voted against ratifying the UN Arms Treaty? It would be interesting to see if there was any vote trading.

  • Half the population is receiving government assistance in one form or another. For some ungodly reason the people believe that this largess and generosity is coming from the Obama administration. Now, people are being seduced to believe that Obamacare is going to give them care and subsidize their premiums. Government in and of itself owns nothing. The generosity and assistance granted to people in serious need is from the taxpayers. Taxes belong to the tax payers even as the taxes are administered by the administration. In other words, no matter what party is elected into office, the generosity and assistance, of necessity, and in the good will of the people of this nation, will continue if not increase.
    Of the public lands and waterways, these like all public squares are owned in joint and common tenancy by each and every citizen, the rich, the not so rich, the young, and the old, not only because of the taxes which are paid by the people, but because the sovereign personhood of every individual constitutes this nation. The sovereign personhood of every individual constitutes the president and the presidency. You own it all, and I own it all, in joint and common tenancy, in personal and particular responsibility, and in corporate patriotism.”E Pluribus Unum” “from many (people) comes one (people)”.

22 Responses to Paul Ryan and Catholic Social Teaching (Roundup)

  • It’s been a while since you’ve posted here Chris.

  • While not perfect, Ryan offers a vision that is not contrary to CST. He does seem to get it wrong when he equates subsidiarity with Federalism. However, Federalism does not seem contrary to the concept of solidarity or subsidiarity and so seems a reasonable position to hold. In fact his error seems less eggregious than the one of equating solidarity with increased state involvement, increased taxes etc. So perhaps a B+ in his understanding. (Perhaps a good a grade as most clerics unfortunately would receive.)

    A solid A however, for offering a position which is consistent with CST and challenges those who believe CST is merely a theological formulation of leftist programs or fringe, quasi-economic theories.

  • In Ayn Rand more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most.

    Yeah, because those are two points that are really popular to defend outside of the libertarian circles and the standard Crazy Old Uncle….

    If folks have an issue with Ryan’s claim, please– explain who does it better? Not like ‘capitalism’ as a label is all that old; it’s not like the religious calls to groups over individuals haven’t been co-opted for political aims.

    I’m not going to hold my breath for a Bishop to defend the dignity of the poor when it comes to not being treated like house pets.

  • The best defense of the Ryan budget is this quote from Adam Smith:

    “When national debts have once been accumulated to a certain degree, there is scarce, I believe, a single instance of their having been fairly and completely paid. The liberation of the public revenue,if it has ever been brought about at all, has always been brought about by bankruptcy; sometimes by an avowed one, but always by a real one, though frequently by a pretend payment.”

    We reduce expenditures radically, or ultimately our economy will take a blow that we will be decades recovering from. I guarantee that in such a circumstance the poor will suffer more than any of us.

  • “We reduce expenditures radically, or ultimately our economy will take a blow that we will be decades recovering from. I guarantee that in such a circumstance the poor will suffer more than any of us.”

    This is one way to state the obvious. There is saying I used to hear all the time during my Navy days was that” S@#t rolls down hill.” I would have to say that principle applies here.

  • Note that it is possible to be guided by Catholic social teaching (which, as far as I can tell, is all that Ryan actually claimed) yet arrive at a conclusion the bishops find unsatisfactory.
    This is Ryan’s job – he undoubtably knows more about the facts and constraints of the problems than do the bishops. Many would like a solution that continues to fund entitlements as they are, but actual facts and constraints dictate that it is not possible to do that.
    The comments about ‘failing to protect the dignity of the poor’ sounds like a reflexive response. Many government programs erode that dignity; we are long overdue for an examination of the harmful effects that result. For example, school-lunch programs have expanded so much that they now cover multiple meals per day and almost everyone is eligible. Doesn’t this erode the dignity of parenthood, by removing the responsibility of feeding your own children?
    Many objected to welfare reform, too, decades ago…

  • Well, they didn’t exactly say Ryan is starving little children.

    The bishops don’t understand. The government is the problem.

    Case in point: in the first quarter 2012, the national debt expanded to $15.6 trillion. That is higher than the US gross domestic product for that date; and 1.5-times the percentage growth rate growth rate of the evil, unjust private sector GDP for which the Obama regime needs four more years to compete its destruction. Add to that unfunded commitments at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels and it’s HUGE.

    The national debt and local requirements will impoverish our children and grandchildren.

    Additionally, Re: Matthew 25 (it’s only in Matthew) doesn’t read: “I was hungry and you voted for Obama (fed me), I was thirsty and you attacked a Catholic Congressman (gave me to drink), . . . You get it.

    At the Final Judgment (Matt. 25): if you did it with other people’s money, it was not Charity.

  • Pingback: The Ryan Budget and Catholic Social Teaching « Blogs For Victory
  • It’s precisely the way he has handled the Ayn Rand story that gives me pause on defending him. It appears to me that he wants to pretend that he never held her up as a model, but the record shows otherwise. When I see Paul Ryan defending life and marriage with as much passion as he defends the dollar, I’ll be more apt to be convinced.

  • [Foxfier] “If folks have an issue with Ryan’s claim, please– explain who does it better?”

