Filibuster Notes

As this is written, Ted Cruz is still filibustering. 

A couple of observations. 

On the one hand, a friend of mine – a disaffected Republican and Ron Paul supporter – snarked something like “Hey, Ted Cruz is filibustering Obamacare!  Western Civilization will be saved!  Oh, wait – no, we’re still screwed”. 

So let me get this straight; when some people launch quixotic grandstanding windmill-tilts against big government, taxation, spending and creeping statism, it’s a statement of rock-solid principle, but when others do it for the same reasons, it’s snark-fodder? 

I’ll have to chew on that one for a while.

Grandstanding:  As Michael Medved pointed out yesterday, the filibuster is, tactically, pointless.  The Senate – and its majority of Democrats – will support the President.  Period. 

Politically?  Medved among others also had a point:  Obama wants the government to shut down.  He benefits when he (and a compliant media) can pin pain on smaller government.  And while the sequester was a complete squib for him, a shutdown would provide an endless parade of calumny for the media, his Praetorian Guard, to force-feed the “for the children” voter segment. 

And that’s not the only reason a shutdown benefits Obama.

The Great Diversion:  Think about it.  Obama’s been in office almost five years.  What does he have to show for it?

  • An economy that is creating nothing but part-time jobs (unlike all previous recoveries – a sort of economic,ex post facto”Berg’s Seventh Law”).
  • Thousands of American guns sent across the border to the narcotraficantes, resulting in the deaths of American cops and Mexican children.
  • Four Americans dead in a terrorist attack, who had the misfortune to be attacked in a place that apprently was serving as a hand-off point for a black-bag weapons-smuggling operation sending arms to a movement that is rapidly being taken over by Al Quaeda – leading to a year worth of stonewalling that looks more and more like a coverup.
  • The Middle East is in worse shape than it’s been since the 80s, and our stature in the world has shrunk since Dubya left office.
  • And a bold trip to where even Nixon never went; the Obama Administration appears to have used the IRS to stifle conservative political dissent.

And even if you get all of those out of the way, what is Obama left with?  Obamacare – a law with some popular provisions that needed to happen via one mechanism or another (portability, dealing with pre-existing conditions) but is, as a package, about as popular as mandatory ice-water enemas. 

What would better serve Obama’s purposes than to divert attention away from everything he and his Administration have done?

A government shutdown, I suspect, strikes this blog’s audience (as it does me) at first blush as a great idea.  But it plays right into Obama’s hands.

So Cruz should stop filibustering and take a nap – right?

But Not So Fast:  As we  noted earlier this morning, Americans are fundamentally conservative.  They don’t identify with the GOP at the moment – at least in part because the mainstream GOP, the Beltway GOP of the consultants, doesn’t reflect the conservative principals that Americans support. 

And they didn’t last year – which was why conservatives stayed home on election day, handing another term to Obama.

The Tea Party wave of 2010 went back underground. 

But it’s still out there.  The Gallup and Rasmussen polls show it. 

And while Ted Cruz’ filibuster isn’t going to defund Obamacare, and it’d probably be a very bad idea to let it shut down the government, it could be – if the GOP is smart enough, and I have doubts about that – a key step toward doing something that all of the GOP consultants in the Beltway can’t do and don’t really want to; mobilize the vast unwashed base of Tea Party conservatives, people who don’t like to identify as Republicans  but see perfectly well that Obama and our idiot Congress have us on the road to Palookaville.

23 thoughts on “Filibuster Notes

  1. Speaking of Tea Part wave…and I am relatively new to the Tea Parrty thing with respect to active participation…but when I started attending meetings of the North Metro Tea Party Patriots it was the only group of it’s kind in the area (luckily I live in the north metro) and it was outgrowing the facility which it was allowed to utilize.

    Now there are at least three more of these groups formed around the metro area within the last couple years.

    Back underground?

  2. Part of me says, “Good for Cruz. At least he’s doing something.” But isn’t that the mantra of the ant-gunners?

    Another part says, “What will it accomplish? What will voters think? Was it smart?” But that’s what the mainstream republicans seem to say everytime an action plan isn’t tattood on their forehead.

    The last part of me said, “Boy, old ‘Maverick’ McCain is sure flustered by this and the mainstream republicans were really trying to sandbag Cruz this weekend. Could what he did be that bad?”

    I think I had a classic battle of id, ego, and superego. I still haven’t identified which was which yet, but I’m pretty partial to the last one …

  3. Night Writer … That was my sense, too. McCain’s approval is not an indication of conservative political wisdom. Don’t see why Harry’s upset. His party was all gooey over some Texas lady Senator doing the same thing a couple months ago in an attempt to promote abortion. Her shoes were even glowingly featured in People magazine this week.

  4. If Obama had gotten even a small number of GOP votes in the house and senate this wouldn’t have happened. Poli-sci 101 again, in a representative democracy, if you want to make big changes, you need to get some of the opposition on your side — otherwise their is no down side for them if the opposition relentlessly attacks the changes. Because you got none of their votes, there is nothing in it for them if they defend it, and their is no price they will pay for opposing it.
    This’ll be considered a textbook case in a generation.
    Obama really, really, doesn’t know what he is doing.

  5. The Republican party needs to wake up to the potential of building a platform based on positive ideas of ways that government can improve American and the health, well being, the fortunes and futures of Americans.

    By becoming the party which opposes everything associated with the Democrats — and there surely is much worthy of opposition – they wind up being cast as the angry, negative, grumpy old men.

    What Republicans need to do is focus on some truly worthwhile causes – not just opposing and undoing the tax-and-spend activities of the Democrats.

