Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 27, 2010

KRISTOL OFFERS A PREVIEW OF WHAT'S TO COME.... When it comes to journalistic standards, policy understanding, political prognostications, and basic human decency, I don't consider Bill Kristol an especially credible figure. But his sources in Republican politics tend to be pretty solid, so when he talks about what Americans expect from the GOP next year, it's worth taking him at least a little seriously.

Here, for example, was an exchange on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday about the widely-panned "Pledge with America" pseudo-agenda presented Thursday by House Republican leaders.

KRISTOL: It's a step on the way to boldness. I mean, seriously, if a power drunk, inebriated, big government-loving Democratic Party is driving the car off the cliff, the first responsibility is to put on the brakes. I think the Republicans are absolutely right about that. Stop the bad policies, go back to 2008 levels of discretionary spending, that's a pretty big cut, as you pointed out in your interview with Republican leaders. That's a pretty big cut in current discretionary spending.

WALLACE: Nothing about earmarks, nothing about entitlements.

KRISTOL: There are not gonna be earmarks next year. They can't get all their caucus to agree to it now, but if Republicans take the House, there will be such sentiment of the Tea Party nation that they will not, in my view, do earmarks. They will really cut discretionary spending. Paul Ryan will lay down the budget on April 1st, 2011, as chairman of the Budget Committee, that will address entitlements. They're being reasonable; they're being bold in a reasonable way.

First, "putting on the brakes" when Democrats are finally dragging the car out of the ditch Republicans left us in seems like a bad idea. At the risk of straining the metaphor, if hitting the gas helped end the recession and started adding jobs again, why would Republicans want to slam on the brakes?

Second, going "back to 2008 levels of discretionary spending" would lead to drastic cuts to education and essential public services -- the kind of cuts that would hurt working families at a time when the economy is already struggling.

Third, if there are "not gonna be earmarks next year," there's no reason why GOP leaders felt compelled to leave this out of their plan.

And fourth, if Paul Ryan "addresses entitlements," he's going to slash Social Security and Medicare with devastating consequences. That's his plan -- he's put in writing.

Kristol might as well been offering a testimonial on behalf of Democrats -- vote GOP in November and the country will go back to Bush-era economic policies, coupled with drastic cuts to education, Social Security, and Medicare. That's not some liberal making the case; that's Bill Kristol telling Fox News how it's going to be.

Steve Benen 4:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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I'm pretty sure Obama will get reelected regardless (unless we get some crazy surprise double dip), but if the GOP wins the House and actually proposes cuts, I think his margin might be even bigger in 2012 after all their "ideas" are exposed.

Posted by: Jack B. Nimble on September 27, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Congressmen getting rid of earmarks? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

He seriously need to either get off the drugs or make his way back to the real world ASAP.

Posted by: et on September 27, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

if hitting the gas helped end the recession and started adding jobs again, why would Republicans want to slam on the brakes?

Uhh, maybe because they represent the interests of corporations and the rentier class, who either prefer high levels of employment (keeps wages low and employees quiet) or don't care about employment (it's for the little people, don't you know), and who detest inflation because it devalues debt.

The question is, why is this ever a question?

Posted by: bleh on September 27, 2010 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican plan is to simply make government nonfunctional until such time as they control all three branches, then they'll install these plans. So in 2011, I doubt we'll see much in the way of radical spending cuts. In 2013, if a Republican is President, we will see Ryan's plan instituted, and the corporate state of a corrupt elite institutionalized.

Posted by: JMG on September 27, 2010 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, high levels of UNemployment.

Posted by: bleh on September 27, 2010 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

All Kristol is hoping for is reformulating our national budget to support the War of Armageddon, which he sees as beginning in ernest when our government finally decides to bomb Iran!

Kristol needs to be laughed away from the table of civil company and civil discourse! He is a buffoon! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 27, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Teapers intend to slash everything they hate, the EPA, the Dept. of Ed, anything that enforces civil rights or fairness, FDA, regulation enforcement, etc. Obama will veto it all, the markets will panic, the economy WILL take another dive and they'll whip the electorate into a such a rage against the "cause," government spending and paralysis, that Sarah Palin will be elected in 2012. Trust me, that's the plan.

Posted by: dalloway on September 27, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

What exactly does Kristol mean by going back to 2008 levels of discretionary spending? Discretionary spending was 39% of the fy 2008 budget and was 38% of the fy 2010 budget and is going down as a percentage again in the 2011 budget. Does he really mean to go back to the same nominal expenses as 2008? Is he a fool? Or does he think the American people are fools? The monster deficits didn't come from some wild extravagence on the part of the Democrats, it came from a failed economy and was eight years in the making. Loss of revenue from tax cuts and loss of revenue from massive unemployment and underemployment are what drove the numbers up, not a Democratic spending binge.

This myth about Democratic profligacy is just that, a myth. It is the Republicans who tried to drive us off an economic cliff and now they want back in the driver's seat. And all the available evidence points to the fact that they have only a hazy idea of which is the gas peddle and which is the brake. Anybody who trusts them with this country again is a fool.