    The problem for me is that there’s too much baggage attached to ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to see a Catholic politician promoting it to the extent that Ryan has. Recalling my tortured reading, I found it to be thinly-veiled propaganda piece in which Rand’s own Objectivism is piled on pretty heavily. Egoism reigns supreme. For me, it’s difficult to extract from Rand’s book a “morality of capitalism” that isn’t already tainted by her own philosophy and anthropology. It wasn’t just the left that opposed Rand’s philosophy, but mainstream conservatism as well

    As far as individuals who Ryan might have praised as having articulated an ethic of democratic capitalism, Ryan would have made a better impression if he mentioned F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, or better yet, Michael Novak (The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism) and John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus.

    For Ryan to consistently wax evangelical about Ayn Rand’s and Atlas Shrugged through the past decade, only to suddenly in the past week have an about-face and disclaim that her philosophy is wholly “anti-thetical to his own” strikes me as a bit … “opportune”. Why now? — well, if genuine I’m happy about his sudden revelation.

    That said, with respect to Paul Ryan’s work in Washingon — his budget proposals, his spearheading the critique of Obamacare at the health care summit, et al., I’m supportive. Clearly, he’s one of the few who actually gives a damn about where this country is headed and wants to do something about it. To those who criticize his efforts on the budget, I agree with Professor Garnet: the onus is on them to respond to the challenges that he identifies.

    [Greg] “It’s been a while since you’ve posted here Chris.”

    Thanks. Work has been crazy, but I’m appreciative to still have the opportunity. =)

  • Fully agreed, Don (on Ryan’s pro-life record).

  • Agreed with Lisa and Christopher on their qualms re: Ryan and Atlas Shrugged. I’ve written about the book before, and there is little redeeming about the tome. As Christopher said above, there are plenty of other great works that defend capitalism much more concisely and thoroughly without being morally objectionable. That said, Ryan’s record demonstrates a solid commitment to social issues as well.

  • All I know is that letting capitalism work and a free market system seemed to create enough income for our fairly large family with enough to share with those less fortunate, the pro-life cause, Native American needs. Now since the sewage of government intervention continually seeps into every aspect of our operation we have less money, therefore less time as we have to work more off the farm jobs, longer hours for much less and are so tired we are having a hard time keeping up with any of it.
    surely you cannot think that Paul Ryan’s plan would not take care of those truly in need. That’s what the goal should be. It might be hard for people at first but if the country could get back to work and real earned income came back into the system we might be able to pull out of this. As long as we continue to be socially engineered we haven’t got a chance. I still don’t understand how BO got elected in the first place. Gotta go, have to change light bulbs in the barn, and put soap in the milkhouse sink or we’ll get kicked off Grade A. “rules” ya better not break or the “inspectors” will make your life miserable.

  • Christopher B-
    I didn’t say “articulated an ethic of democratic capitalism,” I specifically quoted the explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism.

    Others may do a better job in covering the technicalities and whys and all the things that are important once you have the idea, but Rand is accessible to those who don’t already agree.
    Terry Pratchett has a running joke about “That is a very graphic analogy which aids understanding wonderfully while being, strictly speaking, wrong in every possible way”. The more I teach folks, the more that makes perfect sense.

    Incidentally? Searching on Bing for “The Spirit of Democratic Populism” brings up zero results.

    The other examples that come to mind are Animal Farm and the various movies that have clones as main characters who are going to be killed for their organs. Inaccurate. Drama over accuracy, and world view taints them…but they humanize a view enough for people to consider the reality.

  • Yes, Rep. Ryan’s about-face is peculiar (to put it gently), but here’s hoping.

    It’s probably giving Rand entirely too much credit to call her “philosophy” a philosophy, though her enthusiasts certainly wax flatulent in their praise of her “insights.” One called her the “corrector of Aristotle,” which makes me profusely thank God that I did not have a beverage making its way to my innards at the time.

    In fact, it’s best to think of Rand as the distaff half of the coin to L. Ron Hubbard, as I said to the misguided Rand groupie. The parallels are interesting:

    both were moderately talented (if woefully unedited) writers. Each wrote science fiction, or at least future-oriented fiction, and each enjoyed considerable success in the 50s. Both developed grandiose notions about their competence outside of the field of fiction writing, and each developed what they regarded as systematic wholistic philosophies for living and interacting with fellow humans. Both still have significant, if decidedly minority, followings today, and have followers who make unsupportable claims about their intellectual legacies and the applicability of their legacies to the problems of today.

    That said (and there was more than the simple motivation to zing Rand), I think it’s a little overblown to worry about someone getting ensnared into an objectivist worldview. It’s idiosyncratic, and only seems to have worked for an egotistical horny Russian emigre’ pulp writer of the female persuasion. Most will cull from it a few bits regarding the dangers of collectivism and move on. The rest can be ignored as they toil away in their cubicles.

  • Christopher B-
    found it, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism;” a political conversion story probably won’t change minds unless they’ve already been prepped to at least consider the idea that they could be wrong, and the emotional impact of a story tends to do that. (Side note: haven’t read any of Rand’s stuff, I can’t stand stories that are sermons before they’re stories, and folks whose taste I trust have told me that’s what she wrote. I just know that’s a strange turn of taste, and I know a large number of formerly unthinkingly leftist folks who are now slightly less unthinking libertarians because of Rand, and some who already went through that stage and are now fairly conservative, or at least think about why they think what they think.)

  • “a political conversion story probably won’t change minds unless they’ve already been prepped to at least consider the idea that they could be wrong”

    Perhaps. (Sorry for the ‘populism’ typo earlier, corrected). But to give some credit to Novak’s work — despite it being non-fiction, it has gone through a number of underground printings and being an inin then-socialist nations in the 80’s (Communist Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc.) and changed a few minds.

