Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Guadalcanal? More Like The Battle of the Bulge

Marines go over the wall at Tarawa
I have heard the usual rationalizations from the conservative bloggitry that the Tea Party and Conservatism won this round of the debt ceiling agreement.  About the best I can do is that we didn't get rolled as bad as Reagan did in 1982 or George H.W. Bush did in 1991.  A popular analogy I have heard from several folks is that we on the right should take a deep breath because this is going to be long fight and this was our "Guadalcanal" or "Tarawa."  The theory is that the debt/spending philosophical conflict is metaphorically demonstrated by the island hopping campaign of the United States against the Empire of Japan.  We clawed out every square inch of lava in the Pacific to bring our forces in range of the Japanese main islands for the final blow in 1945.  I would submit that this deal is more analogous to the opening round of the Battle of the Bulge.  We got rolled back, regrouped, and ultimately reclaimed the land the Germans had pushed us out of on our inevitable march to Berlin.

Now before you lefties go berserk saying I'm comparing you to Nazis, take a breather.  Our Vice President thinks that people of my ilk are "terrorists," so let's keep it civil.

The one thing this agreement may have achieved is that the dialogue has now changed..."changed utterly: a terrible beauty is born." (Yeats, Easter 1916)   We are told that the discussions in Washington will now have to center on cuts in the budget rather than new programs...sorry, but I'm not buying it.  One of the absolute easiest places to have cut into the globe-swallowing deficit would have been to have Obamacare on the table with it's projected $2 Trillion price tag and locked in 5% annual increases.  The fact that this monstrous new entitlement was never even whispered about by the Republican side is downright alarming to me.

The business with taxes and how Obama "caved" because he gave up and "compromised" on increasing revenue to the government is false on two fronts.  First, I suspect that the "I've got to have taxes" gambit was nothing more than a red herring...an old negotiating trick to distract the opponent while you zero in on what you really want.  Second, the fix is in on taxes anyway.  As we discussed yesterday, the Bush tax cuts will most likely expire in 2012 resulting in across the board tax increases.  And, as we also pointed out yesterday, the trigger mechanism sets up a Scylla and Charybdis for Republicans on the "super committee:"  "Tax hikes or we gut defense!"  Besides, even Obama can't be stupid enough to want to go into an election season bragging about tax hikes - that would only appeal to the 4% totally brain dead in this country who would vote for him anyway.

No, I suspect Obama's big prize was to not have to fight this fight again before next November.  He can now sit back in comfort over at 1600 PA Avenue and watch the Congress bicker and bash each other...then he can stride in at the next State of the Union address and with a little make-up and some resonant tele-prompting actually appear to be the adult in the room.

All of this does remind me of World War II nonetheless.  There is an inevitability about its outcome.  Just as everyone knew that Germany and Japan's fates were sealed once the "Arsenal of Democracy" entered the war,  there is little that can prevent us from an economic collapse.  Take entitlements alone - by 2052, they will swallow 100% of the budget.  Add in the projected interest on the debt (at current ridiculously low levels!)  and 100% of the budget goes to those categories by 2025...and that does not include the cost of Obamacare!

Sadly, we conservatives are doomed to walk the streets of Berlin circa 1933 at the collapse of the Weimar Republic before we walk into Berlin circa 1945.  And it is here that I draw this past weekend's kerfuffle WWII parallel: it was not the Battle of Guadalcanal, it was the Battle of the Bulge.  One of the opening moves of the Bulge was Operation Grief.  This was when German Waffen-SS commandos snuck behing Allied lines dressed in U.S. uniforms and driving stolen U.S. Army vehicles.  While their mission to seize the bridges over the Muese River failed, they wreaked havoc by disrupting our lines of communication and causing the overall tenor of reaction to slow...it was a psychological masterpiece.  In the end, the Germans ran out of gas - literally, and the American and British forces pushed them back into Germany and into history.
German POW column after the Bulge

I liken the efforts of the liberal punditry and blogosphere these past two days to Operation Greif.  They are busy screaming from the rooftops of how the Tea Party outmaneuvered the administration and "Obama Got Rolled," but methinks the lady doth protest too much.  All of this caterwauling serves as intellectual cover for a lot of Republicans to toss in the towel and vote for the agreement.

But let's be real, it is inevitable that the entitlement programs will collapse or be dramatically altered.  We can't print money fast enough.  The terms of the debate may have been altered, but the outcome is sure.  It will be a prolonged and ugly fight over the very concept of what we want the Federal Government to be.  Both sides do not appear to have the stomach for the fight right now, so the American people will have to fight it out at the ballot box.

1 comment:

John said...

Nice analogy. However with both sides of the debate being more or less equal in size (50% pay taxes and 50% don't) operating under an unequal distribution of funds (70% receiving a subsidy of some kind from the U.S. Government), I do not see any vindication for those "evil terrorists" who pay for this party.

I think the end will occur in a collapse of mutual exhaustion rather than a ringing victory for personal responsibility.

Will the Phoenix rise from the ashes of our financial ruin? I truly hope so for my grandkid's sake.