Posted tagged ‘rand paul’

Primary Dynamics?

May 9, 2015

Have you noticed that the usually outspoken GOP Sunday Talk Show participants have been reserved and many are keeping out of the national spot light? It could be that President Obama has taken his sail out of their wind. Or, it could be that the high pollen count has put each of these candidates off their mark. Or, is it related to primary dynamics and the long odds strategies each must be considering if they really are serious about winning the GOP nomination?

Before the quadrennial primary season, GOP hopefuls like Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, or Rick Perry wanted to attract attention and make the public realize they were “players”. With their advisors, each picked issues and venues where they could be interviewed and make some audacious statement.  Their words were designed to project them as decisive, experienced, and destined for greatness. It mattered less whether their position was actionable or whether real events would produce superior or completely contrary results. The point of these public statements was to create an “impression” and hope that the public would forget the details.

So now the GOP is about to gather over a dozen Presidential hopefuls into a primary process. Strangely the process begins with three totally unrepresentative States (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina). In past times, these States were important despite their lack of resemblance to national demographic…  they were the path to funding.

Win in one or more of these States and your campaign stood a great chance to attract big money. Big money might then help the candidate win States with more convention votes. Hmmm.

In 2015, big money has pretty much already sought out their candidates (preferred and at least one back up). So what might the strategy be for a Ted Cruz, a Carly Fiorina, a Rand Paul, or a Lindsay Graham who aren’t the likely preferred candidates?

This group plus Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and John Kasick must realize that there is almost no chance they can win the nomination. They are still relatively unknown nationally and they lack the really big money.

On the other hand, as long as they stay in the race they allow for the chance that something strange could happen. Leading candidates could go bust or a second coming might pick one of the second tier candidates out of the crowd (less likely).

Most probable is the notion that the longer they last as a candidate, the better the offer they will get from the ultimate GOP nominee, the offer being tied to one of the also rans withdrawing and throwing support to the ultimate winner.

In a strange turn of events, it seems that leaders such as Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and even Marco Rubio find it to their advantage to remain relatively quiet in terms of audacious statements and stick to “chicken in every pot” type promises. “Obama is bad”, “Hillary is an insider”, and “no new taxes” are all safe statements. What the “leaders” do is what the second tier think they should do too.

Sooner or later the gloves will come off. For now, however, standing tall and looking wise is a better strategy than opening one’s mouth and proving otherwise.  Enjoy the relative peace and quiet for a while.

It Would Be A Hoot If It Wasn’t So Serious

April 14, 2014

Over the weekend, GOP conservative Presidential hopefuls gathered in New Hampshire. Notably, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie were not invited. (That’s a snub when you consider Donald Trump was in attendance.) But who was invited was not the news, rather it was what Rand Paul and Ted Cruz said.

These Tea Party favorites made speeches that included appeals that the GOP needed to broaden its base. What?

Certainly if the GOP wishes to win the White House it is a no brainer that current demographics are not very favorable to their crusade.

Paul tossed out civil rights using the example of disproportionate criminal convictions for drug possession. He urged fellow GOP members to recognize this injustice. Was he trying to stretch the traditional GOP “law and order” theme?

Cruz chose to demagogue the wealthy. “Republicans can no longer be seen as the party of Wall Street and the super rich”, Cruz said. He went on to say that income inequality has become the widest since 1928… under President Obama’s economic policies. If truth were words, and Cruz was forced to eat his words, he would have choke to death on the spot.

The GOP is well established as the party of no new taxes. Their voting record since 2008 is quite clear on the subject of taxes, especially increasing taxes on the wealthy. Now I suppose it is possible that Cruz and Paul’s words are the beginning of a total rethinking of what makes sense to the GOP. I wonder whether this rethink includes the Affordable Care Act?

To be sure there is plenty of landing ground for the GOP to change its tune. For starters, the GOP could simply say they favor a narrowing of income distribution inequality, or that all Americans are entitled to basic healthcare in a dignified way. What would follow next would confirm whether these were words or in fact a commitment.

It seems impossible to be for narrowing income inequality and at the same time be against raising the minimum wage and increasing taxes on the very wealthy. Repealing the Affordable Care Act seems equally inconsistent without a plan that also assures coverage.

There are many steps the GOP could propose to narrow income inequality. These would involve training and education, infrastructure development and maintenance, and disincentives for those who are gathering disproportionate shares of wealth (like hedge fund executives, large corporation CEOs, and those who take advantage of off shore tax holidays).

