Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

10
Jan

Pushing the Middle Class Over the Cliff

   Posted by: Robert Tags: ,

There’s no shortage of things to dislike about the way the Fiscal Cliff was “avoided” by the politicians in Washington.  Deferring talks about cutting spending, again, is one of the most prominent failures I can imagine.  The impotence of Republicans in winning even a single meaningful battle is an embarrassment to the party and to conservatism.  The fact that America’s real fiscal disaster looms as large as ever, even as we pat ourselves on the back for fixing a so-called disaster that we specifically engineered for our political theatre, is inescapable.  But perhaps the greatest thorn in my side as I consider everything that went wrong with the Fiscal Cliff “solution” is the restoration of Social Security taxes to their level three years ago.

In the media and in political discussions, the battle over the Fiscal Cliff was played out in a world foreign to most Americans.  The debate on the table was largely about taxes on the “rich,” meaning people who have incomes significantly higher than most of us are likely to achieve.  The political battle over the definition of “rich” (is it $250k?  $400k?  $1 million?) happened way over the heads of most Americans, since most of us don’t live in households with six figure incomes.  Of course, this focus on “the richest of the rich”, “the 1%”, or whatever you want to call them was entirely the point.  As the rhetoric went, “they have more money than they need, they aren’t you, so screw them.”  And so we did.

But even as Republicans celebrate passing a permanent tax cut for the middle class — a “tax cut” which merely makes “permanent” the “temporary” tax rates that had lasted more than a decade — most Americans won’t see a tax cut when they open their next pay stub.  In fact, everyone who gets a pay stub will see a tax increase, thanks to the two year old Social Security tax “holiday” being allowed to expire.  When a tax cut causes taxes to go up, you know something is broken.

Welcome to America.

That Republicans would fail to protect the lowered Social Security tax rate is hardly a surprise.  Republicans, despite being the party of lower taxes, have opposed the lowered rate from the very beginning.  Republicans cited the already weak condition of Social Security which would be weakened further by the tax cut.  In practical terms, the tax holiday likely did very little to inspire job creation, because employers had to spend the same amount of money anyway; it was just allocated differently between employees and the government.  Nevertheless, outside the topsy-turvey world of Washington, the tax “holiday” was a tax cut, and its expiration is now a tax increase.

Of course, raising Social Security taxes does precious little good for anybody.  Social Security was going broke before the tax holiday and will continue going broke after.  With discussions of actually fixing Social Security in a state of perpetual deferral, Republican “problem solvers” have failed to solve any problem that needs solving.  And while Republicans seem institutionally incapable of understanding why people vote for them, things like this will do nothing but help drive away those very voters.

Republicans could make great strides if they stopped looking at taxes through the lens of Washington and started looking at them the way the people do.  If I look at my pay stub and the number for me is higher while the number for the government is lower, that’s a tax cut.  If my number is lower and the government’s is higher, that’s a tax increase.  A tax cut that goes away — it doesn’t matter how or why — makes my number go down and theirs go up, which means it’s a tax increase.  Making a “temporary” tax cut “permanent” is utterly meaningless, because the numbers don’t change.  And of course, there’s no such thing as a permanent tax cut anyway, because the government can always just raise taxes again.

But no, Republicans think like Democrats and live in a world where words don’t mean what they mean.  And all of us whose paychecks got smaller now have to suffer for it.

7
Jan

Income Taxes as Class Protections

   Posted by: Robert Tags: , ,

In the buildup to the “resolution” of the Fiscal Cliff, there was a great deal of discussion about the effects of tax rates on the American economy.  For Democrats, the magic word was “revenue”, meaning how much more money the government could take from the hands of the private sector.  For Republicans, the magic word was “jobs”, meaning what that money meant to the entrepreneurs who need help to maintain and grow their businesses.  There was a great deal of talk about the “rich” needing to “pay their fair share,” and the plight of the middle class who are perpetually caught between government welfare programs and self-sufficient wealth.  But amidst the flurry of frequently repeated words, one comment caught my ear which I only heard once, but which struck me as so powerful as to be the most important thought in the entire debate.  Those taxes tied to high incomes are classist and serve as a means to insulate the “rich” from upwardly mobile Americans.

The key to understanding the classism of taxes is to understand what it means to be rich in America.  Our political discourse treats “the rich” as a single group of people with access to far more money than any “ordinary” person could ever hope to gain.  In reality, there are at least two different groups of “rich” in America with different profiles and different concerns.

