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Posted by on Mar 3, 2009 in Politics | 18 comments

Moderates Unite

So suggests David Brooks:

Moderates now find themselves betwixt and between. On the left, there is a president who appears to be, as (Clive) Crook says, “a conviction politician, a bold progressive liberal.” On the right, there are the Rush Limbaugh brigades. The only thing more scary than Obama’s experiment is the thought that it might fail and the political power will swing over to a Republican Party that is currently unfit to wield it.

Those of us in the moderate tradition — the Hamiltonian tradition that believes in limited but energetic government — thus find ourselves facing a void. We moderates are going to have to assert ourselves. We’re going to have to take a centrist tendency that has been politically feckless and intellectually vapid and turn it into an influential force.

Bravo, Mr. Brooks. As I responded last week, to an email from Obama’s “Organizing for America” team re: the President’s proposed budget:

This budget is NOT the change I worked for. It’s loaded with deficit spending. I generally don’t oppose the programs recommended, but we can’t do all of it with debt financing. Before I and many other Obama supporters can support this budget, the President and his team need to reduce the amount of deficit spending, and show a way out of it, including how we’ll pay down the mounting debt.

Perhaps Mr. Obama and his team don’t care if I doubt them and take exception to their budget. Perhaps they dismiss Mr. Brooks, as well, who stands exponentially higher on the punditry ladder than I do. That’s fine. I just hope they’re not too terribly surprised when the Senate returns to Republican control in 2010. Know this much: Mr. Brooks and I are not alone.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • greenschemes

    Well I laud your opposition to this insane deficit spending.

    Yes Im a conservative who was overwrought with Bush and his spending and I opposed both wars.

    If you want to fight a war. Borrow the money from Boeing and General Dynamics.

    If you want to have national health care, borrow the money from Hollywood.

    Just stop borrowing it from all of us who dont agree with what you want to spend it on.

  • CStanley

    Huh, moderates having buyers’ remorse as they realize they helped elect a far left liberal to oversee the worst economy in decades.

    Seems that perhaps some of the moderates who initially identified as center right and initially felt that they should stay in the GOP to help reform it, might have been better off doing so instead of believing without any evidence that Obama was going to govern as a centrist.

  • greenschemes


    I did not vote for Obama but found myself increasingly fascinated by the BS that he apparently was blowing. I thought “You know he just could be a centrist even though he is most obviously a far left liberal”.

    I am a far right Conservative who really tries hard to be accomodating to those in the middle and those on the left………so if I am like that then why not Obama. He really was a good salesman, but ultimately he is turning out to be nothing more then what every politician who comes along promises.

    “We need to change government. Change, change, change.” Like I said over and over. Really. The only thing that will change “is whose name is on the White House door.”

  • CStanley

    GS- I wasn’t referring to you, but it is interesting to hear that you felt a bit of a pull toward Obama as well. I entertained those thoughts too (in fact I thought, “wow, it would really be a good thing if he’s really going to govern that way”) and particularly after the election, I was hopeful that this might be the case. Now though, I honestly feel like the mask is off and it’s just a matter of time before everyone who’s not inclined toward big government progressivism sees the reality.

  • Jim_Satterfield

    So, Pete, you’re saying that no matter how badly the Republicans behave in the next two years you’ll vote for them? That it doesn’t matter if they propose any real solutions to the many problems facing our society and just attack the opposition? What Republicans are out there to be put in office who have a realistic take on what’s happening now? Do you dismiss out of hand the Obama administrations proposals to reduce the deficit in the long run? I saw no mention of them in your post.

  • HemmD

    I’d be happy to hear any solutions from the right is these matters. It’s been obvious that the right doesn’t like what Obama is trying to do.
    And your solutions for the Recession, the Credit crisis, and a Health care system that puts American companies at an economic disadvantage? Your solutions are what exactly?

    • AustinRoth

      HD – the ‘solutions’ for true Conservatives? Simple. No bailouts.