    I agree with your point — giving credit where it’s due, Atlas Shrugged has probably change quite a few minds from the left-wing socialist persuasion. Even so, Rand’s “capitalist ethic” insofar as it manifests itself in her fiction seems to me too irretrievably tainted by her pure egoism and materialism, leaving no room for altruisim (or even religion). There’s a reason why mainstream conservativism sought to distance itself from it upon publication (ex. Big sister is Watching You, Whittaker Chambers National Review 1957; or more recently, Paul’s own review).

    In the end, Ayn Rand’s fiction puts forth the worst kind of stereotype of “capitalism” (and the nature of the capitalist) that you could ask for — and insofar as we do Randian’s ethic is lauded as an ideal to be pursued, liberals couldn’t ask for anything better as a target.

    Hence not the kind of work I’d envision a professed Catholic peddling to the degree that Ryan has done over the years, so I’m relieved at hearing of his “repudiation” and hope for the best.

  • (Sorry for the ‘populism’ typo earlier, corrected).

    I insert totally different words related to a topic all the time, especially when I’m talking. Part of why I love typing instead– I can go back over and re-read in hopes of catching really bad examples. Probably some kind of diagnosable thingie, if I wasn’t just fine calling it me being all flutter-brains.

    In the end, Ayn Rand’s fiction puts forth the worst kind of stereotype of “capitalism” (and the nature of the capitalist) that you could ask for — and insofar as we do Randian’s ethic is lauded as an ideal to be pursued, liberals couldn’t ask for anything better as a target.

    Agreed– but it does so in a sympathetic way. I really wish that most folks my age were objective enough to not believe the worst stereotype of “the other side” was accurate, but that isn’t so; having a book that appeals to their existing tendencies while being Kabuki Heartless Capitalism is pretty effective. College libertarians aren’t great to be around, but they beat college anarchists.

  • The World cannot embrace the truth. If it could, capitalism would need no defense.

    Capitalism may be the worst economic system, except for all the others.

    Go to the historical record. Capitalism stands apart from other so-called economic systems. Anti-capitalist nations devolved into hell holes of universal envy and mass brigandage. They had one common denominator: command economy/socialism.

    Capitalism is the cure for poverty.

  • Pingback: Distributism Paul Ryan Catholic Social Teaching Catholic | The Pulpit
  • I believe the criticisms of Paul Ryan and his admiration for Ayn Rand are examples of jumping to false conclusions or at least jumping to “false concerns.”

    Ryan is not inconsistent when he states being influenced by Rand’s economics, yet does not accept her philosophy in toto. Moreover, based upon what Ryan proposes, it should be obvious to even the casual reader that he goes way beyond anything that Rand would approve. How about letting these actions speak for themselves instead of lamenting over Ryan’s appreciation of Randian economic principles?

    As Aquinas was said to have “baptized” Aristotle, if you take all of what Ryan proposes, plus his pro-life and other Catholic stances, etc., you don’t have to conclude that he “baptizes” Rand, but he does find ways to take what Rand teaches (as well as others) and incorporate some of those insights into an approach consistent with Catholic teaching.

    But similar to the fallacy known as Reductio ad Hitlerum, some are jumping all over Paul Ryan in what might be called Reductio ad Ayn Rand despite the fact that Paul Ryan has distanced himself from many aspects of Randian philosophy that does not square with Catholic teaching. Ryan has made the distinctions clear, his actions illustrate this, and yet some people see his admiration for Ayn Rand economics as his defining characteristic, or it is considered to be very troubling.

    Here’s a logic-type question for all those who do not believe Ryan is “Catholic enough” in his economic philosophy because of his admiration for Randian economic libertarianism, and he “should” distance himself more from Rand:

    If Ryan’s appreciation for Ayn Rand is problematic because of some Randian views that do not square with Catholic teaching, then why is it not equally problematic to accept and even praise government involvement in various programs that help the poor to some extent, since the government champions many views that don’t square with Catholic teaching?

    Double Standard?

    Omnia Vincit Veritas

    P.S. I set forth a series of questions regarding “Moralnomics and the US Bishops” at my blog. If interested, you can check it out at:


33 Responses to Paul Ryan: A Catholic Champion For Liberty?

  • I am surprised that I agree with you. But I would completely oppose Ron Paul about whom you wrote, “Nor can I possibly count my political support for Ron Paul as support for the GOP…” He’s delusional and anti-semitic. And the GOP is infinitely preferrable to the Demokratik Party of Marxism, Atheism, Homosexuality and Abortion. True, God’s kingdom isn’t of this world and the GOP isn’t the party of God, but the Demokratik Party is the party of satan.

    Romney 2012, NOT Obama. That’s our choice, like it or not.

  • The complexity of the tax code is the result of several things, one of them of course attempts at social engineering – at least in the sense of rewarding those actions the drafter sees as positive, and punishing that seen as negative. But another big driver of the complexity is the attempt to “work around” the tax code. The code will tax a transaction X, so taxpayers (at least those who can afford advisors), structure the transaction as Y. The IRS picks up on this and gets the code changed to now address Y. Then the taxpayers start to use Z, and so on.

    How much of the second complicating factor can be eliminated by “simplifying” the code is difficult to gauge. Regardless, my hat’s off to Ryan if he is truly sincere about incorporating CST into the fed budget. Even if he is not particularly successful, at least he is taking it into account and making the effort.