Classic examples of “rich” people in America include Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and the Kennedy family.  Those people, and others like them, are rich in the sense that they have accumulated a great deal of wealth which they hold independently of any other productive activity in which they may be engaged.  In other words, their bank accounts are overflowing and would continue to do so even if they never worked another day in their lives.  So too with the other wealthy people who have come out in favor of high taxes on the “rich”.  While these people have piles of cash, it isn’t their income today that makes them wealthy.

The other group of “rich” people in America are a lot of people that we might not normally consider.  While everyone knows that doctors and lawyers make tons of money, they mostly aren’t the people we think of as being among “the rich”.  Neither is the small business owner who can certainly earn a good living.  Indeed, as any Jane Austen novel can attest, the professional class of doctors, lawyers, and business owners is distinct and different from the gentry or aristocracy.  In America, where money and class are intimately related, professionals (especially business owners) have the ability to jump into the higher classes if only they are able to accumulate enough wealth.  Ultimately, though, these are people who still need to be able to generate income in order to better their lives.

Seen in that way, consider the effect of raising income taxes on people with incomes over some arbitrary amount.  For people already in the higher class, this won’t affect them very much because their incomes are rather beside the point — Bill Gates will still be a billionaire even if the government doesn’t let him earn another cent.  However, for people striving to earn their first billion dollars, a tax powered income cap of $400,000 would force them to wait over two thousand years before having that first celebration — assuming they never spend any money on anything.  Even at more modest tax rates, higher taxes still impose barriers to entry which will reduce the number of people willing or able to move into the higher class.

A tax based on income is a real barrier to upward mobility particularly for people (such as minorities) who don’t come from a background of privilege.  Earning wealth in America already requires a commitment to saving (and an ability to save) plus a knowledge of investing (and an ability to invest) which tends not to exist (and may not be possible) among the lower classes.  As taxes become more confiscatory, and as the tax code makes shielding wealth from taxation more difficult, the level of knowledge required to succeed becomes ever greater.  A person escaping from poverty will need to rely more on strangers for help and support, and so will be more susceptible to bad advice whether given honestly or by people trying to take advantage.

Historically, the upper classes have gone to great lengths to maintain their status above the people in the classes below.  Rules of society, the privilege of money, and even armed conflict have all been employed to protect “old money” from new.  But I am aware of no other time in history when the rich, by appearing to harm themselves, have so successfully won popular support for their own class protection.  While everyone focuses on the people who have already become rich, it is the people who are most successfully trying to get there who will experience the greatest harm.

Far be it from me to say that the rich in America — a class which includes most politicians — is trying intentionally to structure the tax code to prevent other Americans from intruding into their class.  But like any other identityism, classism need not be intentional to be real.  The fact remains that raising taxes on higher income earners imposes barriers to upward mobility which will tend to further separate the rich from the people who are trying to get there.

High taxes on the rich are classist; not against the “rich”, but the “poor”.

20
Dec

Hispanics for Border Security?

   Posted by: Robert

As I was performing research for a future post, I happened to come across some poll results posted at Resurgent Republic which includes some data which, if true, comes across to me as surprising.  Included in the poll results was this table showing Hispanic support for various policies regarding immigration.  As might be expected, many of the supported policies include suggestions for removing the illegal status from people who have come to the US, or who plan to come to the US, without going through the current immigration process.  One of the higher ranked policies, however, is “increasing border security,” although such an increase is apparently not desirable if it comes in the form of “aggressive steps to seek and deport undocumented immigrants.”  What on earth does that mean?

One possibility, backed up somewhat by a Pew Research poll, is that the approval of increased border security reflects the presumptive acceptance of a compromise in which immigration policy is made easier, but is then enforced according to its terms.  Says Pew, “Some 46% of Latinos and 43% of the general public say both better border security and enforcement and a path to citizenship should be given equal priority when it comes to dealing with illegal immigration.”  Indeed, such a compromise is a common theme in many of the comprehensive immigration reform proposals I’ve heard come and go for the past several years.  It’s a compromise that makes a lot of sense on paper, but which conservatives rightly resist due to the near certainty that promises of stronger enforcement will not be kept.

