Thursday, October 27, 2011

Supercommittee in the Sandbox

Democrats are offering a $3 trillion debt reduction of tax increases and spending cuts, including as much as $500 billion in savings from Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs to revive the Obama-Boehner Grand Bargain on the debt ceiling that Eric Cantor and his Tea Party House cohorts torpedoed last summer.

The proposal would include as much as $300 billion to stimulate the economy, but this would require Republicans to stop acting like spoiled Baby Boomers in a sandbox, clutching their favorite toys and refusing to share anything with anybody.

For someone of an older generation, such behavior recalls an early childhood memory in the Great Depression. Walking down the street, my mother grips one hand and in the other is some small object. I ask for something but she refuses. In a wailing rage, I fling what I am holding to the ground and, as my mother keeps pulling me along, I see another child pick it up. Now I want it back with all my heart. I learn that, if you ask for too much, you can lose what you have.

In post-World War II affluence, later generations grew up never having to realize that you can’t have everything, and their overblown sense of entitlement has now hardened into an adamant refusal to face the reality of not enough to go around.

All this is perfectly captured in an Esquire blog post by Charles Pierce, quoting a recent Paul Ryan speech:

"We're coming close to a tipping point in America where we might have a net majority of takers versus makers in society and that could become very dangerous if it sets in as a permanent condition. Because what we will end up doing is we will convert our safety net help people who are down on their luck get back onto their feet into a hammock that ends up lulling people into lives of dependency and complacency which drains them of their incentive and the will to make the most of their lives."

Pierce calls this “pure Ayn Rand. ‘Makers vs. takers.’ Moochers and leeches. You and Them. But especially Them. But not in a divisive way. Oh, no. The Congressman doesn't believe in divisive class rhetoric. He said so...And he is not engaging in the politics of division himself. Oh, no. He's just sad--mournful, even--that the ‘conceits of liberalism’ are on their way to dividing the country into ‘makers versus takers.’ And you know who you are, don't you? And who They are. And what They are taking...from You.”

Well said and sad. If nothing can get Ryan, Cantor et al out of the Ayn Rand sandbox, there will be fewer and fewer toys to go around for all.

Sandbox Update: Reflexively John Boehner rejects the Democratic proposal—-for one thing, not enough Medicaid cuts for those people down on their luck with their feet up on the hammock.

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