Posted by: majun on September 27, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with shouting "are you f-ing kidding me? You want the same guys who did it wrong the first time back for another round?!?" is that the righties are convinced that all economic troubles are the fault of liberals, regardless of who is in power, regardless of actual history really. The shitty economy of the Reagan/Bush era was Jimmy Carter's fault, the shitty economy of the Bush 2.0 era was all Clinton's fault. Now, even though a Republican administration managed to frack up the most solid economy we'd seen in a while, and nothing has, to my knowledge, aside from a natural disaster, gotten any worse since Obama's been in office (and for me personally, things have actually improved a smidgen) they're still intent on believing that in two years the Obama administration managed to put this country in the mess the Bush era did, nevermind that we were having these issues before the dude was even nominated for the Democratic candidacy. No, no, it's all Obama's fault, AND Clinton's fault, AND Carter's fault and FDR's and... and YEAH! That's pretty much how I've found the argument works.

Posted by: Layla on September 27, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

You have to admit, April 1 is a pretty fitting day for Paul Ryan to present a budget.

Posted by: Dunstan on September 27, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

So basically the message is "thanks a bunch for all that extra money you paid in to Social Security for nearly thirty years but we have more important things to spend it on than your retirement".

Posted by: thebewilderness on September 27, 2010 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

I know it's looking pretty bleak for the Dems in November, but these repugs and neocons are already assuming chairmanships of committees, the tan Boner will be speaker, as if it's a done deal that the Dems are going down in flames. Where is it written in stone that all this is going to occur? I'll tell you where- in their own minds and in the minds of cable news pundits. I realize that their are millions of Americans who are just plain uninformed doofuses but how are they so sure that repugs will take over. Im thinking that when it really comes time to pull that lever many will really think long and hard about giving the power back to the idiots who got us into this fix in the first place. Just my opinion.

Posted by: Chris on September 27, 2010 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly our President has appointed folks like Alan Simpson to a commission that will likely endorse cutting Social Security as a way to balance the budget (while at the same time the commission is likely to support retaining lower tax rates for the richest 2% of Americans, and allowing loopholes so the Wall Street firms that helped create the mess can still profit).

Posted by: curm on September 27, 2010 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, bleh! No fair; you peeked behind the curtain.

Oh, Layla! Forget the history lesson; we need to stop dwelling on the past, look to the future- that Shining City on the Hill (the one Saint Ronaldus told us about-covered in gilt: it's why Glen says buy gold NOW!)

And, for all you cut spending, abolish this and that Teapartiers, be careful what you wish for. That pot hole in front of your house will become a sink hole, your still-employed wife will file for divorce, and your daughter will run off with a meth-dealing Hell's Angel. . .

Posted by: DAY on September 27, 2010 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

big government-loving Democratic Party

Tsk, he's off-message. Dishonest jackass conservatives are supposed to say "Democrat Party," for some reason.

Posted by: Gregory on September 27, 2010 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

So a guy who holds no office, and doesn't intend to run for one confidently promises that the Republicans will get rid of earmarks. How come no Republican office holders are making that promise?

Posted by: lb on September 27, 2010 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

FEUDALISM of the corporate variety here we come. IF you liked the late 19th social, health, environmental, and wage culture we are approaching it.

To paraphrase Weezer, "I might as well enjoy my life and watch the rich play."

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on September 27, 2010 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

So Kritol wants to return to the glory days of 2008 spending?

Let's see...oh yes....President Bush

Perhaps he meant 2007

Let's see....President Bush

No? perhaps 2006 then

And of course it was President Bush who submitted and authorized the fiscal year 2009 budget (thru September 2009)


Posted by: Oh my on September 27, 2010 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

"They will really cut discretionary spending. Paul Ryan will lay down the budget on April 1st, 2011, as chairman of the Budget Committee, that will address entitlements. They're being reasonable; they're being bold in a reasonable way."

You've never been right before Bill so why start now?

Posted by: Sean Scallon on September 27, 2010 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

I readily admit that I am not as smart as I have always thought. This probably explains why I simply cannot grasp that voters will vote in droves for the republicans in Nov.

The repubs are telling seniors, many of whom would not be alive today without Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, that they will "transation" away from these programs. And yet they will vote republican?

And the idea that a group of unemployed (the 99ers) are planning to sit out the Nov. election or not vote for the Democrats when it the republicans who have voted against every extension of unemployment benefits is truly astounding.

I don't get it.

Posted by: Sammy on September 27, 2010 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

@Sammy: No, you are smart if you are wondering what the hell is going on. I also cannot grasp the notion that many voters will go and vote Republican this November.

But you know what I don't get? The fact that even after reading the bull puckey that Kristol spewed out, many Democrats/Liberals/Progressives will sit this one out and allow the Reubs to take control.

There's ideological purity in action for you.

Still, hang in there, man.

Posted by: Marc McKenzie on September 29, 2010 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK
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