Another, more cynical possibility is that tighter border security is seen as  a way to protect the current batch of immigrants from future immigration.  I haven’t seen any data suggesting this understanding, although it does have a certain logic.  Hispanics who are in the country legally — even those who have been here for generations — are harmed somewhat by illegal immigration.  Political rhetoric focuses on Hispanic people who are in the country illegally and tends to neglect people who have immigrated legally or who are citizens born and raised here as Americans.  Even Democrats — who are seldom charged with racial insensitivity — spend most of their time talking about people who are in violation of the law but deserve a second chance, and very little time talking about people who have broken no laws at all.  This paints a black cloud over the legal Hispanic population which certainly does them no favors.

If there is a sincerity behind Hispanic interest in increasing border security, then Resurgent Republic is right in thinking that the border security issue may ultimately bode well for Republicans.  It seems, however, that there is a great deal more context which needs to be considered and which tends to undercut the potential for conservative benefit.  Either way, the idea that Hispanics would support greater border security at all falls well outside the usual political discourse.  If that result is real, it’s certainly something worth pondering.

13
Dec

Money, Peace, and Freedom

   Posted by: Robert Tags:

Continuing to ponder my colleague’s comments about the Republican and Democrat parties, his statement that Republicans are about money and Democrats are about peace raises an important point about the current state of political messaging.  In short, it sucks.  My colleague identifies as a Libertarian, which means that he has placed himself off of the Republican/Democrat political spectrum.  Since that doesn’t happen entirely by accident, I’m comfortable assuming that he has put at least some independent thought into the parties and his own position.  Even with that, he still comes up with money (R) and peace (D).  That fact does not bode well for conservatives.

When considered objectively, the stated associations are difficult to reconcile with reality.  Democrats currently make up seven of the top ten wealthiest members of Congress and are well represented at the CEO level in many Fortune 500 companies.  Entertainers, many of whom are no strangers to wealth, also skew heavily Democrat.  Meanwhile, even as President Obama is winning accolades for withdrawing the military from Iraq and Afghanistan, the level of tension and violence in the Middle East has grown significantly without the stabilizing influence of the United States.  We have experienced more acts of terror committed against us under President Obama than we did under President Bush, and programs like Fast and Furious have contributed significantly to violence very close to home.  Republicans hold no monopoly on money, nor do Democrats have any particular claim to having made the world more peaceful.

For my part, I consider the Republicans to be the party of compromise and the Democrats to be the party of theft.

Republicans are the party of compromise in both flattering and unflattering ways.  On the positive side, Republicans have a willingness to listen to different or opposing ideas and find ways to incorporate some of those ideas into their policies.  At its best, this helps to build a broader base of support for policies which support Republican objectives, even if Republicans may not get to go as far as they would like or have to accept some policies which cut against their ideals.  On the negative side, Republicans have a tendency to give away their ideals in a futile attempt to avoid being attacked by the liberal media.  While Republicans couch these giveaways in terms of positive compromise, what usually happens is that they end up compromised because the left doesn’t stop until they get everything that they want.  In such a world Republicans get nothing lasting in return.

I consider Democrats to be the party of theft for all of the obvious reasons.  As supporters of wealth redistribution, their policies end up being systematic forms of theft.  Their environmental policies, land policies, and mountains of regulation all act to take value.  Democrats are also well known to use thethreat of policy changes as a stick in negotiations, threatening to regulate an opponent to death unless their opponent behaves in the right way.  In the private sector, such a practice would commonly be known as extortion.

For Republicans, fighting off the image of both money and compromise seems crucial toward improving the way the party is perceived.  Frustratingly, Republicans are only seen as the party of compromise by those on the right, who have witnessed time and again the supposedly conservative party giving away conservative principles for slightly less awful press coverage.  Where Republicans found the most energy was during the height of Tea Party activism, when Republicans were acknowledged (if only grudgingly) as the party of responsibility.  Responsibility won huge inroads in 2010 and continued to be a great strength in 2012, despite the 2012 election being decided on other grounds and despite a seemingly concerted effort by Republicans to appear as irresponsible as possible.

Whatever word is ultimately chosen, it’s clear to me that neither “money” nor “compromise” are going to win elections.  Responsibility can, but that label requires Republicans to act the part.  Of course, whatever word is chosen, Republicans will certainly need to work to bypass the mainstream media in promoting their image.  To work within the media framework does nothing but make them the party of stupid.

