By now it’s plain to nearly everyone that Republicans are getting nowhere in massively cutting the budget and limiting the scope of the federal government. It’s tempting to blame the politicians themselves. “Those politicians!” it could be said. “They won’t honor the will of the people!”
But what actually is the will of the people? To get an answer, look no further than a recent McClatchy-Marist poll. Look at what people who identify themselves with the budget-cutting Tea Party say they want. According to the poll, 70 percent of Tea Party advocates
want no cuts to Medicare or Medicaid. Contrast this with the rest of the population, 80 percent of whom want no cuts.
The Medicare and Medicaid programs are the ones most responsible for the spiraling federal deficit that the Tea Party opposes more than anyone else in Washington D.C.
What does this tell you, assuming the poll is accurate? That it’s not individual rights, freedom and capitalism animating the Tea Party or Republicans in general. It’s simply a desire to be seen as opposing a federal deficit. In other words, it doesn’t matter what causes the deficit. It doesn’t matter what faulty thinking the deficit is built upon. For example, the idea that the federal government is responsible for providing medical care to the entire population is a faulty idea. It enslaves those who are able and willing to provide their own health care into the servitude of those unable or unwilling. It also ruins the free market, making it difficult or impossible for anyone — even the able and willing — to purchase their own health insurance outside of a government-run system.
The poll revealed 92% of Democrats, 73% of Republicans and 75% of independents also oppose the cuts. Note that self-described independents are the ones who determine elections. Most of them voted for Obama in 2008, and most of them voted for Republicans in 2010. If Democrats highlight the issue of Medicare and Medicaid in 2012, the only remaining question will be: How big a landslide for Obama?
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a Tea Party favorite, unveiled a sweeping budget cut proposal spanning the next decade. He proposes transitioning Medicare and Medicaid to a voucher system. Under a voucher system, the federal government still holds itself (and its most productive citizens) responsible for providing universal health care. The only difference is administrative, in that the government transfers money directly to citizens rather than to the health care providers. The poll suggests that even Tea Party advocates oppose this administrative change, in part because they falsely believe it to be a privatization of the health care field. Ryan will likely not get his way. The bad part is his defeat will be called a defeat for capitalism and privatized health insurance, when in reality it was never any such thing.
The minority of us who favor capitalism, limited government and a free market for everything outside of the military, police and courts must face a very hard fact. It’s not the politicians who are to blame. It’s the vast majority of Americans — 80 percent or more by this poll — who are to blame. It’s not a misunderstanding. It’s outright denial, and evasion, on the part of the great majority of the citizenry.
Even the Tea Party, who articulate slogans and ideas closer to the ideals of limited government than anyone else today, aren’t ready to part with the system of socialized medicine we currently have. They want freedom, self-responsibility and private markets in theory, but not in practice. What else are we to assume? If Medicare and Medicaid cannot be altered in any way, then nothing can. And the budget will simply explode into the abstraction of infinity.
How do they expect to cut the budget? Senator Rand Paul says cut the military. That won’t pay for Medicare and Medicaid. Agricultural subsidies? Neither party would ever touch those. And even if all corporate subsidies were eliminated tomorrow, the deficit would still grow from increased demand for Medicare, Medicaid and the forthcoming ObamaCare. Raise taxes on the wealthy? This is what Obama and the moderate Republicans want to do. But even if you tax the richest portion of the population at 70 or 80 percent, you still won’t pay for the exponentially growing demand for the health care programs we currently have, especially as the baby boom generation retires. Initiate a value added tax, or some other European-style middle class tax to increase revenue? It will likely come sooner or later, but that still won’t balance the budget.
No tax could keep up with this budget. No Federal Reserve can shield us from the consequences of a national debt that will ultimately destroy the value of our currency. And as the government taxes its citizens more, productivity will drop. Higher taxes don’t usually lead to more more revenue, but less. The reason for this is moral, not economic. Only those who work and produce get taxed. The more government punishes the productive members of society with taxes, the less they will produce. Government does not create economic prosperity; it merely diminishes or destroys it.
It’s no wonder the Republican presidential nomination process cannot get off the ground. The candidates may not be charming, but the problem is much worse than that. They have no message. They are trapped in the contradiction that government must keep doing everything it’s doing, while still balancing the budget. Donald Trump scores points for saying things clearly and with bluntness — but everyone ignores the fact that what he’s saying is no different than what all the other politicians are saying. Once in office, what will he do? Keep spending in place, raise taxes, and blame it all on the Chinese. How is this any different than Obama taxing, spending, and blaming all the problems of the world on “the rich”?
Republicans are trapped in a contradiction of the American people’s own making. This includes even the Tea Party. You cannot balance the budget and eat it too. No fewer than four-fifths of the population want the freebies to keep on coming. Who’s worse? The ones who don’t care, or the ones who scream loudly about the budget deficit — and still demand the freebies? You be the judge.
There is no savior for Americans other than Americans themselves. When and if Americans vote for a leader who says, “America — it’s all your fault. You have to change your ways, or you’re going to die,” then you’ll have my attention. Not a moment sooner.