Budget Deficits

Winning the Next Generation

It looks like the Republicans will be winning back many seats in Congress this fall. Here’s how: by screwing up horribly during the Bush years, they gave the Democrats an overwhelming victory in 2008, leading to great hubris. Americans love punishing hubris during midterm elections.

This is not a winning strategy.

Giving the other side rope to hang itself on can make it lose elections, even in Massachusetts, but in the process you leave a lot of rope lying around. Even if Republicans gain a majority in both houses as a mandate to repeal Obamacare, will they be able to fulfill this mandate? Not without a 2/3 majority in both houses they can’t. If you are just trying to rack up a bunch of R victories, this strategy may work, but if you are a conservative or conservative-libertarian, this is a path to incremental disaster. After the damage has been done, you don’t need conservatives, you need reactionaries. Reactionaries are even harder to get into office.

The Republican Party needs to evolve it wants to have a future. If it wants to rule again, it needs to concern itself with America’s future.

For starters, how about coming up with a credible plan to stop global warming? The no-nothing line popular among Limbaugh listeners may play well to selfish geezers, but it doesn’t work so well for the younger generations -- those who may still be alive to experience the effectives of future significant climate change. It doesn’t play so well to the not-so-selfish senior citizens who worry about the fate of their grandchildren either.

Yes, I know that the magnitude of future warming is quite uncertain. Someone might come up with cheap carbon free energy alternatives long before global warming becomes a real problem without any government action whatsoever. It’s also possible that the Soviet Union might have collapsed without the Reagan arms buildup and covert actions. But aren’t you glad we had Ronnie? Guess what: today’s Republicans are to the global warming threat what Jimmy Carter was the Soviet threat.

This doesn’t mean the Republican Party should run yet more RINOs, offering a lite version of the current liberal prescriptions. We don’t need to micromanage our way out of the fossil fuel economy. We need to make use of the market. We need a carbon tax. Jack up the price of burning fossil fuels, and the market will find the optimum way to burn less. And if global warming turns out to be a false alarm, we will have saved the earth’s limited supply of cheap fossil fuels for future generations. We will have also taxed our enemies. Radical Islam is funded heavily by the Saudis; put a hefty tariff on imported oil and they will have to either give up on funding fanatic indoctrination centers or take up a Spartan lifestyle themselves. We can justify a foreign oil tariff simply to pay for the Iraq war and keeping the Persian Gulf open.

We could use the proceeds of a carbon tax to get rid of a more heinous tax. A carbon tax would be an order of magnitude simpler than either the Flat Tax or the Fair Tax. Or we could use it to balance the federal budget. Those concerned about America’s financial future worry about the deficit. The Tea Party movement isn’t just conservatives; it’s also the remnants of the old Perot coalition. Don’t take them for granted. While Obama looks bad on the deficit today, he could manage a turnaround before 2012. Remember, the last president to preside over a balanced budget was Clinton.

Bush squandered the surplus. The Perot voters might well remember that fact. Don’t be overconfident.

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