  • I suppose when the entire world is crazy, the one sane man would appear delusional.

  • c matt is correct about the Code, but the other driver of complexity is fairness. Fairness and simplicity are often not in alignment. After all, the simplest tax would be a head tax, but few people would consider that fair. There are other drivers of course, such as the desire to hide true tax incidence by taxing business entities which pass on these costs through some unknowable combination of reduced earnings/dividends, higher prices, or reduced wages, all accomplished somewhat organically and randomly. Trust me there are lots of others having to do with accounting complexity and division of tax bases among jurisdictions, etc. Any CPA (or even accounting major) knows that accounting rules and theory are not simple and can be subject to debate and uncertainty; it stands to reason that taxes will be at least as difficult.

  • “I suppose when the entire world is crazy, the one sane man would appear delusional.”

    Anti-semitic, conspiracy theorist Ron Paul is still delusion by any sane standard.

  • That’s a great Ryan quote. I’m sure I’ll use it when the old charge of objectivism resurfaces.

  • It could be just me, but Ryan sounds like he’d be a great running mate for a presidential candidate with no fiscal/business experience.

  • Truly pathetic turnout of protestors against Paul Ryan during his speech at Georgetown:


    The Left just can’t turn out the numbers anymore for their street theater, even at a liberal university like Georgetown.

  • Mr. McClarey: Failing to “man the barricades”, er, get protesters to show up for a demonstration, is one result of over-dependence on slackers. See Instapundit

  • You know you are living in strange times when a politician does more to explain Catholic social teaching in a year than the bishops have done in over four decades.

    Like I said before, among the many things I like about Paul Ryan, his clear understanding of the importance of taking the Catholic social justice mantle away from the left and his efforts to do just that is far and away the thing I lke the most.

  • Pingback: LCWR Medjugorje Armenian Genocide Brad Pitt Angelina Jolie | ThePulp.it
  • Paul P.,

    Your comments about Ron Paul are the most delusional thing here.

    Charges of “anti-Semitism” are the last refuge of political scoundrels.

    This is what I think of 99% of the pathetic whining about “anti-Semitism”:


  • That said, I bloody well know that the options are Mitt vs. Barack. And I’ll probably vote for Mitt, only because of Obama’s assault on the Church – otherwise I was going to stay home or vote Constitution Party.

    What Ron Paul has accomplished is setting the stage for Rand Paul in 2016.

  • Bonchamps,

    We’ll agree to disagree.

  • Oh yes, we most certainly will.

  • Paul,

    If you think I haven’t already heard about and rejected this nonsense, you’re denser than I thought.

    Ron Paul isn’t a racist or an anti-Semite. I will not “wash my hands of him.” I’ve seen the charges against him and I’ve already decided “not guilty”, so you are completely and totally wasting your time with this garbage.

  • Wow! Believe what you want. I am done with this thread. No more reading what you say.

  • Fine with me! You have a nice day.

  • Ron Paul, nuttier than a fruitcake.


  • I will say that anyone, as Ron Paul did, who equates the U.S. going into Pakistan without their permission to kill bin Laden (never mind the fact there is good evidence that he was being harbored by the Pakistani government and would have been tipped off by them) with agents of the Chinese government doing the same to kill a Chinese dissident or that a nuclear armed Iran poses no threat has no business running for office of any kind.

  • I don’t want to debate foreign policy or Ron Paul here.

    I’ll post about both in the future and we can discuss them then.

  • On page 3 of The Catholic Herald, Superior Diocese, the headline reads, “Ryan budget proposal worries bishops”.

  • “You know you are living in strange times when a politician does more to explain Catholic social teaching in a year than the bishops have done in over four decades.”

    “On page 3 of The Catholic Herald, Superior Diocese, the headline reads, ‘Ryan budget proposal worries bishops’.”

    I would suggest the latter has something to do with the former. I might also suggest that the latter is due to a rather selective reading of CST by most bishops and the former, at a minimum, a lack of desire to teach the fullness of CST.

  • What he says seems pretty solid but why is he on the Democratic party?

  • Here is a budget indicator which ought to really worry Bishops.

    The US economy (GDP) last QTR grew by $142.4 billion. The US public debt grew $359.1 billion.

    This illustrates the fact that takers are taking 2.5x faster than makers are making.

    “The poor will always be with you.” Soon, we all will be poor.

  • “The US economy (GDP) last QTR grew by $142.4 billion. The US public debt grew $359.1 billion. ”

    One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist or a nuclear engineer to understand simple arithmetic. Thus will the Gospel of Social Justice die under the burgeoning and inexorable weight of its own illogic. Sadly, too many innocent victims will be (and are being) taken along for the ride.

  • I have unapproved several comments because Bonchamps will not be around to respond, and since several of these comments are critical of him, I believe it only fair that he deal with them as he sees fits.

    The American Catholic is a group blog. Each of us deal with comments in our threads as we deem best. I would note also that we each determine the topic of our posts and normally we do our best to keep the comments on topic. This thread was about Paul Ryan, and not Ron Paul, and I believe Bonchamps made it clear that he did not want to debate the merits or demerits of Ron Paul in this thread. That declaration of his should be respected by commenters on this thread. Let us also avoid personal attacks. That is not what this blog is for. Bonchamps is a talented writer and an original thinker and he has much to contribute to the blog. So everyone take a deep breath. I will be around this weekend and if any of our commenters wish to cross swords with anyone my threads are always available! 🙂

  • “On page 3 of The Catholic Herald, Superior Diocese, the headline reads, ‘Ryan budget proposal worries bishops’.”