The core nature of healthcare involves availability and payment of service provided. Here too there are numerous areas where the GOP could propose how to make basic (emphasis on preventive) care available and a comprehensive method to pay for it. Almost certainly these proposals would include methods to cap fees the medical industry charges as well as broad based tax revenue to back up fees individuals paid (in a system where no one is ever denied service due to ability to pay).

Wouldn’t it be nice if Paul and Cruz were just writing the first chapter in this new GOP playbook?

Shut It Down, Shut It Up

August 2, 2013

Senator Ted Cruz wants to “shut the government down” and Senator Rand Paul wants Governor Chris Christie to “shut up”.  What a classy group of new conservative Senators Congress can now boast.  Hmmm.

Most likely Cruz does not really want to shut the government down.  For reasons that aren’t quite clear, he says he really wants instead to shut down “Obamacare”, the Affordable Care Act.  Paul probably really didn’t think Governor Christie was hoarding Federal funds that could instead have gone to national security.  Instead both Cruz and Paul are saying controversial things they hope will identify them as future leaders of a Republican Party.

Christie and other more moderate Republicans are saying “not so fast”.  These Republicans are pointing out that Cruz and Paul have not thought through the consequences of their proposals.  And in the opinion of these moderates, the consequences will be bad for the GOP.  (What about the country?)

Pause…  Let’s catch our collective breath.

The national economy is slowly but steadily recovering.  Most everyone wishes it was recovering faster and unemployment was lower.  The national debt is shrinking but not very quickly and with a balanced budget not in sight.  Most everyone intuitively believes the US should balance its budget.  While there is argument over the roll of tax increases, no one foresees balancing the budget with taxes increases alone or with 100% budget cuts.  Most economists, however, worry that a sharp increase in taxes and a proportionate reduction in government spending will bring our economic expansion to a halt.  Hmmm.

So what should our politicians be telling us we should do?

A slow but steady recovery has the advantage of lessening the chances for creating dangerous “bubbles” like we saw in 2007 with the housing industry and the derivative trades.  Small to moderate tax increases (like income tax code reform) and small to moderate reductions in government spending (like the size of the sequester) every one to two years might actual make progress.  But balancing the budget?  Not in the cards.


Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense Spending.

These three Federal expenditures are huge and growing.  Progress made with small to moderate increases in taxes and/or reductions in spending will be eroded with sucking sound of increased Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense spending.

Obamacare is a red herring.  It has nothing to do with the deficit by itself.  Shutting down the Government has nothing to do with the deficit (the money is already spent, the bills are already owed).

Healthcare and what is defined as “our national interests” has everything to do with the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense spending.  Any politician who cries out to repeal, roll back, or defund Obamacare (ACA) is disingenuous unless he/she offers a detailed alternative which offers the same coverage and does it at a lower cost.

Our national interest is a harder question to answer.  Since George W Bush (read Dick Cheney) lead America off its course and into endless wars in the Middle East, we have seen a world community only too happy to see America act as the world’s policeman.  Where is our national interest?

By the same token, an isolationist US would most likely produce a world where regional conflicts were numerous and international trade was severely restricted.  One can imagine a very dysfunctional world.  Hmmm.

I am getting the feeling that small to moderate change is actually a very prudent approach.  Whether some politicians like it or not, the current (and likely future) demographics, call for the US to work hard and cleverly towards an “inclusive” society.  What we might have thought was an inclusive society in the past, may not fill the bill in the future.  Senators Cruz and Paul (and all the others shouting to be heard) ought think about where the US is really headed and what internal changes will be necessary to meet the needs of that population.

Once the country pragmatically focuses on the future, then these spokesmen can more clearly see whre our national interests really are and what policies best serve them.

It won’t be “Shut Down” or “Shut Up”.

A New GOP?

April 24, 2013

I read in the Wall Street Journal that Senator Rand Paul wants to create a movement that will make the Republican party bigger and better.  Hmmm. I wonder what he is thinking?

Paul is the Libertarian’s poster child.  I just wonder what he is thinking.  For example, Libertarianism could help the GOP, at least if Republicans stopped telling women or gays how to run their reproductive health or lead their lives.  The GOP might get more votes.

And a more circumspect view of foreign entanglements might not be so bad if the country transitioned sensibly.  This would get my attention.

