The Right Opinion

Republicans and Mad Max

By Mona Charen · Dec. 4, 2012

The incomparable Walter Russell Mead, writing in the American Interest, offered a glimpse into the coming dystopia:

“Things are getting worse in San Bernardino. The city filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, but its financial situation has continued to deteriorate. And now with what promises to be a heated court battle over payments to the state pension fund in the offing, further cuts are likely.

"Things are getting so bad that at a recent city council meeting, the city attorney advised residents to 'lock their doors and load their guns' because the city could no longer afford to keep up a strong enough police force.”

Consider also this Reuters story from Greece:

“For hours the leader of the Greek journalists' social security fund had been chairing a meeting about disastrous losses on retirement savings caused by the country's economic collapse. 'She tried to present herself as the fund's savior and asked (members) to double contributions to 6 percent of salaries,' said one of those present that night at the Titania hotel. Spanopoulou, 58, did not succeed.

When she rose to leave around midnight, enraged fund members first swore, then waded in punching, kicking and tearing at her clothes, according to witnesses. A bodyguard managed to bustle her out of the room, but another group caught her just outside the hotel and gave her a second beating. She spent the night in hospital.

"It was a brutal sign of the fury many Greeks feel at the way the country's debt crisis has dashed hopes of a comfortable old age. Greece's pension funds - patchily run in the first place, say unionists and some politicians - have been savaged by austerity and the terms of the international bailout keeping the country afloat.”

When governments cannot pay their current employees because they've gone broke paying pensions to previous employees (among other obligations), you don't get a “fiscal cliff,” or even a bad recession. You get the unraveling of civilization.

That is how Republicans should present the stakes in the budget impasse when speaking to the press. So far, John Boehner has described the president's proposals as “unserious” and Mitch McConnell has let it be known that he laughed in Tim Geithner's face. Does either of those responses convince the average voter that something is at stake here beyond Republicans protecting their wealthy friends?

In point of fact, the Republicans have already bowed to the election results and agreed to raise taxes on the top 2 percent of earners. But the president is pushing for much more. Far from proposing spending cuts, Obama touts new stimulus spending and “investment” in infrastructure. He wants to limit deductions and have sole discretion to raise the federal debt limit. He may be hoping to provoke angry Republicans into permitting sequestration, calculating that he could withstand a recession at the start of his second term and still emerge with his legacy intact, but that Republicans would be devastated in the 2014 midterms if they were made to take the blame for a downturn.

It's a triple irony that Obama is successfully painting Republicans into the “party of the rich” corner. First because they've already agreed to tax increases, and second, the much-maligned Bush “tax cuts for the rich” actually made the code more, not less, progressive. And third, because the Republicans are holding out for what? For spending reductions. What is the nature of those spending cuts? There are a number of possibilities, but one that Republicans have endorsed includes means-testing entitlements.

Means-testing translates into another tax on wealthier Americans. They will receive fewer benefits from programs like Social Security and Medicare than they've been led to expect. So Republicans are holding out – and being scorned as the party of the rich – for demanding fewer benefits for, yes, the rich.

The Republicans are attempting to divert the nation – not from the “fiscal cliff” but from something much worse. If government debt is not controlled by spending cuts (tax increases on the rich make scarcely a dent), the U.S. is headed for drastic economic decline. Interest rates will rise to attract wary international investors. Rising interest rates will in turn increase our debt service burden, while a diminished private sector will provide less and less tax revenue. The combination of spiraling debt service and entitlement spending will quickly leave no funds for any other purpose.

That's when it becomes Mad Max. That's what the negotiations are about.



Ct-Tom in NC said:

Several years ago I heard a politician (can't remember who it was) remark that we are always 48 hours from Thunderdome. Civilization is a thin veneer indeed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 1:26 AM

Greg in Uvalde, TX replied:

If the power grid goes off-line, you'll see Mad Max in 48 hours. Especially if it's taken down by an EMP caused by a nuclear burst high in the atmosphere. We would have no way to replace all of the burned-out transformers. Society would disintegrate! TEOTWAWKI !!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:56 PM

William in Florida said:

The only solution is to put an end to our out of control government simply by walking away with our constitution in hand and start over learning from the past mistakes and install provisions in our constitution to prevent it from ever happening again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 6:09 AM

Tapdaddy in Indiana replied:

You're a champ, William.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Greg in Uvalde, TX replied:

i.e.; we secede. But, how would that work? (Not saying it shouldn't be examined. But, let's EXAMINE it!) Even very red states have millions of very blue people living there. Do we kick them out? If not, do we allow them to be elected to office, even if they don't agree with us? (Of course!) If so, do you (like me) see the beginnings of what we already have??? Also, most blue states have red citizens living in them. Do we accept THESE illegal aliens??? Lots more questions than answers. FACT: Utopia does not exist, either on the left or the right.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Like in Mel Gibson's melodramatic Mad Max, the Evil Socialists, first cut off a finger,with a boomerang. Secondly, they lop off a hand, then an arm, and well IT AIN'T PRETTY!!!The GOLD standard for free market growth is/was Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman blueprint! LOL Patiots.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 6:34 AM

