A great article in the WSJ today by Randy Barnett.
The reason is simple. Unlike a parliamentary system in which governments are formed by coalitions of large and small parties, our electoral system is a first-past-the-post, winner-take-all one in which a winning presidential candidate just needs to get more than 50% of the vote. This means each contending “major” party is itself a coalition that needs to assemble enough diverse voting groups within it to get to 51%. Hence the need to appeal to the so-called moderates and independents rather than the more “extreme” elements within.
To the extent that a third party is successful, it will drain votes from the coalition party to which it is closest and help elect the coalition party that is further removed from its interests. The Libertarian Party’s effort will, if effective, attract more libertarian voters away from the candidate who is marginally less hostile to liberty, and help hand the election to the candidate who is more hostile to liberty.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. In a two-party system, we form coalitions before the election, not after. Third parties are just votes of non-participation.
So who should libertarians vote for?
Libertarians need to adjust their tactics to the current context. This year, their highest priority should be saving the country from fiscal ruin, arresting and reversing the enormous growth in federal power—beginning with repealing ObamaCare—and pursuing a judiciary who will actually enforce the Constitution. Which party is most likely to do these things in 2013?
The Republican Party. I sympathize with those who vote Libertarian, as they are like-minded, probably more so than the average Republican. But they are just asking for socialism, from which our country will find no return.
One of the best analyses of the reasons for Obama’s first debate meltdown.
This final paragraph is stellar:
Obama had seen that his friends would protect him, and so he believed he could mail it in Wednesday, but this was the venue that could not be spun. No filter. No edits. No choosing what to put in or leave out. No shaping of the story. Just the story itself, rolled out in real time, sans narration, before 70 million American voters, undoing six years of hype and hysterics. It revealed one small, not all that keen academic, having been inflated by the narrators beyond all recognition, dissolving before everyone’s eyes.
More good dismal stuff from Mark Steyn.
Particularly liked this paragraph:
This election represents the last exit ramp before the death spiral. (Yes, yes, I know: too long for a campaign button.) Obama has spent the past four years making things worse. More debt, more dependency, more delusion. For Act Two, he’s now touting the auto bailout as a model for … everything! “I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.” In the past three years, he has “created” 2.6 million new jobs – a number that does not even keep up with the number of (legal) immigrants who arrive each month. Obama does not “create” jobs, he creates disabled people: In the same period as 2.6 million Americans signed on with new employers, 3.1 million signed on at the Social Security Disability Office. Obama is the first president in history to create more disabled people than workers. He is the biggest creator of disabled people on the planet. He has disabled more people than the Japanese tsunami. More Americans have been disabled by Obama than have been given cancer by Mitt Romney. “Ask yourself, ‘Are you more disabled now than you were four years ago?’ Obama 2012.” Followed by the wheelchair logo with the Obama “O” where the wheel should be. In the Democrats’ Dependistan, the wheelchair ramp is downhill all the way.
Why does a president get credit for private sector job creation? And why doesn’t he get blame for public sector dependency enrollment?
Well, this was a nice story to wake up to this morning … funny how all the liberal commentators think so too, they’ll be regretting their glee …
Of the Obamacare ruling aftermath commentaries, this one I agreed with the most. I have commented before about the mistaken use of the enumerated taxing power, in Government Health Care and the Constitution and Are Social Security and Medicare Constitutional?
The trouble is, liberals always get away with saying that such-and-such clause could be read in a way that allows for government to pass this law, or create this program, or take over this sector of the economy. Their reading is always the most abstruse; they don’t care if it makes them look dopey, they just want more power.
An excellent article.
Entitlements arguably have two components. First is a “contributive” component, which many Americans perceive as the money the government takes out of their paychecks and they view as contributing to their own retirements. Because all working people pay into Social Security and Medicare from their paychecks, they feel they bought into the system.
Then there’s the “redistributive” component, whereby some Americans with lower lifetime earnings receive more from these programs than they pay into them. Surely, not all Americans take the time to identify these two components or determine if they agree with both or one or the other.
But support for Social Security and Medicare is largely driven by the “contributive” element. Americans simply want to recoup the money they contribute to the system. They just want their money back. If policymakers can communicate that entitlement reform will not rip off contributions, they may be able to garner enough public support for meaningful reforms.
Emily Ekins’ polling for Reason found that 51% (Medicare) and 57% (Social Security) of respondents would be unwilling to have their benefits cut to balance the federal budget. But, if offered a full refund of dollars they (and their employers) paid in, the imbalance reverses: 59% (Medicare) and 61% (Social Security) of respondents would be willing to favor cuts in these programs “if they were guaranteed to get back what they and their employers have contributed into the two programs.”