    I am still hoping (against hope itself perhaps) that what Ryan is doing will force the bishops to actually address the issue of subsidiarity and its importance in a proper understanding of CST. If they had taken the opportunity during the Obamacare debate as well as at other times in the past to do that, we probably wouldn’t have had this HHS mandate problem to deal with. It seems they have thus far chosen to stick with being ideologues as oppsed to pastors and teachers on this issue and others like it.

  • The left often crows about “income disparity”, although income disparity is not, in and of itself, a problem. After all, if I am satisfied and reasonably comfortable with the my income, why should I care about the disparity between mine and some super rich guy?

    But there is a real disparity problem. And that is what we spend on these so-called entitlement programs and what actually goes to the recepient. I would like to see people like Ryan point these things out in a way that the common person can understand. I suspect if people knew how bad this particular problem is, they would clamour for something that would make Ryan’s budget like modest by comparison in terms of cuts in actual spending.

    To be sure, the next Reagan does not seem to be on the conservative horizon. But you don’t have to be Reagan to do many of the things Reagan did. One of which was the clear persistent pedagogical appraoch he took in making his case to the American public.

    In any event, I am optimistic about what Ryan is doing and that there is more where that coame from.

  • I simply cannot get ENOUGH of our bishops wondrous proclamations about politicos such as Paul Ryan and Arizona’s state legislators for example. Arizona’s resolute need to control its deluge of illegal immigrants prompted Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony to the cheers of other such Catholic pro illegal immigration advocates, to comment that Arizona immigration law is, essentially, akin to Nazism. The bishops’ who responded to Ryan’s budget proposal are as equally misguided, and they illustrate a manifest tunnel vision blindness to the practicalities of real governance. What they, and the organizations they foster, have themselves deemed necessary to do in light of Catholic America’s fiscal and moral crises of the last three decades, and to some degree by virtue of their own ineptitude; lock church doors or close the church altogether, close hospitals, schools, convents, seminaries, and adoption agencies is nothing that they would ever seemingly permit government similarly do. As one who has tried to avidly defend our beautiful Church against the onslaught of accusations from this secular, all the more atheistic society of ours, I in general find that the bishops make it ever so difficult to succeed at it.

  • Pingback: Paul Ryan and Catholic Social Teaching (Roundup) | The American Catholic

2 Responses to Chart of the Day: Spending Spree

Tax and Spend Impasse

Tuesday, March 8, AD 2011

Reading a rather cursory opinion piece this morning (calling for federal spending to be decreased) it occurred to me that there’s an interesting symmetry to what the more aggressive advocates of tax increases and spending cuts suggest:

The most passionate tax increase advocates frame their calls for tax increases in terms of some prior level of taxation: “We should roll back all the Bush tax cuts and return to the tax rates people payed under Clinton. We all remember the ’90’s; the world didn’t end when the top marginal tax rate was 39.6%” or “By golly, we should go back to the tax tables that were in force under that ‘socialist’ Eisenhower. 91% top marginal rate. That’ll teach those corporate fat cats to vote themselves bonuses.”

Similarly, when passionate spending cutters explain their plans, they tend to phrase it in terms of rolling back to a previous level of spending: “These ‘draconian’ cuts in fact only represent a return to 2006 spending levels. Did we starve in the streets then? Did the world end?”

Continue reading...

7 Responses to Tax and Spend Impasse

  • The dilemma (or one of them) is that any plan to phase in spendings cuts or tax increases to lessen the shock is dependent upon our elected representatives actually abiding by the phase-in. Possible. But likely? Not when Democrats in the Senate are unable to find more than $10bn to cut in discretionary spending.

  • That’s the thing about government spending: every dollar goes into someone’s paycheck. (Some go into overseas paychecks, and that should stop, but that’s a tiny percentage of the whole and cutting it to zero wouldn’t change the problem.) Even the “waste and corruption” that they’re always promising to cut — every dollar of that goes to pay someone to be wasteful or corrupt. So every spending cut means someone somewhere takes home less money.

    But the debt-fueled money tree is running out, so now the battle will be over who takes home less. Government workers have made it clear that they don’t intend to share in the pain; and they write the rules, so it seems like a stacked deck. But they’re still outnumbered (barely) and the client class that they’ve teamed up with in the past may not sit quietly while its own benefits are cut to fund lavish pensions for others.

    It’s going to have to come from somewhere.

  • “Not when Democrats in the Senate are unable to find more than $10bn to cut in discretionary spending.”

    How can you say that. That is 0.28% of the 2011 budget. What are we going to do with only 99.72% of the budget? Imagine if I had to cut my personal spending that much.

  • Phillip,

    Every. Dollar. Is. Essential.

    Don’t you get it?


  • Hah, another conservative seeking to starve the poor, make homeless the widow, oppress the workers, etc. etc. etc. 🙂

  • That’s the thing about government spending: every dollar goes into someone’s paycheck.

    I suppose this is true in a certain sense, in that wherever money goes it arguably eventually ends up in someone’s paycheck, but it’s certainly not directly so.

    So, for instance, if the Feds did not subsidize sugar prices, it’s not necessarily the case that sugar farmers would end up out of work, they might simply raise prices, which would cascade through the economy, raise a lot of prices, result in some consumption re-adjustments, create a larger market for corn syrup, and mostly be absorbed without anyone in particular losing their jobs. More to the point, if jobs did get lost over it, it might be next to impossible to figure out who and how the chain of events had caused it.