Greg in Uvalde, TX replied:

The Patriots. It was originally an internet novel, called The Gray 90's. Listening to the audiobook right now. TEOTWAWKI anyone?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:08 PM

wjm in Colorado replied:

The End Of The World As We Know It?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Alex in NJ said:

The point is to collapse the economy. Think of all the stuff you could do then!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:05 AM

Greg in Uvalde, TX replied:

I hope this isn't deliberate. What the "powers that be" don't know is that they won't be in control of an economic collapse. They won't control ANYTHING when... if... it ends. TEOTWAWKI !!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Stephen in NH said:

The good people of San Bernardino (and good americans everywhere) need to demand an independent audit of their town/city/state Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR); specifically looking for monies hidden in off-balance accounts. In all likelihood, they will discover billions of dollars are hidden away in accounts the city does not want the citizens to know about.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:10 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

No matter what happens the Republicans will get the blame. Instead of going to the American people with outlines of what will happen if Odumbo gets his way their doing their usual talking and not doing. Most thinking people know we can't continue down this road we are on and just want someone to standup and say enough is enough. Propose solutions that make sense to the average person and not some over-educated idiot who has no common sense. Get back to the basics of economics that work and stop living with their heads in the clouds looking for a Utopia that doesn/t exist and never will. You can't sustain a viable economy when you have more people living on government largess programs than people working to supply the money needed to fund those programs.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 9:57 AM

JAC in Texas replied:

Sarge: Who will present the Republicans' outlines of what will happen to the American people? MSNBC? CBS? The New York Times? As long as these "news" organizations continue to have their noses up Obozo's ass, the country is truly screwed!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

Jac, They have free mailing, newspapers in their districts that will print their thoughts, and TV and Radio stations that will have them on their local show in their states and districts. They can't do it from Washington and depend on the lamestream media.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:37 PM

JAC in Texas replied:

O.K., that takes care of their home districts and the constituents who put them in office, but that's not the problem. That's preaching to the choir, similar to the viewers of Fox News. Only people who agree with Fox News watch it. The rest of the country, those who put Obozo in office, won't get the word, and will remain blissfully ignorant (or terminally stupid). I guess I'm still too cynical!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Mindblown in Flyover USA said:

So, raise your hands -- how many think 'o' cares about his "legacy" the same way Mona and the rest of the talking heads talk about legacy? What he's wanting and demanding now in terms of taxes and new spending AND UNILATERAL CONTROL OF THE DEBT CEILING tells exactly what he wants his legacy to be -- fundamental transformation of the USA. With the way he tramples the Constitution (with no conseqences) the more it looks like his "last election" will also be ours. No worries about a legacy for the next 30+ years.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Greg in Uvalde, TX replied:

But, what will he preside over, Thunder-dome? That is the growing question. If Obama wants to take down the economy to further his legacy of transforming America, then it is obvious that he doesn't know what he is letting himself (and all of us) in for. That is VERY dangerous. He's like a kid in the garage, playing with matches. He's ignorant of the VERY LIKELY POSSIBILITY of burning OUR house down! Incompetent socialist!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:20 PM

wjm in Colorado said:

The goal of Obamao has always been Mad Max. He means to rule, and must collapse the Economy and American Civilization to do that. He doesn't care about any people or rule of law, only the ends justify the means, collapse the country and rule as King of the Potomac region, formerly Washington D.C. The indoctrinated useful idiots have voted to destroy America. Thanks a Lot, Traitors!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Greg in Uvalde, TX replied:

See my above, to BNgranny. All he will have is chaos! It's crazy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:21 PM

wjm in Colorado replied:

Yes the Marxist agenda is indeed insane, but he will RULE, whatever little postage stamp country he can.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 8:20 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado said:

All of this spending is under the control of Congress, not the President. If Republicans in the House had spines they could stop this runaway train in it's tracks. It starts with a budget, a concept vaguely remembered by Senators and Representatives as there has not been one since the Bush administration. Stop the continuing resolutions that allow over spending to be hidden, and if that means the government shuts down - so be it. Obama has no mandate! Stop acting like his winning of the the election gives him the right to have anything he wants. Republicans in the House of Representatives are no better than Obama if they lie down and roll over for him.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Greg in Uvalde, TX replied:

I agree! The House GOP needs to pass a common-sense bill that keeps the same tax rates, cuts discretionary spending, caps entitlements, and mitigates sequestration. Then, Boehner needs to call a presser and say, "THAT is my negotiating point. I'm through talking until the Dems in the senate match it with a bill. Then, we'll see them in a conference committee, where there will be MORE negotiation. And, THAT will be my NEXT negotiation! Then, when we pass something, the president can either sign it, or veto it. Someone needs to get these Dems a copy of School House Rock: How a Bill Becomes a Law! They seem to be lost, regarding how we do that, here!" Then, walk out of the room, and give the House a week off. It's called Hardball!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Tapdaddy in Indiana said:

Piss on Greece and all of the greedy bastards.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Greg in Uvalde, TX replied:

But, the sad truth is that too many Americans already expect what the government cannot continue to provide. TEOTWAWKI !!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:40 PM