“Politically Feasible” an American Curse

Political feasibility is defined as the extent to which officials and policymakers are willing to accept and support a particular piece of public policy. Political feasibility is but one of many criteria we use when examining public policy, but it is arguably the most critical of them all. Without political feasibility, policy proposals will not possess the backing necessary to be signed into law, regardless of any other criteria we may use to examine the policy; the proposal may be effective, efficient, and technically feasible, but if it fails to garner the necessary votes, these criteria are all for naught. _Source

Totally logical. Why then do I say that “politically feasible” is an American curse? Because it seems to me that since 1913 the only things politically feasible have been to grow the federal government and move it toward socialism. Apparently there has never been a time when it has been politically feasible to make government smaller or to undo the socialist structural changes in the federal government. The most logical explanation for this phenomena is that TPTB of both parties support an ever bigger more powerful central government.

Let’s review some of the highlights of how our federal government grew into the all-powerful monster that it is today.

1.) The year 1913 was a pivotal year in the dismantling of our republic. Under our first socialist elitist president, Woodrow Wilson, and after several failed attempts by banking interest to establish a central bank, it was finally politically feasible to create the Federal Reserve. It also became politically feasible to strip the states of their representation in the central government  by convincing people it would be better for Senators to be elected directly by the people. this was accomplished when the 17th Amendment was passed.Dut, the most damaging accomplishment of the Wilson regime was to convince people to pass the 16th Amendment. If it is possible for a constitutional amendment to be unconstitutional, this is it. If you would like to know more about just how devastating the income tax has been to individual rights and to sates rights, there is a mini-book (pfd) at Mises.org titled The Income Tax: Root of all Evil that you can bookmark and read at your leisure. It will only take about an hour of your time. (H/T to Tony Fernàndez of  the Beer, Gun, and Baseball blog)

2.) The Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration. Under FDR it was politically feasible to create the Social Security Act  to aid the elderly in their retirement. This program would expand over the years placing an ever-increasing burden on successive generations until it has become totally unsustainable.

3.) The Lyndon B. Johnson Administration. During the time of LBJ it was politically feasible to saddle us with Medicare and a myriad of welfare programs under his War  on Poverty. Medicare like Social Security is also unsustainable.

4.) The Richard M. Nixon Administration. Besides breaking the last connection to the Gold Standard, Nixon blessed us with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). What may have been a good idea in the beginning, the EPA has grown into the most economically oppressive regulatory agency  that one could imagine.

4.) The William J. Clinton Administration. Bill Clinton will go down in history as the president that caused the 2008 financial collapse that we still suffer from today. Under Clinton it was politically feasible to use the Community Reinvestment Act from the Jimmy Carter era as a springboard and give the Affordable Housing Act, which allowed unqualified people to buy homes..  It was also politically feasible to revoke the Glass-Stegall Act removing regulations on the banking industry. With cooperation of the Federal Reserve supply low interest rates, the housing bubble and the sub-prime mortgage bubble were born.

5.) The George W. Bush Administration. This big government elitist found it politically feasible to burden us with Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, he found it politically feasible to take away our 4th Amendment rights with the Patriot Act, which spawned Homeland Security and the TSA. Then when Bill Clinton’s housing and sub-prime mortgage bubble burst, Bush found it politically feasible to bail out banks and other entities with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

6.) Because of the financial collapse of 2008, it was politically feasible to elect the country’s first Marxist president, Barack H. Obama. With control of both houses of Congress, Obama was able to pass the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which was not politically feasible.  It was, however, politically feasible to pass bureaucratic nightmare known as Dodds-Frank.

So, I repeat what I said at the beginning of this post: it seems for nearly 100 years the only thing that has been politically feasible is to expand the size and the power and the cost of the federal government at the expense of the rights and power fo the states and the people. To my knowledge, there has never been an attempt to build a politically feasible case for restricting the growth and power and cost of the federal government. No of TPTB, Republican or Democrat has ever wanted to change this pattern.

Now, I should probably end this post right here. But, there is one more point I want to cover.

Our country is in a very delicate and dangerous position right now. G.W. Bush went on a wild spending spree and added trillions to our national debt over his eight year term. Obama, not to be out done, increased our debt by the same amount in just over three years, We will be adding over a trillion dollars per to our debt for the forseeable future.  Last week, in this post, I warned of debt bomb that is ticking. No one, in my opinion, is trying to make a political feasible case for defusing the debt bomb. Defusing the debt bomb means paying down the debt.