    I don’t have the numbers handy, but to my understanding most federal money does not go directly to any particular federal worker’s salary.

  • It really doesn’t matter whether it’s direct or not. If the sugar farmer raises his prices because his subsidy got cut, that just means the dollar comes out of his customers’ pockets instead of his own. The point is, if the government stops spending on something, that’s money someone no longer gets. If it buys fewer fighter jets, that means fewer people get paid to build them. If it stops funding midnight basketball courts, someone no longer gets paid to build them.

    I also said “someone’s paycheck,” not “a federal worker’s paycheck.” The “client class” which will soon be in a conflict with the government worker class includes those sugar farmers, as well as SSI recipients, people who build munitions, etc. Whether they get a check directly from the US Treasury or not, they’re dependent to some extent on continued government spending, and they’ll vote (and perhaps assemble into angry mobs) accordingly.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’d cut federal spending to the bone, and in the long term we’d be better off. But it’s going to hurt in the short term, because we’ve become so dependent on it.

Value Added Tax Will Not Solve Budgetary Woes

Tuesday, April 20, AD 2010

There has been a fair amount of useless discussion among pundits and Obama administration officials about a Value Added Tax, a National Sales Tax, the mainstay of the crumbling welfare states in Europe.  I say this discussion is useless, because Congress would never pass it, as the 85-13 vote in the Senate on an anti-Value Added Tax non-binding resolution indicates.

Today in the Washington Post Robert Samuelson explains why a VAT wouldn’t solve our budgetary woes:

The basic budget problem is simple. For decades, the expansion of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — programs mostly for the elderly — was financed mainly by shrinking defense spending. In 1970, defense accounted for 42 percent of the federal budget; Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were 20 percent. By 2008, the shares were reversed: defense, 21 percent; the big retirement programs, 43 percent. But defense stopped falling after Sept. 11, 2001, while aging baby boomers and uncontrolled health costs keep retirement spending rising.

Left alone, government would grow larger. From 1970 to 2009, federal spending averaged 20.7 percent of the economy (gross domestic product). By 2020, it could reach 25.2 percent of GDP and would still be expanding, reckons the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of President Obama’s budgets. In 2020, the deficit (assuming a healthy economy with 5 percent unemployment) would be 5.6 percent of GDP. To cover that, taxes would have to rise almost 30 percent.

A VAT could not painlessly fill this void. Applied to all consumption spending — about 70 percent of GDP — the required VAT rate would equal about 8 percent. But the actual increase might be closer to 16 percent because there would be huge pressures to exempt groceries, rent and housing, health care, education and charitable groups. Together, they account for nearly half of $10 trillion of consumer spending. There would also be other upward (and more technical) pressures on the VAT rate.

Does anyone believe that Americans wouldn’t notice 16 percent price increases for cars, televisions, airfares, gasoline — and much more — even if phased in? As for a VAT’s claimed benefits (simplicity, promotion of investment), these depend mainly on a VAT replacing the present complex income tax that discriminates against investment. That’s unlikely because it would require implausibly steep VAT rates. Chances are we’d pay both the income tax and the VAT, making the overall tax system more complicated.

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Value Added Tax Will Not Solve Budgetary Woes

  • As for a VAT’s claimed benefits (simplicity, promotion of investment), these depend mainly on a VAT replacing the present complex income tax that discriminates against investment

    And there’s the rub. I would have no objection to the VAT if it replaced income tax. But it never has – both the income tax and VAT have grown ever larger in European countries. The VAT simply allows a government addicted to spending to expand even further, like a junkie obtaining a new supplier.

  • A VAT wouldn’t replace the income tax, but it would replace income tax increases, which is the only other plausible source of the extra revenue we need.

  • If a political climate existed to pass a VAT BA, and if the Democrats can’t do it with the majorities they command now I find it difficult to imagine such a political climate, I guarantee you that the VAT taxes would ever increase, that the politicians would spend every cent raised in new spending and that reckless borrowing would continue. At least that has been the experience in Europe:

    “One trait of European VATs is that while their rates often start low, they rarely stay that way. Of the 10 major OECD nations with VATs or national sales taxes, only Canada has lowered its rate. Denmark has gone to 25% from 9%, Germany to 19% from 10%, and Italy to 20% from 12%. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation recently calculated that to balance the U.S. federal budget with a VAT would require a rate of at least 18%.

    Proponents also argue that a VAT would result in less federal government borrowing. But that, too, has rarely been true in Europe. From the 1980s through 2005, deficits were by and large higher in Europe than in the U.S. By 2005, debt averaged 50% of GDP in Europe, according to OECD data, compared to under 40% in the U.S.

    Thanks to the recession and the stimulus, U.S. federal debt held by the public has now reached about 63% of GDP and is headed higher, but the OECD forecasts that the 30 wealthiest nations will see debt burdens “exceed 100% of gross domestic product in 2011.” Debt levels in France, Germany, Spain and Italy are expected to have increased by 30 percentage points of GDP from 2008 to 2011. Greece has a VAT rate of 21%, but its debt as a share of GDP is 113%.

    The very efficiency of the VAT means that it throws off huge amounts of revenue that politicians eagerly spend. The VAT thus becomes an engine of even greater public spending. In Europe, average government spending was about 30.2% of GDP when VATs began to spread in the late 1960s. Today, those governments are more than 50% larger, with spending of 47.1% of GDP on average. By contrast, U.S. government spending (federal and state) rose to 35.3% from 28.3% as a share of GDP in the same period.”