Liberals always like to trumpet Social Security as one of our government’s most popular programs. Maybe it’s just popular in the sense that people want it around to get back what they put in.
Great article. Highlights:
So what’s my complaint? Simply this: Where’s the proof that Obama is a master of public policy? To be sure there’s ample proof that he’s a master at talking about public policy, describing the problems, summarizing the current thinking, regurgitating all of the reigning clichés and platitudes. But where’s the evidence that he’s actually good at public policy?
It’s a sincere question: What have been the truly innovative, groundbreaking or even unconventional big public policy ideas to come out of this administration? Are there any? Because from where I sit, it simply looks like Obama takes existing, conventional, liberal ideas – some of them very, very old – off the liberal pantry shelf and hawks them like it’s new inventory. Where’s the evidence that Obama’s “mastery” over public policy has translated itself into creative approaches? Not in the stimulus from what I can tell. Maybe there’s something impressive to tout in ObamaCare, but Obama didn’t actually have much to do with the crafting of ObamaCare – a fact Wilson acknowledges. Was his genius to be found in shoveling cash into Solyndra and other embarrassing white elephants? Was he the guiding intellect behind a green jobs program that has produced dozens of jobs in places where it was supposed to create thousands?
To me he looks like a mere pounder. He takes standard Keynesian and Marxist boilerplate, adds some extra helpings of goodies for left-wing constituents, and keeps trying to hammer them through. No imagination, no cleverness, no lightbulb.
The best was one of the comments on the article’s blog (full credit to AmishDude):
This is really a brilliant observation, Jonah: Obama is merely a fan of public policy.
He’s not Bill Belichick, he’s the guy on the couch that always yells at the Patriots to go for it on 4th and 10.
A brilliant metaphor beyond belief.
Michael Medved has a strong case here that the “temporary” payroll tax cut is a ruse. It’s permanence will be unavoidable, skewing the tax system even more progressive and disconnecting Social Security receipts from outlays. And these tax cuts will be offset by even more discriminatory tax hikes on society’s producers.
Utterly shameful. I like how they try and pretend it is like a venture capital portfolio. President Obama:
There were going to be some companies that did not work out; Solyndra was one of them.
What happens when (if?) companies do work out? Does the government get a return sufficient to recoup the losses of those that didn’t? No. The taxpayers just get their money back, without interest. Some investment.
George Will has a good response here to Elizabeth Warren’s attack on people who believe that the money they earn is theirs. His last paragraph is a good summary:
Society — hundreds of millions of people making billions of decisions daily — is a marvel of spontaneous order among individuals in voluntary cooperation. Government facilitates this cooperation with roads, schools, police, etc. — and by getting out of its way. This is a sensible, dynamic, prosperous society’s “underlying social contract.”
What I like about this article is that it highlights and dismisses a specific concern around the debt limit issue: default.
The President has been using this term very loosely over the past few weeks with the specific, deliberate intent to confuse people. When people hear the word “default", they understand it to mean not paying Treasury security interest or principal. That is the manner in which the term was used in this debate in the Spring. But then Obama used a rhetorical trick. He has used the word “default” to indicate any non-payment to a planned expense. Not paying an entitlement constituted default. Not paying a government worker (who could be laid off) is a default. Even not paying contractors for future work is a default. This is cynical misleading.
But Baum makes it clear this has nothing to do with defaulting on the debt:
Default is defined as the failure to make timely payment of principal and interest. Standard and Poor’s uses that definition, specifically as it pertains to market debt, when it issues its sovereign debt ratings.
The Treasury is not going to default in August, nor in subsequent months for that matter. An estimated $172.4 billion of tax revenue next month is more than enough to cover the $29 billion of August interest payments. For fiscal 2011, which ends Sept. 30, the Treasury is expected to take in revenue of $2.2 trillion, while only $214 billion is needed to service the debt.
And even if it lacks the authority for new borrowing, the Treasury can continue to roll over existing debt.
Instead of dangling the default threat every chance they get, Obama and Geithner should be telling the world that the U.S. has every intention, and the resources, to meet its debt obligations. They should shout it from the rooftops, put a banner on the Treasury Direct website, and use the Sunday talk shows to reassure investors, not frighten them.
Indeed, if there was a risk of default on the debt, the derivative market for credit-default-swaps would show it. Instead, they indicate a less than 1% chance of debt default:
The price of a one-year credit default swap on the U.S., a derivative contract that offers default protection, rose to a record 80 basis points from 46 basis points last week.
Yes, that’s a record, but apparently not one of great concern for debt holders.
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