Tuesday, November 2, 2010

US Midterm Elections: A Stark Choice

To all US readers: don't forget to vote today. This is an unusual election in that there are issues of great substance at stake and the choices are stark. Thomas has an interesting article on a new book about the Great Depression. Here is how it starts:
Guess who said the following: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work." Was it Sarah Palin? Rush Limbaugh? Karl Rove?

Not even close. It was Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt and one of FDR's closest advisers. He added, "after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . And an enormous debt to boot!"

This is just one of the remarkable and eye-opening facts in a must-read book titled "New Deal or Raw Deal?" by Professor Burton W. Folsom, Jr., of Hillsdale College.

Ordinarily, what happened in the 1930s might be something to be left for historians to be concerned about. But the very same kinds of policies that were tried-- and failed-- during the 1930s are being carried out in Washington today, with the advocates of such policies often invoking FDR's New Deal as a model.

Franklin D. Roosevelt blamed the country's woes on the problems he inherited from his predecessor, much as Barack Obama does today. But unemployment was 20 percent in the spring of 1939, six long years after Herbert Hoover had left the White House.

Read the rest here.

The election today can stop Obama from doing more damage, but unfortunately Obama will still be able to stop congress from fixing the economy if he is obstinate. This is why the scope and depth of the Republican win today matters so much. The bigger the wave, the less likely Democrats can stand in the way of smaller government, lower taxes, reductions in spending and confidence building measures for small businesses, which are the engine of the US economy.

I have already predicted a Republican win long ago but today I sense something historic building in momentum. I have a feeling that the polls have underestimated the size of the wave. By early tomorrow morning we will know.

In the meantime, I think I'll order this new book. I'm afraid it is going to be a relevant book for a while yet.


Nathan said...

" The bigger the wave, the less likely Democrats can stand in the way of smaller government, lower taxes, reductions in spending and confidence building measures for small businesses, which are the engine of the US economy."

Republicans have been running under a "small government" mantra since at least 1980, but they have never achieved it. Not even when President George W Bush's party had control of the House and a 50-50 tie in the Senate. Also, taxes are already at historic lows in the United States. Do they really need to go lower?

I agree that cutting spending is a good way to balance the budget. However, the GOP Pledge to America specifically protected Defense, Medicare, Social Security, and Veterans Affairs. Those categories account for more than half of the budget. Most of the things they pointed out as targets for cuts (congressional budget, "pork," etc.) are so small they are hardly worth considering and are purely symbolic.

Craig Carter said...

You are absolutely right. The real story in this election is the take over of the Republican Party by conservatives who want to change it. Establishment Republicans either always were or became members of the Ruling Class (as defined by Angelo Codevilla).

The Tea Party is an attempt to move the Republican Party away from being an instrument used by the Ruling Class to co-opt the social conservatives and the foreign policy hawks and the libertarians in the service of a big government, welfare state agenda.

The Tea Party, to be successful in its take over bid, needs the Republican Party to succeed or else the establishment will be able to argue that it can't make room for Tea Party constitutionalism because it would be electoral suicide. So don't think that my cheer leading for the Republicans is naive. It is strategic: a better chance at power than a third party option.

The ultimate goal is to move both major parties rightward, which will only be accomplished by making the rightward move compatible with electability.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the Republican Party cannot be changed. If the New Left could seize control of the Democratic Party as a tiny minority, surely a working majority of Americans can take control of the other major party.