      Take the relatively short-term pain of allowing the banks, car manufacturers, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, etc., and individuals to fail and use bankruptcy to provide either re-organization protection or liquidation. As as I said, painful, but necessary. Any other solution just keeps trying to push the day of reckoning out further, and makes things worse.

      I think right now that all the bailout efforts cannot even accomplish the goal of pushing things out, so in the end they are robbing us of capital and setting us up for an inflationary period, maybe even a hyper-inflationary period, that will last 5 years or more unless we cut off the spigot now.

      And despite the love affair with Socialized Medicine by the left, which is not shared by too many who actually live in places with Socialized Medicine, there really is no ‘crisis’. There is just a ‘feeling’ that everyone deserves the same level and availability of health care irregardless of means, which while noble sounding just isn’t a sustainable model. Just look at how the attempt at ‘everyone should be able to buy a house’ mentality has worked out for the US.

      And while I don’t necessarily feel we need tax cuts, I do think that any significant increase in tax rates will be, as they ALWAYS are, counterproductive.

      • HemmD

        The US is the only civilized industrial nation in the world that does not provide some form of universal health care for its citizens. Ignoring that fact for philosophic reasons is just plain dumb. Employer based medical costs hurt American businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage globally. Conservatives want an unfair playing field for American business?
        As to failure being an option, see my response to GS. AIG failing means Europe fails. Europe fails, and the Pacific ring has nowhere to sell its products. Global depression is not “relatively short-term pain,” even by conservative estimates.

        • AustinRoth

          AIG is a special, global problem, and should be dealt with by a global consortium, not from a US-centric perspective. I agree it cannot be allowed to fail.

          Short-term (2 – 5 years) for the rest is certainly better than 10 – 15 years, which is the minimum if we continue down the current path.

          We can agree to disagree on health insurance.

  • greenschemes


    I will give you one thing. The GOP really doesnt have a lot of answers for most anything other then Cut taxes.

    It will take them awhile to realize that cutting taxes is not the answer because even though its been shown that lower taxes generate more revenue then higher taxes, our politicians just simply spend more money and we still have budget deficits.

    So until the GOP actually comes up with a basket of proposals that have teeth, they are marginalized and now with the demonizing of Rush Limbaugh now that GWB is gone, they are piling on. Not that they have answers themselves.

    As I posted on another article today.

    If we want to see what America will look like under Far left liberal government……look no farther then California. They are very nearly broke. Have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and their property values are beyond silly. I for one do not want America to look like California so I will continue to be a voice of opposition to far left policies no matter how nice they sound. UNLESS and UNTIL we can pay for them without borrowing.

  • greenschemes


    While it is true that the GOP does not have much of any solutions right now. I would like to know what is the plan that the Democrats have proposed other then to nationalize everything in site.

    Honestly I have seen no plan. Other then 50 million to save the mouse. Harry Reids personal train from LA to Las Vegas. Millions and millions to starving artists. I mean what are the democrats plan?

    I have been waiting for a coherent plan and all they are doing is throwing money at the economy and hoping.

  • HemmD

    Kind of articulates my point. Grousing about imaginary mice and “personal trains,” (both of which are nowhere mentioned in the Stimulus), how do you wish to proceed?
    You want to allow AIG to fail? Fine. What do you do with the 13 Trillion in Insurance policies it is currently on the hook for? Let them default? Europe will not exactly be happy with that. Then you can help solve the World wide depression by not spending money.
    Borrowing money from future generations does one thing right now that all the philosophic, fiscal conservatism does not. It attempts to guarantee a future at all.
    I don’t want to spend this money either, got any other ideas?

  • cynicalone

    Knock back all marginal tax rates to those under Clinton. Institute a 10% federal VAT.
    Then you might come close to paying for everything in Obama’s budget.
    The idea that you can just raise the top two marginal rates to pay for all of this is insane.
    Not one single European Social Democracy functions under the narrow tax base proposed by Obama.
    His budget is a recipe for US default.

