We have entered the Age of Austerity. It's already arrived in Europe and is destined for the United States. Governments throughout Europe are cutting social spending and raising taxes -- or contemplating doing so. The welfare state and the bond market have collided, and the welfare state is in retreat. Even rich countries find the costs too high…
Clearly, most European nations waited too long to overhaul their welfare states. (The same is true of the United States.) The added costs of the global recession have now forced them to do the politically unthinkable: chop social spending and raise taxes in trying economic times. They have little choice, but it may be a mission impossible.
Last week, a friend, who is a Tea Party supporter, and I were talking about the election, and I suggested, “The real problem is how to repeal the New Deal.” Samuelson is a mainstream journalist and certainly not a “Tea Partier,” and he put the matter less bluntly than I. But I think his message is essentially the same.
A few weeks ago, I saw Paul Ryan, a rising star in the conservative wing of the GOP, on Charlie Rose’s show. Ryan explained very clearly the conception of the Founders that rights were innate to human beings, not privileges granted by government, and explained that the current idea of “entitlement rights” was not what the Founders had in mind. The Founders supported natural rights, essentially the right to be left alone to develop one’s abilities as one chose.
Then, Ryan went on to claim that the main mission of the GOP was to protect Social Security and Medicare!
The irony is of course that Social Security and Medicare are the primary examples of the “entitlement rights” Ryan had just so articulately criticized.
The problem really is how to repeal the New Deal, but I do not think the GOP has the guts even to attempt that task.
Don’t get me wrong: the Obama Administration needs to be sent a message, and only a tidal wave of defeats for the Democrats can send that message. Yes, it is time for a change.
But, no matter how big the tsunami of November 2, I doubt it will solve the basic problem: the onerously expensive, unsustainable, and unconstitutional welfare-warfare state that goes back to FDR. It is going to be a very long road to move forward to the ideas of Thomas Jefferson.
Now, for predictions: even though I am generally not an optimist when it comes to the outcome of the democratic process, I do love elections – I should’ve been a pollster.
I predict that the Republicans will pick up nine seats in the Senate. I’m assuming they will win the “Republican-leaning” toss-ups: Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, and West Virginia. I doubt the GOP can take Connecticut, even though Linda McMahon is a much more credible candidate than Blumenthal (who repeatedly lied about serving in Vietnam). And, I do not think Fiornia can take out Barbara Boxer out here in California, as happy as I would be to see Ms. Boxer enjoy her long-delayed retirement.
The real question mark is Washington: if Dino Rossi can beat Patty Murray, that should be enough for the GOP to take the Senate. And, the most recent polls show Rossi taking the lead.
It might happen.
I predict the GOP will pick up forty-five seats in the House of Representatives, enough to take control with six seats to spare.
And, one thing I am absolutely certain of: there will be some surprises on election day.
Incidentally, I find the Real Clear Politics site to be the best single place to follow the horse race and political commentary: RCP does a great job of summarizing the polls, and their links to pundits and commentators are more evenly divided among leftists, conservatives, and libertarians than the old, now dying, “mainstream” media.
For one single pundit who is the first in class in predicting elections, I recommend Charlie Cook
After the votes are counted, the pundits will tell us how this election is of earth-shaking importance. In fact, it will not turn things around: it has taken eighty years to dig ourselves into the hole FDR, and politicians of both parties, created for us, and it will take decades to dig ourselves out.
But perhaps this election can be a small beginning. So, get out and vote, and, if you have friends who are utterly clueless about the problems the country faces, encourage them to relax and stay home and ignore the election. Some people are not a plus to the democratic process.