Six Conservative Guys

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Specialists, and underpaid generalists will hang it up years ahead of their planned exit from medicine in just about any system that the Obama administration is likely to devise. They’ll scarcely need to ration care: there just won’t be anyone around to deliver it. Government will kill the golden goose, and then blame it upon everyone and anyone else. As usual.”

Who will government blame for the next crisis it creates? Greedy doctors? Pharmaceutical companies? Insurers? I guess all of the above.

The problem with health care is that there is no real market incentive. The person receiving the service is, in almost all cases, completely unaware of the true cost of the service they receive.

This is true even (perhaps especially) for those with good insurance. I know this from handling my grandmother's bills while she was ill. We pay her co-pay, sure, but there is very little incentive to go through the trouble of questioning a bill, shopping for a better deal, or even checking to make sure you weren't charged for a service you didn't receive. We have a great health care system, but the problems we have are due to not enough free market incentives, not too many of them.

As for those without insurance, the idea that they are left out in the cold is ridiculous. The poor and elderly in this country receive free medical care already through medicaid and medicare. You can't do much better than free.

If you are not poor, the key question is who should pay for your health insurance? With national health care, the assumption seems to be that the answer to that question is: "someone else."

The problem with this logic, however, is that the non-poor are, well, non-poor. They necessarily will be among the group of people who get stuck with the bill. The poor may also end up paying for this too, in the form of a value added tax (VAT) or some sort of national-sales tax that hits everyone.

I understand that health care isn't cheap. Middle class families have to sacrifice quite a bit for health care -- by doing without other things, working extra jobs, or taking a job that is not ideal because it comes with health care, for instance. What I don't understand is the notion that other people should sacrifice in order to pay for your family's health care. It seems to me that providing for our own families should be first and foremost, our own responsibility.

In the case of the poor, who lack options or ability to take care of themselves, the government needs to step in -- though I do think that even the poor should contribute something, if only to make the point that the service isn't free and to provide some sort of market incentive to hold cost down.

Hat tip for this story, Instapundit.

Saturday, May 30, 2009
I hate to beat a dead horse, but this Hot Air story about conservatism on the upswing in the Midwest is exactly what I am talking about.

Ostermeier’s data suggests that the way forward for Republicans isn’t to find people who will meekly acquiesce to Obama’s fiscal policies, but to find candidates willing and able to express and defend conservative principles. If every action produces an equal and opposite reaction, Obama’s radical restructuring of the American economy gives conservatives a great opportunity to take seats in Congress at the midterms.

No question, the Democrats were a great opposition party. Maybe the best ever. They were able to criticize Republicans from both the left and the right (does that make the GOP centrist?). The Republicans were stingy meanies, and they were letting the deficit get out of control. The Republicans were warmongers, and they were weak because they didn't want to invade Pakistan like Obama would. If only we tossed out the Republicans, we would eat rainbows and shit ice cream; the sky would rain gumdrops and Israelis would be at peace with Palestinians, the lion would lay down with the lamb and dogs and cats would live together.

Governing has proven much, much more difficult. Now, it turns out that GITMO is an "ideal" prison and our Obama loving allies in Europe are not all that keen on taking terrorists into their country. Enhanced interrogation is horrible torture that we will not ever do, but we reserve the right to use it if it's really, really important. Electronic surveillance is ok too. Spending trillions of taxpayer dollars isn't really the road to prosperity. Taking over the car companies and handing them over to the politicians and the unions isn't really working out.

Luckily, Obama is a regular guy who goes out on burger runs with his good buddy, Joe Biden. Hey, wasn't Biden Obama's first real important decision after winning the nomination? Good thing he didn't nominate an intellectual lightweight for Vice President like John McCain did -- what would we have done then?

CORRECTION: Obama's defense secretary didn't describe GITMO as "ideal." Rather, he called it the "finest prison in the world." I regret the error.

