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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nothing New Under the Sun

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9.

That Bible verse has been stuck in my head all weekend. I keep thinking about how many things in the news this week harken back to things that we've already been through. Take, for example, the reprisal of two lines of attack--one from the Right on President Obama, the other from the Left on presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney--that have been tried before and provided fodder for the supporters of their targets.

Bashing Bain

The Obama campaign released a predictably dishonest, two-minute ad spot on Monday, highlighting some steel mill know what? I'm so sick of this story. We've seen this before. We get it, Democrats. You don't like capitalism, except when you're raking in campaign contributions from Wall Street, trust-fund babies, Silicon Valley and/or the entertainment industry. You can say this wasn't an attack on private equity in general, but that claim doesn't hold water, especially since the truth is that Bain & Co. under Romney's leadership was actually one of the tamer, less ruthless, more compassionate private equity firms out there.

The Return of Reverend Wright

As much as they seem to enjoy attacking a man who actually did create and save jobs  (and who put his own money at risk, instead of wasting taxpayer money on loser bets), nothing seems to make the Left quite as horny as the opportunity to argue against their favorite straw man: racially-charged attacks on President Obama. The New York Times gave them that opportunity again this week when it ran a story saying that Republicans were considering a $10 million ad blitz linking President Obama to the incendiary, race-infused diatribes of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. This coincided with Sean Hannity's televised interview with Ed Klein, author of The Amateur, which from what I've heard is one of the most accurate, in-depth accounts of Obama's time as president. On Thursday night's show, Hannity told his audience, "I believe that the president's relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a man that influenced him for over twenty years, inspired him, is a very important campaign issue." (You can imagine the left-wing reaction.)

As for the Super-PAC's proposed ad campaign, by Thursday it became clear that this plan was as dead as a doornail, but that didn't stop the Left from chattering incessantly about it. It was the lead story on The Rachel Maddow Show Friday evening, and every Sunday morning round table I watched took up the topic today.

Debt Debate Redux

House Speaker John Boehner's speech at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit similarly gave the Left an opportunity to reignite the fiery debate over raising the debt ceiling, while at the same time disingenuously claiming that it was Boehner who first expressed a desire to re-hash the fight that transfixed so many around the country (particularly on Wall Street, inside the Beltway and on Sunday morning talk shows) last Summer.  

True, Boehner did harken back to the debate last summer in his speech, but he never, as the Washington Post's Ezra Klein put it, "threaten[ed] the Obama administration with default in order to extract concessions on spending." All he said was that, when it comes time to once again raise the U.S. debt limit, "I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase." (He added, "This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance," but that part hasn't been played over and over again by the TV news media as the preceding sentence has.)

For whatever reasons, Democrats and the media seem all too willing to rehash this fight over the Debt, the deficit and spending. Klein's fellow Postman Dana Milbank wrote on Friday that the Speaker's speech "goes beyond talking down [the economy] and approaches the realm of precipitating a crisis," musing, "Does Boehner want the economy to tank?" Over at, a web site that apparently exists, some guy named Brian Beutler scribbled something about Republicans having "an appetite for debt limit brinksmanship — even after the last round nearly crippled the economy, and left the GOP’s congressional approval ratings in the sewer." (I just have to add what Beutler wrote in the very next sentence so you can all have a good laugh at his pathetic attempt to rewwite history: "When Republicans went home for recess last August, after placing the country’s AAA credit rating at risk, and narrowly avoiding a self-imposed default on the national debt, they caught such an earful from constituents that they spent several weeks toning down their rhetoric and avoiding big public spats with Democrats.") Why left-wingers wants to start this debate up again right now escapes me (unless most of them really are delusional enough to believe that last summer's fiasco irreparably damaged the Republican brand, while Democrats escaped unscathed); the conflict-obsessed mainstream media's motivation for doing the same is less of a mystery. 

Austerity: Never Again

Speaking of deficits, debt and government spending, word out of the G-8 is that multiple European countries are reconsidering the so-called austerity measures that we keep hearing about. (For the record, only three members of the G-8 are in the Eurozone.) This was to be expected from France, whose new president got elected on an anti-austerity platform, but as senior Mercatus fellow and University of Paris alum Veronique de Rugy has explained, the "austerity" policies enacted by the French, British and other European governments lo these past couple years are actually not true austerity. Writes de Rugy:

First, France has yet to cut spending. In fact, to the extent that the French are frustrated with "budget cuts," it's only because the increase in future spending won't be as large as they had planned. The same can be said about the United Kingdom. Spain, Italy and Greece have had no choice to cut some spending. However, in the case of these particular countries, the cuts were implemented alongside large tax increases. In fact, The Washington Examiner's Conn Carroll calculated that "Europe raised taxes by almost €9 for every €1 in actual spending cuts."

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