6
Dec

The Anti-Conservative Blame Game

   Posted by: Robert Tags:

There’s apparently a lot of press going around discussing who will take the blame if the country falls off of the “fiscal cliff” being discussed currently in Congress.  The reporting, it seems, says that it will be Republicans who get blamed despite the fact that Democrats control both the Senate and the White House.  There’s apparently even a poll saying that the people will blame Republicans.  None of this should be surprising when you consider that Republicans were blamed for obstructionism even when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House.  Also unsurprising is the Republican response, moving to the left to try to avoid taking the blame.

When will the Republicans learn that they are going to be blamed for something no matter what they do?

Following the 2008 election, conservatives had staked out some relatively straight forward and common sense positions on how to manage government finances.  Republican proposals have been consistent about two major topics which remain the subject of much debate.  Republican proposals are intended to reduce spending and to raise government revenue.  Importantly, however, when Republicans say “revenue” they actually mean “revenue”, in contrast to Democrats who say “revenue” but mean “tax rates.”  The Republican plans were designed to ensure that more people have jobs and that more people got pay raises.  Without lowering the tax bar at all, more people would end up paying taxes because more people would have more income.

Republicans won big on the economy in 2010 and in 2012.

Republicans seem to have taken the 2012 election as a general repudiation of all things conservative.  Reality, though, is that that’s not what happened.  Among people whose top issue in the 2012 election was the economy, Romney beat Obama nationally by a relatively wide margin.  The economy has been a core issue — the core issue — for Republicans ever since Obama first took office and they have carried the day on that message consistently, despite media hostility, ever since.  Where Republicans failed in 2012 was in not realizing that the presidency is about more than just the economy.  If it were, Romney would be the President-Elect right now.

“If we’re going to be damned, let’s be damned for what we really are.”

For conservatives, those words from Captain Jean-Luc Picard should never ring more true than they do today.  The risk of being blamed for something shouldn’t deter conservatives from doing anything at all.  The reality is that it’s not a risk that our side will be blamed — it’s a certainty.  If we oppose the Democrats, we’ll be blamed for getting in the way of Obama’s economic plans.  If we go along with the Democrats, we’ll be blamed when their economic plans succeed in further destroying the economy.  If we pursue compromise with the Democrats, we’ll be blamedfor both.

Given that there’s no upside to playing along, it should be obvious that there’s no downside to playing against the Democrats’ wishes.  The outcome for us is the same either way, the only difference is in a few minor details.  However, the outcome for everyone else could be drastic.  By staying true to conservative economic principles, Republicans could calm an increasingly listless base.  What’s more, staying true to our principles would let us actually help people, regardless of whether we get credit for it or not.  And if by some chance our ideas truly are awful, at least we can say that we’ve done something for which blame is warranted, we can find new ideas, and we can move on.

Being blamed by the left is part of being conservative.  It’s time we got used to it, and stopped caring.

7
Nov

2012 is Over, and Here We Are Again

   Posted by: Robert Tags: ,

Four years later and and once again Republicans fall in defeat.  The good news is that this should be the last time either Obama or Romney appear on the Presidential ballot, and this should be Obama’s last election victory ever.  There are plenty of platitudes about how this isn’t as bad as it may feel and how conservatives should push forward as we always do: Chin up and confident in our beliefs.  But let’s face it, what we’re doing isn’t working.  It’s time to take a look at what’s happening and draw some lessons for change.

It’s clear now that class warfare, divide and conquer politics works.  What’s less clear is which divisions are actually important.  My sense of the election is that it wasn’t about wealth, despite the Democrats’ attempt to paint Romney as rich and out of touch.  The more important divisions, I think, are social rather than economic.  Republicans have been successfully branded as a party exclusive to white, Christian, middle aged males, but there simply aren’t enough of those around to carry an election to office.  It’s time for conservatives to reach out to other groups and find ways to address their particular problems in ways that are consistent with conservative principles, but which don’t rely on forms of privilege which may not be quite as irrelevant as conservatives would like to believe.

Equally clear is that Republican messaging needs an upgrade to the 21st century.  Republicans were caught flat footed in 2008 by the rise of the Internet and the then-new social media.  Romney and Ryan were competent this time, but competency isn’t enough.  Republicans need to dominate the “new media” not just as a platform for getting out their message to voters (although they absolutely must do that), but as a tool for truly connecting with voters in order to earn their trust.  New media will only become more important with time and conservatives need to get in the lead or risk losing yet one more communication platform to the left.

