Conservative talk radio is already abuzz about the 2010 mid-term elections. The hope is that Barack Obama is self-destructing, and a massive wave of discontent will lead to a great victory for the Republicans. Hopes are often dashed, but let’s assume the Republicans do sweep into Congress in 2010. Then what?
Here’s what: there will be more borrowing and spending. There will be the requisite complaining about the borrowing and spending to mollify the conservative base, but much of that base doesn’t really want entitlements cut any more than the rest of the electorate. Entitlement spending is the main reason why the tsunami is coming, but politicians don’t get elected by promising to cut such spending. Voters may congratulate politicians for straight talk about the coming insolvency, so long as it stays talk. Politicians know they’ll get safer mileage out of focusing on inconsequential discretionary spending and abstractions such as “We need to get our fiscal house in order!”
I’m all for driving a stake into Obamacare, but politicians who aren’t seeking to drastically cut entitlement spending are part of the problem because entitlement spending is the problem. In other words, all but a handful of Congressmen are part of the problem. That includes the conservative flavor of the week: Congressman Joe “You lie!” Wilson. It’s noteworthy that Rep. Wilson voted for Bush’s prescription drug entitlement, which now has liabilities exceeding $16 trillion. He voted for the September 2008 bank bailout, too.
The Republicans are using Obama’s dissembling about Medicare rationing against him. Do you think Republicans are going to turn around and push their own cuts to a Medicare Ponzi scheme that is $70+ trillion in the hole and well on its way to collapse? Are you kidding me? They aren’t going to touch it with a ten-foot pole. They know that people who hang around for an explosion tend to get blown up. (The idea that the government will move toward fiscal soundness before the collapse is as laughable as Barack Obama’s fondness of using the excuse that he inherited a economic crisis, as if he would’ve acted more fiscally responsible than George W. Bush. Who was that former senator from Illinois pushing for all that big government? It must have been the current president’s evil twin.)
Voters won’t accept that their entitlement programs are hosed until they’re actually hosed in the coming tsunami. Most of them contributed payroll taxes, and as the masterful and reprehensible FDR once said, “no d*** politician can ever scrap” such entitlements, even if they were a fraud from the beginning (which they were) and the money was spent long ago (which it was).
Republicans are often better than Democrats on key issues like gun rights and abortion funding, even if at best they tend to just maintain the status quo. However, unless the tsunami has already hit, the 2010 election won’t propel meaningful economic change, nor will it remove the inevitability of the tsunami… even if the Republicans win every contested seat in Congress.