Wake up, Bob!
By Jonah Goldberg
Published: Monday, January 21, 2013, 8:53 p.m.
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Dear Socially Liberal Fiscally Conservative Friend,
That's pretty toothy, so I'm going to call you Bob.
Bob, you're the sort of person who says to his conservative friends or co-workers something like, “I would totally vote for Republicans if they could just give up on these crazy social issues.”
When you explain your votes for Barack Obama, you talk about how Republicans used to be much more moderate and focused on important things such as low taxes, fiscal discipline and balanced budgets.
When Colin Powell was on “Meet the Press” the other day, you nodded along as he lamented how the GOP has lost its way since the days when it was all about fiscal responsibility.
And, Bob, you think Republicans are acting crazy-pants on the debt ceiling. You don't really follow all of the details, but you can just tell that the GOP is being “extreme,” thanks to those wacky tea partyers.
So, Bob, as a “fiscal conservative,” what was so outrageous about trying to cut pork — Fisheries in Alaska! Massive subsidies for Amtrak! — from the Sandy disaster-relief bill? What was so nuts about looking for offsets to pay for it?
You're still spouting this nonsense about being fiscally conservative while insisting the GOP is the problem. You buy into media's anti-Republican hysteria no matter what the facts are. Heck, you even believe it when Obama suggests he's like an Eisenhower Republican.
Well, let's talk about Eisenhower. Did you know that in his famous farewell address he warned about the debt? “We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage,” he said. “We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”
Bob, we are that insolvent phantom. The year Eisenhower delivered that speech, U.S. debt was roughly half our GDP. Now, the debt is bigger than our GDP. Gross domestic product is barely $15 trillion. The national debt is over $16 trillion and climbing. The country isn't going broke, Bob. It is broke.
Yet when Republicans actually have the courage of Obama's own convictions, you condemn them.
You nodded sagely when Obama said we needed a “balanced approach” to cut the deficit. He said he couldn't rein in entitlements without also raising taxes on “millionaires and billionaires.”
Well, he won that fight. We raised taxes on millionaires and billionaires exactly as much as he wanted. We also raised the payroll tax on everyone.
Obama's response to getting the tax hikes he wanted? He says we still need a “balanced approach” — i.e., even more tax hikes.
Anyone who calls himself a fiscal conservative understands we have a spending problem. Do the math. A two-earner couple that retired in 2011 after making $89,000 per year will pay about $114,000 into Medicare over their lifetimes but will receive $355,000.
And you think Paul Ryan's budget was “extreme.” Do you know when it balanced the budget? 2040. What's a non-extreme date to balance the budget? 2113?
Look, Bob, I don't know why you think you're a fiscal conservative. You're not. I don't expect you to vote Republican. But please stop preening about your fiscal conservatism, particularly as you condemn the GOP for not being fiscal conservatives, even when they are the only fiscal conservatives in town.
Jonah Goldberg is the author of the new book “The Tyranny of Clichés.”
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