Friday, May 29, 2009
The Man in the Arena

Teddy Roosevelt's good advice notwithstanding, it isn't enough to be "in the arena." To many Beltway Republican "leaders," being part of the political process (and getting rich in the process) is an end in and of itself.

As Jonah Goldberg has noted, the Republican party is not a party of identity -- it is a party of ideas. When the ideas and principles are tossed aside, the party flounders.

Exhibit A:

Jonah Goldberg makes a good case for this argument in his recent column on NRO (emphasis added):

The conventional wisdom holds that conservatism is in trouble because the GOP is in trouble. But the two are not one and the same. Indeed, the GOP’s conservative principles aren’t necessarily the main reason for its unpopularity. Arguably, Republicans’ failure to adhere to their principles when in power hurt them more...

...The cliché is that politics is about “addition,” and the GOP needs to add more Hispanics, or gays, or women to its coalition, as if such descriptors define people more than their individual aspirations. Republicans will never win that fight, nor should they try to out-bean-count the Democrats. Persuasion should trump the pandering of “addition.” Conservatives must argue why they are right, not endlessly apologize for their alleged wrongs.

Dude, Where's My Tax Cut?

USA Today has an interesting story today that says the increased debt from this year's spending spree will come to about $55,000 per household. I'll just crack open the piggy bank. It's not like this will reduce our quality of life or anything.

Only two ways to pay for this: higher taxes or inflation, which is a hidden tax that devalues everyone's earnings, savings and investments. Faced with the choice of taking responsibility for their spending or printing money and imposing a hidden tax, I know which one I expect from our broken political class.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Man and his Wife had the good fortune to possess a Goose which laid a Golden Egg every day.

Lucky though they were, the man and his wife soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough.

Imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it in order to secure the whole store of precious metal at once.

But when they cut it open they found it was just like any other goose. Thus, they neither got rich all at once, as they had hoped, nor enjoyed any longer the daily addition to their wealth.

Much wants more and loses all

Capitalism, my friends, is the golden goose. We are the most prosperous nation that the world has ever seen. These riches have allowed us to devote untold time and resources toward the improvement of our quality of life.

It was American companies, in the pursuit of profit, that developed most of the world's life saving drugs and medical devices.

It was American companies, in the pursuit of profit, that developed the computer technologies that have revolutionized the way the world works, plays and communicates.

It is American companies and workers who, in the course of their pursuit of profit, pay the medical bills for millions of 49 million poor and elderly Americans (and hundreds of thousands of immigrants) on Medicaid and Medicare.

What happens when the bills for the Democrats' spending spree come due?

Much wants more and loses all.

"Moderate" Republican Approach is Bad Policy, Bad Politics

The Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) are berating Republicans for being too dogmatic and assert that the Republican party should follow the "moderate" path in order to reverse its fortunes.

Don't buy it.

We've been down this road before. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush was pressured by all the reasonable people to come to an agreement with congressional democrats on the budget. The Democrats demanded tax increases. Bush opposed them, but listened to the voices of reasonable moderates that the Republicans needed to meet the Democrats half-way. Bush agreed to the Democrats demand for tax increases and in return, the Democrats agreed to cut spending ($2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases, as I recall).

The result: a policy failure and political disaster. Democrats reneged on the spending cuts and the deficit continued to increase (See Crime of the Century, here). The tax increases slowed the economy and contributed to the 1992 recession. Even though it was Democrats who demanded the tax increases, and Democrats in Congress that refused to cut spending, it was Bush and Republicans who paid the political price for the tax increase and rising deficits.

Flash forward to George W. Bush's presidency. Bush was unquestionably a conservative foreign policy wise, and he didn't repeat his father's mistake on taxes, but domestic spending was a different story. As President, George W. Bush sought to be a "compassionate conservative," -- he didn't want to be branded a meanie like Newt and congressional Republicans. So Bush gave the moderate Republicans most everything they wanted budget-wise -- a huge new entitlement for seniors' prescription drugs, increased spending on education, health care, housing, transportation, earmarks up the wazzoo and a myriad of expensive new federal programs.