Even more fundamentally, however, is the need for conservatives develop a narrative for their role in America.  A narrative goes beyond policy positions or even guiding principles; it tells the story of what conservatism brings to the trajectory of American history.  The narrative for liberalism is “the march of equality and civil rights.”  I have no idea what the conservative narrative might be, but finding one is going to be crucial for achieving the broader social changes necessary to make conservatism viable further into the future.

The Tea Party won huge gains in 2010 by focusing on taxes and economic policy while allowing most other issues to fall by the wayside.  Romney, I think wisely, did much the same in his bid to win the White House.  Economics alone clearly aren’t enough.  It’s time for conservatives to look outside themselves for a broader audience, and do everything possible to take control of their message, if there is to be any hope at all.

15
Jul

One More Myth about the Debt Celing Disaster

   Posted by: Robert

I was recently linked to an article written by John Lott seeking to bust certain myths being talked about in the media regarding the debt ceiling.  His article, overall, accomplishes the goal he sets out to accomplish.  In busting his first myth, he tells us that “The 14th Amendment to the Constitution requires that the debt payments come first before any other spending,” and continues that logic through at least one more myth.  Unfortunately, the 14th Amendment says no such thing.

What the 14th Amendment says is that “The validity of the public debt … shall not be questioned.”  By their plain meaning, these words say nothing about the debt ceiling (which didn’t even exist at the time) or how the country’s debts will be paid.  They say only that the validity of the debt shall not be questioned.

To explain what those words mean, consider an analogy.  An American family with a mortgage and credit cards has used tools of debt to build up a lifestyle at the edge of — or beyond — their financial means.  The charges are accurate: the student loans covered earning a degree; the mortgage bought a house; and the credit card bought furniture, electronics, other items, and maybe even a utility bill or two.  Out of cash, and with credit cards at their limit, the family receives a bill in the mail.  The family now has a “crisis” to work through:  How do they handle the bills?

One choice that the family has is to pay some bills right away and put off others until later.  Another choice is to find new sources of debt to cover the bills.  Yet a third choice would be to throw the bills in the trash and, when the bill collectors call, tell them you don’t actually owe that money for some reason or other.

The 14th Amendment takes Option 3 off the table, but leaves the other two alone.

The Public Debt Clause was written at a time when the country had just amassed what was then a significant amount of public debt.  The Clause was written to provide certainty as to how the government would manage those obligations.  What it said is that the United States would not tear up its bills.

But other than telling its creditors to pound sand, the government can do nearly anything it wants with its debt.  A great many proposals have already made their way into the debate, some of which are more fact based than others.  Unfortunately for the author, thinking that the Constitution has already solved the problem falls squarely into the “others” category.  Our looming “disaster” will have no such easy answer.

25
Apr

New Home for Moonbats

   Posted by: Robert

I wonder how much money could be shaved off of the national debt if our members of Congress would quit wasting paper on ridiculous things.  Or, for those more environmentally oriented, how many trees could be saved.  Whatever your viewpoint, it”d sure be nice if we didn’t have to waste congressional record with things like this:

the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall plan to return to the Moon by 2022 and develop a sustained human presence on the Moon, in order to promote exploration, commerce, science, and United States preeminence in space as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations. The budget requests and expenditures of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall be consistent with achieving this goal.

So if I’ve got this right, our national debt is spiraling out of control, and Representatives Mr. Posey(R-FL), Ms. Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Mr. Wolf (R-VA), Mr. Bishop (R-UT), and Mr. Olson (R-TX) want to build a moon base.  Maybe we could just think of it as taking our grandkids’ money to build them the Most Awesome Tree House Ever.

Of course, in reality, a moon base could be a decent investment for our country.  If Mr. Posey, Ms. Jackson-Lee, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Bishop, and Mr. Olson all took a dozen or so of their colleagues with them, we might end up with a higher percentage of legislators who actually care about solving the nation’s problems, rather than just wasting the nation’s time.

16
Apr

Obama Signing Statement Wrong About Advisors

   Posted by: Robert

News is picking up today of the signing statement issued by President Obama in regard to his signature of the appropriations bill passed after much congressional debate.  The statement, posted on the White House website, contains an interesting declaration in which Obama makes clear his intention to continue paying his czars despite Congress declaring otherwise.  Without saying it directly, the President intimates that keeping his czars off the payroll would be a violation of the Constitution.  He is perfectly mistaken.