Some people belive that Pau Ryan’s plan will save America. I do not agree. Paul Ryan I believe is one of the few good people in Washington. He does understand the risk our country is in right now. However, he has put forth a plan that he thinks might be politically feasible but is does nothing to defuse the debt bomb. I am not alone in my opinion. I owe a big hat tip to Pat Slattery of The Free Market Project blog for the link to this article by Stephan Green at the Vodkapundit blog at PJ Media. This is an exceptionally good article that you should think of as a must read. In this article, Mr. Green responds to a comment from an earlier post where the commenter laid out a good analysis of why Paul Ryan’s plan could save america. Mr. Green explains that under normal times he wold agree with the commenter; but these are not normal times. I very much agree with Mr. Greens conclusion:

So the problem isn’t balancing the budget by 2040, or 2027 or even tomorrow. The problem is, we need to start paying down the debt, and we need to do it very soon. Because thanks to our World’s Biggest and Dumbest Adjustable Rate Mortgage, we’re about to have a debt payment that’s bigger than our defense budget, that’s bigger than Social Security, that’s bigger than Medicare/Medicaid.

The only other options are default, or hyperinflation. Or, perhaps most likely: Both. Either results in the immediate destruction of our economy as we’ve known it. Say hello to your house that’s worth nothing, and gas you can’t afford.

So that’s our problem. That’s the brick wall we’re running into head first. Obama’s non-plan runs us into the wall sooner. Ryan’s plan gets us there a little later. But we’re still going to crash into that wall if we don’t start paying down the debt, and paying it down in a big way.

So, if no one ever makes the case for defusing the debt bomb, how will we ever know what is politically feasible? I’m not blaming Paul Ryan. He does not have the power and prestige or the financial where-with-all to carry on such a campaign alone. It would take the united effort of the Republican Party and their resources to make such a case. That is not going to happen. TPTB of the GOP would rather protect their precious positions of power for as long as they can, than do what is right for America.

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

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29 thoughts on ““Politically Feasible” an American Curse

  1. I’m of the school of thought that The Fed is not only useful, but its necessary to maintain fiscal stability and foster a healthy economy.

    The gold standard is an outmoded concept disconnected from a country’s true wealth. The intrinsic wealth of the United States is in no way tied to the amount of gold dug up in South Africa.

    Obviously, The Fed is ineffective for things like the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of 2008. Some misalignments in the economy are just to big for The Fed to mitigate.

    But before The Fed, depression level fluctuations in the US economy were common every few years. They were called “panics” back then. Fortunes were both made and lost all the time. There was no stability in the financial markets.

    Because of The Fed, though, we don’t have that anymore… and for that we can all be thankful.

    1. The gold standard vs. the fiat standard…hmm?

      While the gold standard did have its flaws it was INFINITELY better than what we have now which is NO standard.

      Gold standard means there was a limit on money printing. Fiat money means unlimited printing. Think about that. The only people the fiat standard benefit are the ultra rich, moneyed interests.

      The Fed is the reason the Great Depression lasted so long…ever heard of the silent depression ~1920-21?

      Do you call what we have now in the financial markets stability?

      The Fed is the CANCER in this country.

  2. I haven’t dug into Paul Ryan’s plan, but I do believe his intentions are good. However, because of the times we live in, and because of the habit of kicking the can down the road has been going on for so long, I suspect he doesn’t have a chance of succeeding. We need about 300-400 more members of Congress just like him and then, just maybe, we might be able to accomplish something positive.

  3. In my mind, Paul Ryan only provided more ammo for the Dems to use against us. Once again the pot gets stirred up. There is nothing we can do unless we gain control of all branches with a super majority in the Senate. The Dems are smart enough not to get into the budget conversation. Yes, it is a terrible problem. You, me and the minority agree. That is where we are. Stealth is how the Progressives got control, and that is what we must use as well.

  4. “Politically feasible” is indeed the proper term for the reasons that the federal government has mushroomed into a giant bureaucracy.

    Political feasibility usually takes over when there is economic difficulty. Such has been the case since at least the French Revolution in the 18th Century. When people are in dire want, they grasp at any straw the government offers them.

  5. Great post Jim. The American people are to blame pure and simple. We take ultimate responsibility for what happens in our country. Politically feasible merely means how far politicans can go and still get re-elected. They craft legislation that is supposedly to protect the American people in some fashion and we have shown time and again how gullible we are and buy into it.

    Even today, we search for someone to “lead” us from the wilderness. I don’t want leaders. They led us to where we are today. Again, our fault because we allowed them to make the gig so rewarding and then we sit and wonder why the term politically feasible is relevant.

