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Dr. Sowell Reverses on Debt Deal


You remember during the negotiations between Boehner and McConnell and Obama on the debt deal, Thomas Sowell wrote a piece suggesting that we support the Boehner deal, that it was the best we could get at the time, we should take it, avoid being blamed, and all this. I read it to you, and I openly expressed my shock that Sowell had taken this position, and I... (interruption) What? What? (interruption) No, no.

No, he's done a reversal. He's done an about-face now, and he says Republicans were snookered in the deal. I have no basis for believing it to be true, but that original piece didn't read like your average Thomas Sowell column to me, and I mentioned this. It really shocked me. I couldn't believe it. In fact, I was reading Tom Sowell saying, "Take it, best we can do." It was sounding like he never sounds. So yesterday he posted a piece at Investor's Business Daily: "In Don Marquis' classic satirical book, 'Archy and Mehitabel,' Mehitabel the alley cat asks plaintively, 'What have I done to deserve all these kittens?' That seems to be the pained reaction of the Obama administration to the financial woes that led to the downgrading of America's credit rating, for the first time in history. There are people who see no connection between what they have done and the consequences that follow. But Barack Obama is not likely to be one of them. He is a savvy politician who will undoubtedly be satisfied if enough voters fail to see a connection between what he has done and the consequences that followed," and that's exactly right.

originalHe can't have people thinking that he's doing what he's doing on purpose. He can't have people believing that -- and it's easy because most people don't want to believe the president would do that. They don't want to believe. No matter what they see, no matter what's right in front of their face, they don't want to believe it. It's a tough sell even for me, El Rushbo. There's no better persuasive person in media than me, and it's a tough sell. People don't want to believe it. "To a remarkable extent," Sowell says, Obama "has succeeded, with the help of his friends in the media and the Republicans' failure to articulate their case. Polls find more people blaming the Republicans for the financial crisis than are blaming the president.

"Why was there a financial crisis in the first place? Because of runaway spending that sent the national debt up against the legal limit. But when all the big spending bills were being rushed through Congress, the Democrats had such an overwhelming majority in both houses of Congress that nothing the Republicans could do made the slightest difference." So anyway, he goes on and on and on, and then writes this. This is where he does the about-face. "Just a week before the budget deal was made at the 11th hour, it looked like the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives had scored a victory by getting the president and the Congressional Democrats to give up the idea of raising the tax rates – and to cut spending instead. But now that the details are coming out, that 'victory' looks very temporary, if not illusory.

"The price of getting that deal has been having the Republicans agree to sitting on a special bipartisan congressional committee that will either come to an agreement on spending cuts before Thanksgiving or have the budgets of both the Defense Department and Medicare cut drastically. Since neither side..." this is key here. "Since neither side can afford to be blamed for a disaster like that, this virtually guarantees that the Republicans will have to either go along with whatever new spending and taxing that the Democrats demand or risk losing the 2012 election by sharing the blame for another financial disaster."

I don't agree with this. I want to reassure you right now I don't agree with this, but this is Sowell's analysis. He thinks now the Republicans were snookered because nobody's gonna go along with Medicare cuts and defense cuts, and so the Republicans have been hoodwinked again into agreeing to raise taxes. Now, I remember bringing up the possibility of this yesterday. Snerdley was blowing a gasket in there thinking, "No way! It's not possible." I said, "Are you sure the Republicans can't be talked into raising taxes? I mean, it's happened once. It's happened once. George H.W. Bush, 'Read my lips: No new taxes.'" Well, they do remember what happened to him. I know he lost. Snerdley is shouting at me that the congressional Republicans are more afraid of me than they are Obama.

I don't know. I don't know that they're more afraid of their own voters than they are Obama. Anyway, Tom Sowell is now doing an about-face on his support of the deal because he's realized this committee was a setup. The committee was not a late addition to this. There was plenty of time to oppose this deal with the knowledge of the committee being part of the deal. The committee is not something we learned about after this thing was agreed to and signed by Obama, right? We knew about the committee. So I'm still scratching my head here over this, but here's how Sowell concludes: "In short, the Republicans have now been maneuvered into being held responsible for the spending orgy Democrats alone had the votes to create. Republicans have been had -- and so has the country.

"The recent, short-lived budget deal turns out to be not even a Pyrrhic victory for the Republicans. It has the earmarks of a Pyrrhic defeat." So he wants to back out of it. There's just one problem with this analysis. Just one problem, and that is that whoever the Republican presidential nominee is will have had nothing to do with this. One way or the other the Republican presidential nominee is not a sitting member of Congress, and the Republican presidential nominee is not a member of this committee. Nobody is yet. So the attempt here to blame congressional Republicans for raising taxes? That's something that a presidential nominee can easily distance himself from and say, "That's not gonna happen anymore with me there."

So this deal is not the death knell. It's a bad deal, but I'll tell you what strikes me. Again, it's all of the smart people on our side calling us hobbits for disagreeing with them, and all of those people inside the Beltway, the conservative media say, "It's the best we can do. We gotta take it now. If we don't there's gonna be a default and there's gonna be a downgrade and we're gonna get blamed for it." Everything they told us that would happen if we didn't do the deal has happened with the deal except default -- and, again, the reason? Fear! Fear of being blamed, fear of this, fear of that. It was an opportunity to do the right thing. We talked about the committee and what the committee could do at the time. They can't blame Bachmann for this. Bachmann's a presidential candidate, but Bachmann fought all of this all the way along. There isn't one Republican presidential nominee who went along with this. So it's not as dire as Professor Sowell says.



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