Friday, March 04, 2011

And The Beat Goes On

... with Peggy Noonan noting that our national debates about debt are now driven by math more than ideology.
The seemingly small thing is that the battles in the states, while summoning emotions from all sides, are not at their heart emotional. Yes, a lot of people are waving placards, but it's also true that suddenly everyone's talking about numbers; the numbers are being reported in the press and dissected on talk radio. This state has a $5 billion deficit; that state has projected deficits in the tens of millions. One estimate of New Jersey's bill for health and pension benefits for state workers over the next 30 years is an astounding $100 billion—money the state literally does not have and cannot get. The very force of the math has the heartening effect of squeezing ideology right out of the story. It doesn't matter if you're a liberal or a conservative, it's all about the numbers, and numbers are sobering things.
The Democrats, particularly the president, and the unions are fighting math.
(In a battle with Governor Chris Christie over benefits, the New Jersey) teachers union decided, in an epic political drama in which arithmetic is the predominant fact, to ignore the math.
Assume for a second that Wisconsin Governor Walker is the worst politician in the history of Man. Assume that he's incapable of making his point with the voters. It doesn't matter. Eventually, he will be replaced by a competent politician and the math will still be there. The Democrats can at best only find a temporary escape from defeat because the force of the argument is numerical, not ideological.


Jeff Burton said...

It ain't ideological. It's personal. I was talking to a state trooper the other night at a church function. He described himself as "to the right of Pat Buchanan." But he hates Walker. Called him a snake. Because he believes (probably rightly) that after Walker takes care of the teachers et al, he will come after the police and firefighters. And this trooper, who is "all for fiscal conservativism", sees his own economic situation threatened. He doesn't care about the math, and he doesn't care about [his own] ideology. He just cares about what's he might not get.

This is bleak. Very bleak. Refer to that recent poll that showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans think Social Security and Medicare should be off limits to budget cutting. When this attitude collides with the math, as you put it, Madison, WI will be writ large. And ideology will have little to do with it.

B-Daddy said...

Noonan appears to be channeling your previous posts.

People change when confronted with survival issues, change is hard, but not impossible. Even though I am a federal employee, with no bargaining rights, I might add, I applauded Obama's pay freeze.