Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Will Obama Be Worth It?

I have a friend who voted for Obama using the following logic:

  1. McCain would be a terrible president, leaving the conservative movement in disarray as people continue to confuse Republicans with conservatives. Hillary then gets elected and our collective pain gets stretched far into the future.
  2. Obama would be worse, but he would focus our thinking. The pain will be worth it. Carter gave us Reagan, after all.
Obama, in other words, is some sort of perverse medicine we need to take to crystallize our national thinking and banish collectivism forever into the intellectual wilderness.
Whether my friend was right remains an open question. About point one, there can be no doubt. While John McCain would not have been an O-style disaster, he would have been pretty bad, and since he's a Republican, people would have blamed - incorrectly - the conservative movement for the country's problems.

No doubt you know of this confusion. It's not unlike liberals saying, "You have no credibility criticizing Obama's spending because Bush spent a lot, too!"

Leaving aside the fact that Obama has ratcheted the problem to a whole new level, I don't know a single conservative who was pleased with Bush's spending habits, particularly with things like the prescription drug entitlement. But the public is frequently confused between the conservative movement and the Republican Party. That they grew far apart accounted for the birth of the Tea Party, a development that makes the Republican establishment highly dyspeptic.

So, there are reasons not to be too upset with the last election. The wrong Republican was nominated. Conservatism would have lost relevance for decades, potentially.

But will the damage be worth it? We can't know, at this point, but I grow increasingly optimistic that the answer will be yes - by a hair. I believe that in a year and a half the Republican party will control all the White House and both branches of Congress, and they will have a mandate for some long overdue, radical change. A new tax code. Entitlement reform. Repeal of the twin job-killing monsters Obamacare and Dodd-Frank. Big stuff, and much needed.

Whether Republicans will actually do these things is probably a bigger question than whether they will have the opportunity. This all depends on who moves into the White House.

Whether any of this will offset the incredible damage Obama has managed to inflict in a such a short period of time is still debatable. He is a wrecking ball. Can you imagine if the House hadn't shifted last year? We'd be dealing with things like cap & trade, too.

At least we have a definitive answer that Keynesianism doesn't work. Hopefully, that lesson, and all the others, will be internalized for at least a generation or two, at which point we'll be seduced into making the same mistakes all over again by some new group of charlatans.


  1. Scott ... Well said and we can only hope (and pray) that your all Republican prediction is realized.... You mention "New Tax Code". Are you a Fair Tax proponent or some other variety of tax code revision. I personally believe the Fair Tax alone (with repeal of the 16th amendment) would almost immediately set us on a path to economic and job recovery with businesses flocking to our shores for a piece of the No Business Income Tax pie ..... Cous Bob

  2. Bobbie-

    I'd be ecstatic if either the Fair Tax or a flat tax were implemented. Either would jump start the economy. If I could choose, I'd take the Fair Tax as it eliminates the IRS completely and creates maximum incentive to work. It would also be harder to corrupt later. Of course, the problem is implementation. Repealing the 16th amendment is no small matter, and its repeal is 100% necessary before instituting some kind of national sales tax. Can't leave two tax regimes in place for liberals to screw with later - that's Europe, in a nutshell.

    All this means that a flat tax is easier to implement (although also easier to corrupt later). Best way to accomplish implementation is to make it an option - i.e. you can opt in or, if you have precious deductions you want to hang on to, you could stick with our wretched current system. Idea here is that this would neuter potential opposition from all the special interests who don't want to lose the goodies they've carved out of the current code. Eventually, though, no one in their right minds would still be with the current system, and you could just scrap it. Might take five years.