Friday, November 18, 2011

There Will Be Blood, Why Does Every Budget Action Have to Be Such a Drama?

The Guns Turn to Newt
 Poor Mitt Romney.  Do you remember that girl or guy that you really liked in high school?  The one for whom you did sweet things.  You let her (or him) copy your homework.  You gave her a ride when she needed one.  You were always there as a shoulder to cry on.  But you were always the best friend, never the boyfriend.  She liked you, but she was always falling in love with some other guy, never appreciating what was right in front of her.

Mitt Romney was a Republican that managed to win in Massachusetts.  While there, he governed as conservatively as that blue state can be governed.  He worked across the aisle - because he had to.  He had a record of restraining spending and taxes.  He was popular, with Republicans and Democrats alike.  He left office with a strong economic record.  He's also a well-spoken, smart, good lucking (and amazingly young looking for his age) guy who was successful in business before he was successful in government.

But it appears poor Mitt can't ever close the deal to get that elusive date with the GOP girl. 

First, Donald Trump, a blow hard who was utterly unqualified in almost every way to be President led poor Mitt in the polls.  That's okay, Mitt must've thought, every girl wants to date a wild man once before she settles down with a stable guy.  Donald's time came and went quickly.

Then Rep. Michele Bachmann, straight out of the lunatic wing of the party surged ahead of him in the polls.  That's okay, Mitt must've thought, everybody wants to date a pretty face, but that girl will come back to me once she realizes she can't carry on an intelligent conversation with the congresswoman.  And leave Michele the GOP girl did.

Next, the GOP girl had a fling with Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Old Mitt must surely have thought, hey, I know that southern twang is sexy, but is she every going to notice the guy right in front of her?  I mean, this guy is an idiot once you get past his accent and hair!  Oh well, surely she'll come around to me next.

But it wasn't Mitt next.  Tired of dating politicians, the GOP girl decided she wanted a smooth talker.  You know, who'd been out in the world.  Someone who could turn a phrase and tell a joke.  Herman Cain was boyfriend number 4, right up until he sexually harassed her.  Mitt was there for the GOP girl, a shoulder to cry on.  Maybe, at long last, he'd get that date.

But it was not to be, at least not yet.  The GOP girl decided she wanted a father figure.  The wise, intelligent guy who'd been around the block.  She wanted a date with Newt Gingrich.

And Mitt waited and waited.....

Gingrich is already ahead in some national polls and only 2 points behind in New Hampshire (New Hampshire!) in one poll.  Will he fall like the last 4 challengers to Romney?  It's too early to tell.  I said to bet on Romney from day 1 and I'm still betting on him to take the nod in the end.  So are the Intrade betters, who peg Romney's chances at winning the nomination at 69%.

You see, even though Newt has been in the race since jump street, he has never really been tested.  All of the other candidates have been playing nice with Newt because, up until now, he hasn't represented a threat.  Don't count on that next Tuesday.  Romney and company will be going for the jugular and we'll have to see how Newt stands up to the pressure.  He has a checkered past, personally (some ugly divorces and infidelity), politically (remember, he was ousted from the speaker's seat in shamed disgrace) and professionally (how'd those big consulting deals with Fannie Mae go?) and we can expect to be reminded of that directly.

There will be blood....and the President is in the White House laughing about how a guy with 42% approval might be a favorite to win a second term.

Another Last Second Budget Move, Another Bipartisan Deadlock
Congress has passed another interim spending measure, attached to a so-called "minibus" appropriations bill that funds a few smaller departments (Agriculture, Transportation, HUD, Justice and Commerce) while extending funding for all other government agencies for another month, setting up yet another lovely drama for December, just before the Christmas break.  The bill is called a "minibus" because it combines several departments, but not all the departments as would be the case in an "omnibus" bill.

With this backdrop, the deficit reduction Super Committee appears deadlocked, although they may reach another magical, dramatic, 11th hour compromise (sarcasm intended.)  Even if they don't, the ominous sounding automatic cuts to discretionary and defense budgets won't even take effect until 2013, so Congress will have plenty of opportunity to change the law to avoid the cuts and kick the can down the road again.

The choices to solve the deficit are simple.  I wish everyone involved would put just 1% of their hubris aside and actually negotiate in good faith.  The GOP ISN'T going to get a deal that doesn't involve tax increases.  And the Dems AREN'T going to get all the money from the rich while not touching entitlements.  It doesn't work that way.

Where is that third party when you need it?

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