    There actually are some great initiatives which the federal government in America has the resources to back, and produce winning outcomes from having backed them. Do the Republicans realize this? Perhaps not.

  6. There actually are some great initiatives which the federal government in America has the resources to back, and produce winning outcomes from having backed them.

    What are they? Be specific.

  7. Space exploration and hardening the grid against EMP attack are two things that come readily to my mind.

  8. How about building a strong border barrier/ fence on both borders?

    Even if we foolishly didn’t change current policies and practices, we could still regulate and quantify who’s coming and going.

  9. @Mr. D
    1) Broader entitlement reform.
    2) Get employers out of the benefits business, so every employee is transparently paid in cash, not benefits. Employer provided healthcare is not only a source of risk in one’s personal finances, it is also a source of inefficiency in the provision of health care, and in the remuneration of workers.

  10. Emery,

    Be specific. Which entitlements? Which reforms? Define your terms. As for getting employers out of the benefits business, great idea. How do you do it?

  11. Medved is wrong, as befits a true RINO. It was NOT a filibuster, first and foremost. It was a speech. Albeit a loooong one. One that needed to be said. I, for one, am glad Cruz is around. At least there is SOMEONE speaking truth to power!

  12. Mr. D, EmeryTheUSAHater is too busy compiling list of glorious and successful Soci@list societies to ponder your questions.

  13. @Mr. D
    Bowles-Simpson used to be at the top of my wish list. Just enough reform in it to offend both sides equally.

    Social Security
    1) Raise the retirement age: the full retirement age can be gradually extended three years, to 70.
    2)Consumer Price Index: It would index Social. Security’s formula in part to prices, which generally grow slower than wages.
    3) Means test Social Security. Retirement cannot be a state-subsidized 20 year vacation in the sun if we are to progress as a society.

    1) Means test Medicare and raise the eligibility age for affluent workers.
    2) Make the richer elderly pay more for their own care. We’ll be seeing a lot of this in years to come. The social spending which is growing fast is almost all transfers from the working young to the idle old. You can’t be a responsible party of government while claiming that Medicare will never change.

    “Get employers out of the benefits business”
    Providing health care is a tremendous distraction for business. It gets employers involved in aspects of the employees’ lives where they don’t belong and aren’t comfortable. Much as you don’t want your employer making life or death decisions about coverage for one of your family members, your employer really doesn’t want to be in that position either. I fully expect to see a trickle of businesses, starting with small ones, dropping their employees onto the exchanges, which will grow to an avalanche. Health care insurance from your employer will become rare.

    This does not necessarily imply a single payer system. There must be a universal mandate, and a common risk pool (or pools) which cannot turn away pre-existing conditions or charge based on those conditions. It would help to have a single standard payment system, but even that does not imply single payer. The Swiss and the Germans don’t have a single payer system.

    The Republicans are very unlikely to repeal the health reform law. But they could improve it by paring back the minimum plan to a high deductible, high co-pay plan with a maximum on the co-pay.

  14. Much better, Emery. Having said that, I would hope that you do realize that while these might be “winning outcomes,” there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that either party would sign up for these reforms. Paul Ryan proposed making some of these changes and his reward was being portrayed as a guy who was actively advocating killing Grandma. We have several generations who have paid into this system and dammit, they’re gonna get paid. You try taking away the “state-subsidized 20 year vacation in the sun” and you’ll be out of office in a heartbeat.

    The better guess is that we’ll pay Social Security benefits in full, but in dollars that have the value of Turkish lira. And Medicare isn’t going to be pared back, officially, but eventually we’ll have a variation of Sarah Palin’s much-derided death panels, in which we’ll be providing palliative care, which translates into a slight increase in the morphine budget. We aren’t the Germans or the Swiss, so when Obamacare crashes, as it will, we’ll have single payer. And if the single payer refuses to pay, or slow walks the payment, well, too bad for you. You didn’t need that knee replacement anyway.

  15. Ask a hard question. How about: “Would you support denying cancer treatments that average less than a 3 month extension on life to Medicare patients if that would lower your payroll taxes by 5%?” That’s a practical and honest question I’d like to see the answer to, as that’s the sort of question we need to answer to keep health care spending under control.

  16. Ask a hard question. How about: “Would you support denying cancer treatments that average less than a 3 month extension on life to Medicare patients if that would lower your payroll taxes by 5%?”

    Actuaries don’t run things, Emery. And you have to remember that the grabbiest generation of all is now entering its dotage and they aren’t gonna leave quietly or cheaply.

  17. One way out of this trap is to simultaneously offer Medicare for all. You can’t reform Medicare because to do so is an attach on seniors, which they will fight. You can’t means test Medicare because middle class seniors (the ones who vote the most) know that they will be paying more. But if you offer Medicare to all, reform is absolutely essential, and it will be harder for the seniors to argue about means testing when the young are paying 80% of the premiums and the old are taking 80% of the services.

    So if you are a conservative, you start by offering Medicare to all. You make the annual dues for young people astronomical for the full plan, so you offer them cheaper versions of Medicare which are not fee-for-service, or high deductible and co-pay, and/or run through private insurers. Then you tell the seniors that they have to move to the cheaper versions of Medicare if they want to avoid fees, fees which are means tested. This will take a decade or more, but if we don’t pursue a path like this, the politics become impossible.

    The takeaway lesson is that you can’t privatize or otherwise reform Medicare unless you make it universal, first.

  18. “Change” and “Medicare” can never be uttered in the same sentence when in the presence of an old person unless you are prepared to perform CPR or change an other’s adult foundation garment.

    Such a proposal ranks #2, right below broken hip on te senior top ten list of fears. Too bad.

  19. I think it’s safe to say, that we can expect boomers to continue voting for spending more money on seniors.

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