  6. This is why I keep insisting that what is needed more than anything is education of the electorate on issues like economics. Government grows because it is easy to get a population that doesn’t understand economics to think more government spending is a good thing. Look at Medicare. It’s easy to “scare the old people” by saying an evil boogeyman (looking like Paul Ryan) is going to take away their health care coverage. “Look, the wonderful Democrats are going to give you health care coverage that you don’t have to pay for!” It takes someone who really understands the economics of the issue to realize that the Democrats “do nothing but make promises and demagogue actual solutions” actually WILL mean the end of Medicare for seniors. And that it will undoubtedly lead to worse and worse care until the day when it collapses entirely.

    How simple-minded was that woman who said to Mitt Romney, “… you know what would make me happy? Free birth control.”? The woman actually seems to think that there is a way to provide birth control without someone picking up the cost. She thinks the materials can be collected, manufactured, packaged, and distributed with no cost… no workers getting paid, no cost for materials… I will bet that she has no concept of the moral principle that says when others are laboring to give you things at no cost to you, you are enslaving those people. She probably believes either that goods can magically appear in the marketplace so there is no cost, or that someone is actually rich enough to provide everyone with everything they want if we just tax that rich person (or those rich people) enough, and that the rich people will gladly continue their labors and be able to consistently maintain their wealth in such a world.

    If more people understood how the world works, how an economy works, what is politically feasible would be a very different beast than it is when politicians have to cater to the ignorant. Politicians will always want to be popular, to gain votes, and maintain their power. When doing that means satisfying ignorant people, what you get is stupid policies that enlarge the government.

    1. Great work your doing in exposing the truth, AOW. There are people who want to use this tragedy to recreate the racial conflicts of the sixties. Nothing good can come from that and Obama is fanning the flames.

  7. Great post Jim, I would add that Lincoln also did quite a bit to extend the power of the federal government. It was for a just cause, but the effects of his expanding the federal government are still being felt today.

    1. It was for a just cause

      Two things worth thinking about.

      1) You can also state that this way: “the ends justify the means.” But can righteous ends really be achieved via unrighteous ways?

      2) The war started over taxes, not slavery. Collecting tax money is never a justifiable reason to go to war. Pillage is unrighteous.

  8. Personally, I’d like to see HR 1 of the next session of Congress abolish every federal department except defense and the mint and return all other responsibilities and revenues to the states, who in return would send a set dollar amount to DC each year to be used specifically for operating revenues for those two departments and playing down the national debt. At least that way we could get rid of all the crazily overinflated federal government and start over.

    That probably qualifies me as a complete nut, too.

  9. A day late…but I’m here. Great post. I would add one other thing to Clinton and that is the President’s Council on Sustainable Development that has become a giant drain on the federal government of grants and subsidies, money we don’t have yet continues to flow like Niagara. What you laid out reminds me of the “Ticking Time Bombs” article I did some time back, looking at the massive programs these presidents have set, but go off exploding for years and years and years after they are out of office. They pay no political price for their crimes of theft against the American population, but waltz off tooting their own horns about what great things they accomplished while the country has been weakened further and further.

    I can’t figure out why anyone thinks or thought any of those items you listed were feasible, politically or not. Agreeing with those others commenting on Paul Ryan. I think his intentions may be good, but what he has proposed is hardly close to the necessary surgery needed to excise the massive debt. Even he says it would barely make a dent, but would be a finger in the dyke.

    On the Irish above…I was born a redhead with green eyes and a Scotch Irish surname. I could not agree more with what he says above! !!! That is what it will take to save the country from economic disaster. Would anyone ever be Irish enough to do it….!

    1. You’re right, Cheryl. My error for leaving out Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development. We who know better have always been a minority and as a result we get the government that the ones who do not know better deserve. I see no reason to believe this is going to change any time soon.

      BTW, dear friend, those the come from my father’s homeland are referred to as Scots or Scottish. Scotch is a whiskey and a very fine one at that. 🙂

  10. “Political feasibility is defined as the extent to which officials and policymakers are willing to accept and support a particular piece of public policy.”

    Political feasibility = reelection.

    On Ryan’s budget, it is disappointing to me that it will not balance the budget for years, but then not all balanced budgets are truly balanced, and I don’t know about his. It seems to me that we SHOULD balance the budget to deny further spending to allow paying down the debt. And that we should cut EVERY possible expense, starting with foreign aid, including every category of foreign aid – and every cut we make is dedicated to the debt – not a penny spent.

    I’m certainly not a budget analyst, but know that we need more than just a plan. We need a strong commitment.

  11. I respect Ryan but his plan like many others does not go far enough. Future projected spending cuts don’t count. We need real cuts, right here, right now.

    Future projected spending cuts? I planned on spending a trillion dollars tomorrow, but now I’m only gonna spend 500 billion…thats 500 billion in cuts.

    REAL CUTS, not fake cuts.

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