New federal spending and programs may be a lot of things. They may be good or bad. They may be necessary or unnecessary. Whatever they are, they just can't be described as part of a conservative agenda.

The result of Bush's moderate policies: the President was pilloried for (a) not spending quite enough on these programs and (b) not controlling the deficit.

Question: did Bush get any credit for crafting a bill with Ted Kennedy to get the federal government more involved in fixing the education system? Nope. In fact, Kennedy and the Democrats turned around and attacked Bush and No Child Left behind, even though Kennedy, the Democrats, and Republican moderates crafted the bill.

The fact is, the calls for Republicans to become more like Democrats are a political trap. The policies are bad. The politics is even worse. Democrats aren't looking for Republican help -- they are looking for cover. Democrats control all three branches of government. This is their baby. How is it working so far? The chart below gives us a good indication of where we go from here.

Anybody think this is going to work?

Of course not. And keep in mind that the Democrats refused to pass the Bush 2009 budget. Instead, they waited until Obama took office so they could get everything they wanted. The Democrats own these deficits.

What happens next is predictable. Welcome back Stagflation! Welcome back gas lines!

And President Obama's big plan for solving our problems: create a new entitlement for health care! Good luck with that.

Republicans would be insane to get on board this train as it goes off the cliff. Instead, we need to reassert the core conservative principle: shrink the size and scope of the federal government and reduce spending at all levels of government.

What are the two biggest examples of Republican success in the last 30 years? Reagan and Newt. What do they have in common? They understood that the Republican party needs to reject the moderate, "Democrat lite" agenda that is a slightly slower road to fiscal disaster.

I could be wrong, of course. It is possible that Chris Matthews and the folks at the Today Show and MSNBC are really concerned about the future of the Republican party and are trying their best to give our party the advice we need to defeat the Democrats in 2010. Of course, if you believe that, you may be one of the 95% of Americans still waiting for their tax cut.


If George HW Bush's 1990 budget agreement is exhibit A, and No Child Left Behind is exhibit B, and George W. Bush's domestic spending is exchibit C, here's two more for you:

Exhibit D: Domestic Drilling
George W. Bush pushed for conservative pro-energy policies, but was stopped time and time again by Republican moderates in the Senate who prevented efforts to expand domestic energy production, both offshore and at ANWR. Policy wise, a huge loser as it left us increasingly vulnerable to the price-shocks we saw in the summer of 2008. Politically, how did that work out for the party? Not so well. $3 a gallon gas is a loser -- as the Democrats will soon find out (of course, in their case, high gas prices are evidence their policies are working as intended!)

Exhibit E: Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain
Again, the media and Democrats have beaten the GOP up time and time again for not nominating moderate Republicans. If only the Republicans would nominate someone like McCain... was the refrain we heard in 2000 and 2004. Well, Republicans nominated McCain and, how much goodwill did that moderation buy him on the campaign trail? Zip. He became crazy John McCain the warmongering, racist dementia patient.

My take: there is zero upside to watering down our principles. I believe that our principles make for good policies and good politics. The way to victory is by making the case for conservatism and convincing people that our principles are the right ones. Reagan did it. Newt did it. In each case, they benefited from the clarity provided by out-of-control unified democratic majorities.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
New Long Term Plan for the RNC

Screw Michael Steele. This guy is thinking clearly about the future.

Key graph:

So as you hear from different pundits on what the Republicans need to do to regain power, remember that the key is that any workable idea must start with a realistic look at what challenges lie before us. That means it must account for radiation, killing each other over food and gasoline, flesh-eating mutants, ape-men, and deadly robots. It’s a hard reality to face, but it can be a good time for Republican gains if we’re prepared and properly armed. And if the ape-men and robots join forces, causing us to face cybernetic monkey-men, then let’s just say we better have found the next Reagan by then or we’re all done for.

Future presidential debates get tough!