But there is more that comes with Libertarians.  And that’s what makes me wonder.

Libertarians love guns, “boot straps”, and their country.  While there is a place for guns, the woods and the city present two quite different conditions.  Personal protection, sports shooting, and hunting do not require military style weapons.

Boot straps refers to the general attitude that everyone should simply “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” if they wish to get ahead (or in many case just to survive).  When said quickly, this attitude sounds plausible.  When boot straps are put in context of modern America, it comes up short for too many people.

And the Libertarian franchise of loving ones country does not bode well for immigration reform.

So on balance it is not clear whether more libertarian views would help or hurt the GOP.  In the last election, the GOP managed to shoot themselves in the foot with little or no help from Libertarians.  But the rise of Rand Paul makes me wonder whether Paul and myself are seeing the same problems.

The current US path is patently unsustainable.  Medicare, Medicaid, and the Defense Department are leading the country to bankruptcy.  Social Security is not far behind. Republicans won’t increase taxes and advocate large cuts in government spending.  I would predict civil unrest if they somehow could pursue this path.

Democrats, on the other hand, are willing to raise taxes (albeit mainly on the rich) and faint at the notion of cutting government spending.  Deficits will keep increasing and the debt will swell with Democrat leadership.  Not a pretty picture this way either.

Congress is hopelessly deadlocked.  Public opinion is all over the map.   With so many gerrymandered districts, it makes little difference what the public thinks anyways.  The same crowd is going to be reelected regardless of their performance.


Americans must wake up.  The American dream is now about the very rich getting richer and the rest staying the same or losing ground.  While the rules of the game are stacked in the rich’s favor, too many Americans are not trying hard enough.

Rand Paul needs to put forth a program where those who do work or study harder will have a reasonable chance to obtain a good paying job.  The Middle Class simply does not earn enough to have any chance at the American dream.

Paul needs policies to wean those now reliant upon the social safety net into good jobs.  And for those who are old, disabled, or no longer capable of work, Paul needs to ensure the safety net will be there.

For my money, a social democracy, like Germany should be in our future.  The problem with this vision is that services of a social democracies must be paid for too.  If we are incapable of paying for what we use now, there is no hope that a social democracy will work better.  And a libertarian government which ignores the poor, the sick, and the elderly will be an even greater disaster.

It is time for all of us think about the next generation and put things right in this one.


March 30, 2011

No one has ever been labeled “an exaggerator” who blamed Congress members of open hypocrisy.  It appears this quality is necessary for survival and when found in abundance, can propel House or Senate members to great heights of leadership.  Our country has been so blessed.

President Obama’s decision to join in the military action in Libya has brought out the full rage of hypocritical peacocks, each strutting their finest feathers.  Senator McCain says the President did not move fast enough nor has he moved decisively.  The fine Senator either has not learned anything from the Iraq debacle or he enjoys the spot light more than talking sense.  Senator Luger, who normally is a source of reason, criticized the President for not having a plan to get out and knowing how much it will cost.  I wonder whether that criticism applied to Iraq too?  Senator Paul, true to his libertarian views, demands that Congress and only Congress decide in matters such as Libya.  I wonder where Senator Paul has been these past three months.  Congress cannot agree upon a Continuing Resolution or how to approach the long term deficit and debt albatross.  A Government shutdown is facing all of us.

You may ask what qualifies these positions as hypocrisy and not incompetence or their rock solid hard core beliefs?

There is certainly an element of core belief.   Each of these Senators would approach any question of military use in a similar way.  To that extent, we are seeing their core beliefs.  But there is more.

I favor hypocrisy over incompetence because each knows their positions were not possible in this particular situation.  Never the less, they also know their positions will have a sensible ring to their constituents.

This is a disservice to the Senate which should be deliberative and take a longer term view when compared to the House.  It is also a disservice to the American people who for the most part do not know whether the Libyan incursion was a good idea or not.  These inoperable comments shed no light upon the wisdom of Obama’s move.

And this sought of brings us full circle.  There is little interest in Congress to do what is right (even if it is wrong) on this issue or any other.  Congress’ driving energy is about getting reelected and only by accident helping to shape a bright future for the country.

The call to enter the Libyan rebellion is not straight forward and the wisdom of it may be known only years in the future.  Congress does have a real and important role in determining what further resources should be committed, and do deserve to be a full partner in deciding that.

That is, if they really want to be a partner.