    • HemmD

      How much does an individual save in taxes when they are unemployed? What about a company that can’t get short term credit, does it tax rate go down when it goes in default?

      His budget may be not to your liking,fine. Tell how to address the three problems we face today. Unemployment in a service economy exceeding 20 %. If we let all those banks, auto companies, and mortgages fail, 20% unemployment is optimistic.
      What do you do for credit or federal income, and how do you take care of 15-20 million unemployed? At a minimum, they eat less and get sick. They have no insurance, so they go to the nearest emergency room. Now your insurance premiums go up 30% to cover the additional costs. Medicare and Medicaid go through the roof. The federal government goes hugely into debt to deal with the lack of income through taxes and the spiraling costs of unemployment numbers that approach those of the Great Depression.
      How do you avoid this scenario by leting things fail?

  • skylights

    Deficit spending is exactly what we need in this situation. It’s the only way to avoid a depression.

  • cynicalone

    I am not arguing against stimulating the economy in this time of need.
    Nor, am I necessarily against everything proposed in the budget.
    I am opposed to instituting all of these programs at once without any feasible funding source.
    Stabilize the economy first and then institute these programs.
    We will accumulate a huge federal debt during this crisis.

    Wait a minute.
    Obama’s budget has nothing to do with stimulus.
    It is new programs that the Democratic Party would like to institute.
    You are trying to tie the budget to the various stimulus packages.
    Additional points you need to make:
    tax cuts for 95% of Americans
    Fiscal Responsibility – repeat that several times, even if it is a lie.

    I also have those bullet points.

  • pacatrue

    There are a couple problems with solving one problem first, specifically economic recovery, and then moving on to the next one:

    1) Health care, environment, and energy are all extremely tough problems by themselves. We’ve been putting off and putting off any solutions to them for at least a decade (and really more). We need to start trying to solve these problems now, so that we have time to screw up and try again.

    2) Many of the people who are saying we should do these other issues later have been fighting these same issues back when we had no economic recession and even when we had surpluses. For me to trust that we’d actually deal with things like energy later, the opponents of doing it now need to display some evidence that they ever in fact wish to tackle the problem. Otherwise, it comes off as a red herring. (This is not a comment to some on this board who indeed seem to have real fiscal conservative principles but have also displayed an interest in tackling issues in the past. It is directed to others who have reason after reason to never tackle an issue like energy in a serious way (drill baby drill is not serious.).)

    3) Many of the problems are indeed related. The rise in health care is one of the primary reasons our government cannot stay in the black. It has to be dealt with. Energy as well of course.

    Now, these points all have counter arguments as well. I was wondering if anyone has an idea how to tackle the economic crisis, health care, energy, and global warming WITHOUT running deficits. Obviously, that would be the better solution, so I’d love to hear it. Final thought: I’m guessing the current budget is a typical starting point budget. Everyone who wrote it expects that large portions will disappear to get it passed, so you ask for more than you’d ever actually expect. If this is the case, then it’s additionally appropriate to push back.

  • HemmD

    If I wanted to talk bullet points, I’d go to eithe The Daily KOS or…. That’s not why either of us are here.

    Obama’s budget is stimulative. It’s also exactly what he’s proposed for the past two years.He’s trying to make America ready for the realities of the new world economy that will come out of this mess. I don’t know if it will all work. I do see a coherent plan on his part.

    I do know he has included 250B for further bailouts.
    He’s included two wars that haven’t been part of any budget in 8 years.
    Call these bullet points as a way a deflecting my points, but they are still true.

    I am not saying any of this in support of any political party or political philosophy. I simply think that Obama is easily the smartest guy we’ve had as President in my lifetime. That starts with Truman.
    And I believe he is trying to solve the worst set of problems any President in my lifetime has faced.

    I’m a pragmatist. And I’ll take any idea from anybody as long as its a good one.This whole exchange came about because many want to espouse why what he’s doing won’t work. All I continue to ask is “OK, what will work/” As people have replied, I have put out what I see as the consequence of their actions may produce.

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