  • I don’t think it’s likely but a VAT along with an income tax cut might be political feasible. You can probably massage the numbers and sell it as a net tax cut.

    I’d love to replace all or part of the income tax with a VAT but I have no faith in the government getting it right. I’ve become convinced that ever-increasing bureaucracy is what will bring America down.

  • If a political climate existed to pass a VAT BA . . . I guarantee you that the VAT taxes would ever increase, that the politicians would spend every cent raised in new spending and that reckless borrowing would continue. At least that has been the experience in Europe.

    Actually this *hasn’t* been the experience in Europe. It’s true that VAT rates has tended to go up after its introduced; however, this increase in revenue has been at least partially offset by reductions in taxes elsewhere. Thatcher, for example, raised the VAT to offset decreases in the income tax while simultaneously cutting spending. The same thing happened in New Zealand in the 1980s, Canada in the 1990s, and (to a lesser extent) Australia in the 2000s.

  • The very efficiency of the VAT means that it throws off huge amounts of revenue that politicians eagerly spend.

    This argument would apply equally to any kind of tax simplification, including the Flat Tax, the Fair Tax, the Reagan tax cuts, etc. It would also apply to income tax cuts to the extent that they are justified on supply side grounds.

Concord Coalition: 14.4 Trillion Dollar Deficit

Friday, August 28, AD 2009

14.4 trillion

In this earlier post I reported that the Obama administration is predicting a 9 trillion dollar deficit over the next ten years.  Now, the non-partisan Concord Coalition is predicting here a 14. 4 trillion dollar deficit over the next 10 years.

Continue reading...

Obama Finds His 9/11

Friday, February 27, AD 2009

Critics of the Bush Administration often complained (especially during his first term) that Bush used 9/11 as a justification for nearly everything he did. Given that the country was widely supportive of the administration in the years right after the attack, this was (the complaint went) a way for Bush to do things he’d wanted to do anyway under the guise of responding to an emergency. While I think this complaint was overstated, there is an element of truth to it. For instance, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of question that many within the administration (rightly or wrongly) wanted to get rid of the Baathist regime in Iraq even prior to taking office.

In this respect, Obama seems to have found his 9/11, his excuse for doing all the things he and his party want to do while assuring everyone it would be a Very Bad Idea it not Downright Unpatriotic for them to disagree. Obama’s 9/11 is the recession, or as the media seems to have named it “The Worst Economic Downturn Since the Great Depression”. (This is, to my mind, a rather unwieldy name. Perhaps we could just call it the “Big Recession” or the “Little Depression”?)

Thus, in his presentation of a new budget which is heavy on partisan measures (big tax increases on “the rich” and preparation for major changes in social service structure and spending) and racks up the largest deficit (as percentage of GDP) since 1942, Obama assured people that this was necessary in order to restore the economy:

Continue reading...

20 Responses to Obama Finds His 9/11

  • Interesting. Bush used 9/11 to spread imperialism; lead a series of unjust military actions that resulted in 100s of 1000s of unnecessary deaths; torture, suspend habeas corpus etc,

    So far, Obama has used the recession to extend healthcare for children, invest in our infrastructure and attempt to put a modicum of order to the shambles of an economy that Bush and his Republican majority bestowed on us.

  • Bush used 9/11 to spread imperialism;

    Really? It’s certainly one of the more interesting imperialistic regimes of all times, one in which the supposed imperial power has not exactly displayed a penchant for flexing its will on the supposed colonial powers.

    lead a series of unjust military actions that resulted in 100s of 1000s of unnecessary deaths;

    A series? There have been exactly two military actions taken, the first of which was largely supported. So we have exactly one supposedly unjust military action that resulted in the creation of the only Arabic democracy in the world.

    suspend habeas corpus

    This allegation would be true were it the United States circa 1861, but last I check habeas corpus remained well in tact unless you were a non-citizen who was considered a terrorist.

    Obama has used the recession to extend healthcare for children, invest in our infrastructure and attempt to put a modicum of order to the shambles of an economy that Bush and his Republican majority bestowed on us.

    Yeah, keep drinking that kool-aid Mark. So far Obama has used the “crisis” to drastically increase the size and reach of the federal government. The “infrastructure” developments largely extend to helping union construction workers here in DC in order to make the federal government buildings look prettier. But hey, billions of dollars for ACORN and trains between Disney and Las Vegas will surely restore the economy.

    BTW, you do realize that the Democrats have been in the majority for well over two years?

  • Paul

    It is well documented, even by Paul Wolfowitz himself, that our primary reason for going into Iraq was oil.

    I am sorry I do not minimize the deaths of Middle Easterners in the manner that you apparently do.

    When localized governments,human service organizations, and the private sector fail to deliver what the common good demands, CST allows– even calls for– actions by government on the higher-level.

    Stop reading your Rand, Acton, or Limbaugh propaganda.

  • It is well documented, even by Paul Wolfowitz himself, that our primary reason for going into Iraq was oil.

    That claim doesn’t pass the sniff test. If we were going there to take their oil, isn’t it odd that we haven’t taken it?

    I am sorry I do not minimize the deaths of Middle Easterners in the manner that you apparently do.

    And yet you wish so very much that the Iraqi people were still being crushed under the Baathist’s boots, rather than running their own country democratically? I’m afraid I don’t despise them so much.

