Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Machiavelli Would be Smiling

Not only have the Democrats, for the sake of protecting the Affordable Care Act, refused to pass Republican bills that would fund the government and essentially end the shutdown (in point of fact, only 17% of the government is actually shut down), but they're now lustily criticizing Republicans for intransigence in raising the debt ceiling.

The debt ceiling puts an upper limit on how deeply in debt the United States can go and raising it will permit us to borrow more money and increase the already enormous national debt which will tie an economic ball and chain to the legs of today's young people and their children. The deeper our debt the more future generations will be taxed just to pay the interest on it. The more they are taxed the less of their paycheck they'll have to spend, and the less money they spend the fewer jobs there'll be. This means there'll be fewer taxpayers and that those who are lucky enough to have work will have to pony up even more of their income just to keep the country going.

This will be the legacy, largely, of the Obama administration but also, to a lesser extent, the Bush years.

The President had a good laugh line when he assured us with a straight face that raising the debt ceiling doesn't mean that the debt would go up. It's hard to imagine that he was serious. If we're not going to increase the debt why raise the ceiling?

Anyway, another amusing aspect of Democrats' demands that the Republicans raise the debt ceiling (so that we can borrow the money to pay our current obligations) is that when Bush wanted to raise the ceiling the Democrats howled about how irresponsible that would be. RNC chairman Reince Priebus reminds us of how irresponsible we were told Bush was being:
In 2006, when the national debt was less than half of what it is today (it's about $17 trillion today), then-senator Barack Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling. In 2007 he refused to vote altogether. The same was true for then-senator Joe Biden, who also voted against raising the debt ceiling in 1984, when the debt was just $1.6 trillion.

Said Biden in 1984, “I must express protest against continually increasing the debt without taking positive steps to slow its growth.” The debt today is ten times as large, but the administration opposes any “positive steps to slow its growth,” to quote our current vice president.

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” said Senator Obama five and a half years ago. Would he say the same thing today now that the debt has shot past $16.7 trillion? Would he admit his “leadership failure” to get spending under control?

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are no better. They both have voted against increasing the debt ceiling in the past when they didn’t get what they wanted. In 2006, Pelosi decried a “debt ceiling of $9 trillion” as too high. Where’s her concern today? In 2004 she argued, “We just can’t give a blank check over and over and over again to this administration.” Today, she’s eager to hand over that check to President Obama.

Not only are Democratic leaders revealing an unprincipled opportunism but they're also once again saying things that simply aren't true, but which may impress the gullible and uninformed.

The president has claimed that debt-ceiling increases have never “in the history of the United States” been accompanied by negotiations on other issues. Of course, that’s simply false. The president is either deliberately misleading the public or ignorant of history.

The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” gave the president’s claim “four Pinocchios,” saying that his statement doesn’t “stand up to scrutiny.” The congressional record shows that more than half of the increases in the debt limit have come alongside legislation dealing with other issues.
It's certainly regrettable that a lot of the people leading our country today seem to hold the view that whatever works is right. If principle, honesty, and consistency hinder them in the pursuit of goals they wish to achieve then so much the worse for principle, honesty, and consistency. What's right is whatever it takes to get the job done and if that means deceiving the people, if it means smearing your opponents, if it means blasting your opponents' policies and then turning around and doing the same thing to an even greater degree yourself, then if those measures work, they're justified and indeed obligatory. That's the advice dispensed by Niccolo Machiavelli, in his book The Prince six hundred years ago and it's where we are in our politics today.