Sledgehammer's Cycles

Sledgehammer's Cycles
Sledgehammer's Performance and Custom Cycles

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vibration

It looks like all Romney has to do is not lose the next debate - be competent, reasonably likeable, and avoid drooling.  I expect this won't be very hard.

What seems interesting is that Republicans seems to be doing better than expected in the down races, particularly the Senate.  I have no workable model of how people will vote locally, but it seems plausible that the GOP will puck up a bunch of Senate seats, and may in fact retake the senate.

And for the first time, this makes me pessimistic.

This would indeed allow outright repeal of Obamacare and would maybe help a bit with SCOTUS nominations, but that's about as far as the upside looks to go.  The problem is that this race will be decided (at the national level certainly, but also in the state races) by turnout.  The GOP is planning a massive Get Out The Vote campaign, and a huge number of people will show up to vote GOP.  The Republican establishment will look at this and say Aha! Q.E.D. and continue all their old, bad ways that got them tossed out in 2006/2008.

And so they will quickly fall back into their old ways, enjoying the perks of power.  President Romney is a go along to get along sort of guy, and won't rein them in.  Paul Ryan might want to, but the Vice Presidency is the graveyard of ambition.  And so the massive turnout that swept the GOP into power will bleed away, and the Tea Party and libertarian types (and Democrat crossovers) give up in disgust.

The Democratic Party of course will be furious at Obama's loss, and will redouble its efforts to take power back.  Depending on how quickly the GOP establishment alienates the voters who brought it to victory, 2014 may see the Democrats re-take the Senate.  The game will be one of oscillation, where each side pushes the swing, making the vibrations increase each election cycle.

The danger is that the extremes don't cancel each other, but reinforce each other:



This is the famous Takoma Narrows Bridge which collapsed in 1940.  The wind in the narrows blew with a particular force that got the bridge swaying back and forth, and one day the wind blew just right and the sway increased with each swing.  Eventually the concrete and steel could take no more stress, and the bridge collapsed.

This Republic has strong bonds holding it together, but those bonds will take only so much stress.  There are those in both parties who are reckless of the costs of their regaining committee chairmanships.  The force that is increasing the stress on the Res Publica are entirely the increased size of government - for government is power, and that attracts those who would wield it.

The looming fiscal crisis has but a single solution, consisting of three parts:

1. Government programs (particularly the Democratic entitlement programs) must be cut.  This is in fact the heart of the problem.

2. Taxes must be raised, because it will be impossible to get Democratic support to curb entitlements without new taxes.  This is annoying, but is a plain fact.

3. The size of government must be cut, because otherwise the Tea Party types will (correctly) interpret "reform" as "more of the same".  Downsizing Federal headcount is the price for their support - a tangible display of "shared sacrifice".

Romney will excel at reaching across the aisle to gain Democrat support (#2, above).  His record in Massachusetts shows this conclusively.  What he may not do is appeal to the Tea Party (#3).  Ryan was a hope, but as I said he will not be in any position of responsibility.

And so I find myself pessimistic as to the outcome.  The GOP establishment will continue to push for larger government, because they are all itching to wield the levers of power.  They should know that these same (now enlarged) levers will be used by the Democrats when they return to power.  They should know that GOP success depends on the Tea Party, and voters like me.

I'm pessimistic because while I think that they understand this, they don't care.  The lure of power overwhelms their sense of caution, or more likely the hope that things won't turn out this way gives them the green light to skate past their responsibility.  In short, the GOP embodies P.J. O'Rourke's dictum that giving money and power to politicians is like giving alcohol and car keys to teenagers.

I expect that the next 2 years will see this Republic continue vibrating towards the resonant frequency.  The Ship of State is captained by fools, and all this election is looking to do is replace one set of fools with a different one.  I sure hope that I'm wrong.

14 comments:

drjim said...

You just put into words something I've been observing for many years but never wrote down.
Let's hope that people like us and the Tea Party add some resistance to that resonant circuit and dampens the Q a bit so it doesn't break into terminal oscillation!

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Yup.

"Ryan was a hope, but as I said he will not be in any position of responsibility."

Oh, he will be in a position of responsibility, but he'll most likely follow the modern tradition and abandon the only Vice Presidential duty that's actually part of the Constitution.

Will said...

NO on your #2. That's how we got here in the first place. Raising taxes takes all the drive out of cutting expenses, so it never happens. That is how the Dems play the game. Or game the play. Whatever.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Raise taxes by adding a percent to FICA witholding and raise the salary cap of taxable FICA exposed salary and maybe devote a percentage point of Capital Gains go to FICA. Do the other flattening mostly revenue neutral reforms proposed. Maybe raise the Cap Gains tax to the same as the highest marginal rate. By also cutting the highest rate WAY down.

Cormac said...

It'd be nice if Ryan turned out to actually have a pair...

Stopping Romney's nonsense in the Senate would go a long way toward keeping the Tea Party and libertarians happy.

Ok, time to wake up and get back to work now.

NotClauswitz said...

I wonder what would happen of Romney won the popular vote in California,
things could get very "interesting" here, very quickly.

drjim said...

I agree it would get very "interesting" here, but I don't think it's possible.
It would be like both Nazi Pelosi and Diane Frankenstein getting voted out.

Divemedic said...

A couple of other points:

- Defense will need to be cut.
- Social Security and Medicare will also have to be cut.

In fact, the Feds spend $1.40 for every dollar that they take in. Just cutting social programs is no longer enough.

The problem here is that any politician that suggests cutting programs, especially SS and Medicare, will quickly find himself unelected.

Similarly, raising taxes is a tough sell, unless you convince people that the people to be taxed is the other guy. (For example, the 1%)

No matter what happens, we as a nation are doomed. It is impossible for things to go any other way. This nation will not see another century turn.

John Stephens said...

This too shall pass. The United States existed prior to the establishment of the currently constituted Federal government, and will persevere without it if need be.

Anonymous said...

No more God Damn Taxes!

I pay enough, and the leeches in Washington are far too clever to let any
new revenue get to where it is needed.

If you want to balance the budget, stop paying the senators, representatives, governors, and other
officials until all the other expenses are covered. In other words, the president gets paid last,
out of whatever is left over after paying everything else.

Anonymous said...

Buried in the post is a reference to committee chairmanships. That is the nub of the problem. All of the power, graft, corruption, personal wealth enhancement and cronyism flows from control of the committees. Republicans were blissfully unaware of this for decades until the Newt insurrection of '94. Now, both parties realize that control of the committees is the only reason to stay in government. The result has been an ever escalating and increasingly vicious war where the battles take place every two years and battle prep is continuous.

agirlandhergun said...

I sure hope your wrong too.

What a mess.

Julie said...

You just put into words something I've been observing for many years but never wrote down. Let's hope that people like us and the Tea Party add some resistance to that resonant circuit and dampens the Q a bit so it doesn't break into terminal oscillation!

Melissa said...

No more God Damn Taxes! I pay enough, and the leeches in Washington are far too clever to let any new revenue get to where it is needed. If you want to balance the budget, stop paying the senators, representatives, governors, and other officials until all the other expenses are covered. In other words, the president gets paid last, out of whatever is left over after paying everything else.