Saturday, April 20, 2013

Smoke and Mirrors in DC

Smoke and Mirrors in D.C.
P. Schultz
April 20, 2013

            Here is a column written by a guy named A. Barton Hinkle, which was, I am assuming, published first in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. And if you leave aside Hinkle’s obvious dislike of anything like “Obamacare” and perhaps anything put forward by Obama, it is a pretty good article. How’s that?

            Well, it illustrates, not intentionally perhaps, how both the Republican and the Democratic parties are working to preserve the status quo. As Hinkle writes:

“Washington, as the story goes, remains stuck in a budgetary stalemate between big-spending liberals who want to raise taxes and lavish money on wasteful programs, and crypto-anarchist conservatives who want to burn the entire federal government to the ground. If you believe his press clippings, President Obama has just boldly waltzed into the middle of this tug-of-war with a Nixon-goes-to-China proposal to tackle runaway entitlement spending.
“The gulf between proposals does not exactly resemble the Grand Canyon. It looks more like a golf-course divot.”

            As Hinkle goes on to point out, the House Republicans plan for “deficit reduction” would “spend 4.95 trillion, or 19.1% of GDP,” while the Democrats in the Senate “would spend 5.69 trillion, or 21.7%” of GDP. And the president’s plan falls somewhere in the middle of these two plans. As Hinkle writes: “Republicans are nearly so austere as they – and for that matter, Democrats – would like everyone to believe.” And, again, “you can’t really use the word ‘austere’ in reference to any of these budgets.” 

            Now, the shortcoming, as I see it, of Hinkle’s piece is that he does not ask the question: Why is it that both the Republicans and the Democrats want people to think that they are divided by a chasm that “resembles the Grand Canyon,” rather than something that “looks more like a golf-course divot?” That is, how do both parties benefit from this misconception? 

            Interesting questions. I wish I had the answer but I don’t. But that does not make the phenomenon any less interesting: Here we have what are commonly considered two political parties, pretending to be at loggerheads, to be “poles apart,” even though they are not. Cui bono?

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