    However, I do think that the attempt to use 9/11 as a shortcut to gain support for the Iraq War (a worthy cause in its own right) has resulted in a great deal of trouble in the long run. The Iraq War should have been sold on its own merits.

    And I strongly suspect that as people wake up to realize that Obama is mortgaging (if not destroying) the US economy in order to achieve his dream of a euro-style technocratic state, they will similarly turn on him for having sold them a bill of goods under false pretenses.

    When localized governments,human service organizations, and the private sector fail to deliver what the common good demands, CST allows– even calls for– actions by government on the higher-level.

    Which is exactly why Obama should not be frittering away money on silly pet projects and political games in the middle of a recession.

  • Darwin,

    Nice post. There’s nothing like a crisis to justify a power grab by politicians.

    And to Obama’s claim that this is not a normal turn of the business cycle, I’d suggest checking out some of the nice charts that the Minnesota Fed has put out comparing this recession to previous postwar recessions. It’s not obvious that this is the worst (or even the 3rd or 4th worst) in the past half century or so.

  • It is well documented, even by Paul Wolfowitz himself, that our primary reason for going into Iraq was oil.

    If it is well documented, then you can easily provide the documentation. I await with baited breath.

    I am sorry I do not minimize the deaths of Middle Easterners in the manner that you apparently do.

    What Darwin said in response is basically what I would have said.

    Stop reading your Rand, Acton, or Limbaugh propaganda.

    Never read Rand or Acton, but some people named Madison, Adams, and Hamilton who all predicted that this would come to pass if we destroyed the breaks on plebiscatary democracy.

  • that this would come to pass if we destroyed the breaks on plebiscatary democracy”

    O O O O…
    It’s so elegant,
    So intellligent.

    And try Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Maratain.

  • O O O O…
    It’s so elegant,
    So intellligent.

    And try Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Maratain.

    Mark, seriously, if you have something intelligent to contribute, do so.

    For instance, you speak of Plato. Clearly you know nothing of Plato if you believe that he was a proponent of mass democracy. In The Politics he described the degeneration of regimes from timocracy, to oligarchy, to democracy, to tyranny. The democratic form of government is actually castigated by Plato. Aristotle also lists democracy among the bad forms of government – “polity” was the good form of rule by the masses, one in which the people governed indirectly.

    The Framers established a Republic, one which was designed to limit the harm done by mass democracy. The Framers feared that demagogues could use crises to devise hasty legislation that would be designed to do good, but instead would do more harm. As Madison said in Federalist 63:

    “As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow meditated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice, and truth can regain their authority over the public mind? What bitter anguish would not the people of Athens have often escaped if their government had contained so provident a safeguard against the tyranny of their own passions? Popular liberty might then have escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same citizens the hemlock on one day and statues on the next.”

    Seems like he was on to something.

  • It is well documented, even by Paul Wolfowitz himself, that our primary reason for going into Iraq was oil.

    It depends on what you mean. Here are some options:

    1) The Middle East wouldn’t play such an important role in international politics if it did not have oil, and that this was a sine qua non of U.S. military involvement in the region in both of the Gulf Wars. In other words, the strategic importance of the region’s resources creates the necessary background conditions for military involvement.

    2) The U.S. went into Iraq because they wanted to take Iraqi oil.

    If you mean the former I agree; if you mean the latter, I expect next you’ll confess you have some suspicions about the ‘official story’ for 9/11. I’m kidding…mostly, but I think both are fevered conspiracy theories.

  • Paul,

    Plato wrote the Republic. Aristotle wrote the Politics. Plato said what you summarize in the Republic.

  • Paul

    And read, say, Maratain’s beautiful Universal Declaration on Human Rights, written for the U.N.

    BTW, in the words of some rock persona whose name I cannot seem to remember, “I am a lover, not a fighter.” So I advise that you save your spiritedness for your Rush fix on Monday. But I pray for your co-workers and relatives who think differently than you and may happen to be in your proximity. 😉

  • Sorry for the typo. But do you care to actually argue about what was said? And while you’re at it, you still have not shown any documentation that the Iraq war was about oil – something easy to do since it is so well documented.

  • And I much prefer another French philosopher, linked to today by Zach at Civics Geek. Again, it fits the occasion:

  • John Henry,

    not to mention it’s unlikely that Hussein could have remained in power without oil revenues, nor could he have been as great a threat to US interests without it.

  • Very nice link, Paul. I particularly liked this passage:

    “[The despotism that arises from a democracy] does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which government is the shepherd. .??.??.”


  • Hit the nail right on it’s head.

    A fine post.

    Obama and the liberal Democrats will seize as much power as possible to push their Marxist agenda.

    Can’t wait for the congressional elections in two years.

  • It is amazing that these Obama nuts still do not seem to realize that they voted for a total idiot that has no idea what he is doing. He is without a doubt a socialist, but this one cannot add, does not know history, and certainly hates the USA.

  • Gramps,

    Just a friendly reminder to address the issues and not to demean people.


  • I certainly agree with many (though not all) of the President’s goals, but his statist impulses vary in no way from the standard Democrat line for the last sixties, and as numerous scholars have argued, such an approach only furthers the atomization of our culture and the withering away of intermediary associations, tending toward a future in which the State is involved in every aspect of our life and the exclusion of other entities… in other words, totalitarianism.

  • “in other words, totalitarianism.”


    You surprised me here. I take you as much more intellectually temperate.