In his statement, President Obama writes:

Section 2262 of the Act would prohibit the use of funds for several positions that involve providing advice directly to the President.  The President has well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch, and to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority.  The President also has the prerogative to obtain advice that will assist him in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities, and do so not only from executive branch officials and employees outside the White House, but also from advisers within it.

Legislative efforts that significantly impede the President’s ability to exercise his supervisory and coordinating authorities or to obtain the views of the appropriate senior advisers violate the separation of powers by undermining the President’s ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.  Therefore, the executive branch will construe section 2262 not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives.

Sadly, much of this statement is misleading or false.

To begin with what is true, the President is right that he has a “well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch.”  That is, of course, his primary job.  He is also correct that he has the authority “to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority.”  Indeed, the Constitution guarantees that the President “may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments.”

The sleight of hand Obama then tries to perform is to blend the line between “officer” and “advisor”.  Under the Constitution, an “Officer[] of the United States” is an individual who has been appointed “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.”  In other words, the President has the right to get advice from his cabinet.  However, it is not the cabinet that is at issue in this legislation, and the President’s attempt to lump the people targeted by the provision in with his cabinet is disingenuous.

Section 2262 of HR 1473 reads:

None of the funds made available by this division may be used to pay the salaries and expenses for the following positions:

(1) Director, White House Office of Health Reform.
(2) Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.
(3) Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy.
(4) White House Director of Urban Affairs.

None of the positions listed have gone through the confirmation process.  They are, by definition, not “Officers of the United States.”  Their jobs are nowhere guaranteed by the Constitution, nor is their pay.  The President has no right, under the Constitution, to their advice.

The President, of course, is free to consult with whomever he chooses, including with the four individuals listed in HR 1473.  The taxpayers, however, have no obligation to pay for the advice the President receives.  Those four individuals are more than welcome to continue advising the President for free, and Obama is certainly welcome to pay them out of his own pocket.  But it is no longer permissible for those individuals to receive compensation for salary or expenses from the US Treasury; and the President is wrong if he believes otherwise.

4
Jan

The Great Obamacare Waiver Vote

   Posted by: Robert Tags:

The news has been getting around this week that the Republican controlled House of Representatives is planning to introduce a bill to repeal Obamacare.  Getting rid of Obama’s health care regime is, of course, one of the main issues on which conservatives campaigned this past year and is, quite appropriately, a top issue for incoming Republicans.  I hope that the bill attracts every Republican and as many Democrats as possible.  That said, I don’t believe the repeal bill should have been introduced.

Current circumstances in government — which the liberal media won’t let us forget — are that Democrats control the Senate and the White House.  Even if the vote in the House of Representatives is unanimous, the Senate can still simply vote down the legislation or fail to vote on it at all, and President Obama is sure to veto anything that somehow manages to get as far as his desk.  Republicans haven’t got enough power to overturn a veto in either the House or the Senate.  Put it all together, and the chance that any Obamacare repeal actually happen is effectively zero.

So, why introduce the bill now?

Political cover:  Voting for the repeal right now gives legislators an opportunity to bolster their conservative credentials without actually doing anything.  This bill is excellent for liberal Republicans (and moderate Democrats) who need to bolster their conservative credentials but don’t want to risk actually pulling the law to the right.

For conservatives, however, it’s results that matter, and this bill at this time promises none.

When the only possible benefit is to the voting record of moderate leftists, I can’t help but feel like the American people are being set up.  Come next election, I’m sure we’ll see politicians who voted repeatedly to expand government power and further soak the tax paying public in red ink will be on the airwaves patting themselves on the back for having taken a stand with their vote against Obamacare.  They will do what they can to become indistinguishable from the true conservatives, and this vote will loom large in the picture they’ll paint.

And then, what happens two years from now?  “We tried to repeal Obamacare once, but it went nowhere.  Oh well.  Sorry.”  If they say anything at all.

With no chance of actual success, the upcoming vote on repealing Obamacare is nothing more than symbolic.  It looks good, and is sure to please the conservative electorate who came out in November hoping for just such a repeal, but the only people who benefit are leftists.   The goal for now, which I think the people understand, should be to defund Obamacare immediately and save the repeal until the voters can create a true conservative majority 2012.