Rush Limbaugh speaks from a place a little deeper in the political weeds than most Americans – most Americans whom he accurately describes as “the low-information voter population in this country.” But it’s how the anti-progressive political junkies like me feel and have felt for a long time. It goes a long way toward explaining my dearth of blogging as of late. Ask my wife how many times I’ve said to her recently that I’ve said it all before, and I’ve been saying it for twenty years, and nothing ever really changes for the better.
The whole transcript follows (also go to his site to hear the audio):
Folks, I’m sorry here. I can’t help but think that we are all being played for a bunch of fools, a bunch of suckers on this sequester business. I don’t know. Are you like me? Do you really think 800,000 people are gonna lose their jobs in the Pentagon because we cut $22 billion? Do you really think air traffic control’s gonna shut down? Do you really think there aren’t gonna be any meat inspectors? Do you really think that all of these horror stories are going to happen? I don’t.
I feel like I’ve been here. This is deja vu all over again. I remember the 1995 budget battle. That involved a legitimate government shut down. That wasn’t just $22 billion we were not gonna spend. We’re still gonna spend $3.5 trillion. We’re just not gonna spend $22 billion, if it happens.
Now, the government shutdown in 1995, yeah, we were gonna starve kids. That was the plan then. I’m just kidding. Snerdley I’m sorry, it’s all ridiculous to me. Every bit of this. I’ve been doing this — you get new perspective. I’m into my 25th year, and I think I mentioned to you last week and maybe the week before, I’ve been doing this long enough now to start seeing the repeat cycles on everything. I don’t care whether it’s the debt limit or the fiscal cliff or continuing resolution or the budget crisis of 2008 or TARP or the auto bailouts, and now the sequester, it’s the same playbook.
It is the same threats. It’s the same danger. It’s the same crisis. It’s identical. There’s nothing about it that changes, over and over. And everybody gets sucked into it. I try to escape, I try to get out of it, I try to leave it aside, I try to move on, but it just sucks me back in, too, until I realize that I have been sucked back in. And then there’s a part of me that says, “Well, wait a minute now.” You got not just Panetta, but now a uniformed military general, General Odierno, saying that he could lose 600,000 uniformed people, and the common sense of this doesn’t add up. Now we’ve got a guy comparing this to the Oklahoma City bombing.
RUSH: Everything gets repeated. The cycle, the claims, the threats, the crisis, Armageddon, it’s the same. And we’re talking $22 billion. It’s not as though we’re not gonna spend anything. If the sequester happens, the first year is $44 billion. Half of that’s defense. We’re still going to spend $3.5 trillion or $3.3 trillion, even if we don’t spend the $22 billion. Then there’s this guy who draws an analogy to the Oklahoma City bombing.
Plus, we have our old buddy Ron Fournier. He used to be at AP, and is now at the National Journal. This is quite instructive, actually. Let me just read a portion of this to you. “You May Be Right, Mr. President, But This Is Crazy — Your federal government is almost certain to blow past the March 1 deadline for averting $1.2 trillion in haphazard budget cuts that could cost 700,000 jobs.” But see, it’s not $1.2 trillion.
It is over ten years, but it’s not this year and it’s not next year. This year’s portion of it is $22 billion. Besides, does anybody really think that, even if the sequester happens, it’s not gonna get fixed for ten years? Anyway… “Don’t worry. We know who to blame. President Obama makes a credible case that he has reached farther toward compromise than House Republicans.” He has? Well, I guess he has, since the media says so. “President Obama makes a credible case that he has reached farther toward compromise…”
“But knowing who’s at fault,” writes Mr. Fournier, “doesn’t fix the problem. To loosely quote Billy Joel: You may be right, Mr. President, but this is crazy. Is this fiscal standoff (the fifth since Republicans took control of the House in 2011)…” Is that not an interesting perspective, by the way? It’s not “the fifth standoff since Obama was inaugurated.” No, no. It’s “the fifth standoff since Republicans took control of the House” two years ago. “Is this fiscal standoff … just about scoring political points, or is it about governing?”
Unbeknownst to Mr. Fournier, he has now swerved right into my theory: Political points versus governing, and he says it’s all about politics. “If it’s all about politics, bully for Obama. A majority of voters will likely side with the president over Republicans in a budget dispute because of his popularity and the GOP’s pathetic approval ratings.” Speaking of that, I don’t want to depress you out there, but Obama’s approval rating is as high as it’s been since 2009. It’s 55%.
The Republicans’ approval is as low as it’s been since 2009. Chris Christie goes on Letterman, eats a doughnut, and he’s at 74% approval. Christie is at 74%. Obama is at 55%, his highest approval in four years. But then Mr. Fournier writes, “If it’s all about politics, bully for Obama” but “[i]f it’s about governing, the story changes” for Obama ” Yes, siree, Bob. That’s my whole point. “You see,” as Mr. Fournier writes, totally unaware that he’s totally confirming my brilliant theorem of last week, “If it’s about governing, then the story changes for Obama.”
Because “in any enterprise, the chief executive is ultimately accountable for success and failure. Sure, blame Congress — castigate all 535 lawmakers, or the roughly half you hate. But there is only one president. Even if he’s right on the merits, Obama may be on the wrong side of history. Fair or not, the president owns this mess.” Mr. Fournier, I disagree with you. He doesn’t. That is the whole point. The president does not own this mess. His approval rating wouldn’t be 55% if he owned this mess.
He is not governing, Mr. Fournier. You’ve stumbled into this and I’m here to alert you how right you are. You don’t even know it. He’s not governing. It’s all about politics. Congress is being blamed for this. The Republicans are being blamed. Obama is just the outsider trying to fix it all. He’s the guy trying to compromise. He even went out and played golf to try to compromise! He even went out and played golf with Tiger Woods to try to compromise, and still the Republicans resist.
“Fair or not, the president owns this mess.” He doesn’t own this mess. Even though it was his idea. Even though he will choose if the sequester happens where there are cuts. (He will choose it!) But as far as the low-information voter population in this country knows, he does not own this mess, Mr. Fournier, and he will not own it. The Republicans own this lock, stock, and barrel. But, Mr. Fournier writes, “What can he do about it? For starters, he could read this op-ed piece published two months ago in a Midwestern newspaper…”
Fournier highlights an op-ed written by a Republican who blames everybody on both sides for it and we all gotta get together and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s what Fournier thinks Obama needs to read. “With a few tweaks, Obama could make it a presidential address. … ‘Americans are fed up with the jousting.… There is a lot of public posturing but apparently not much genuine conversation.’” That gets to the root of what’s bothering me here. The jousting never ends. I just feel like I’m being played for the fool here to get sucked into this narrative and this template every day.
The way all this stuff plays is, I think this whole episode is a big joke on the country. I think this is an insulting joke to everybody. This is an embarrassing spectacle. After 1995, 1993, whatever, I’m getting tired of it. I’m worn out. It’s history repeating itself over and over and over, almost verbatim, from “taking food out of the mouths of children,” to “they’re coming for our children” to “No meat inspectors!” They’re even saying have to close down the sleigh rides in Jellystone Park! That has come up again, like it did in the 1995 budget battle.
RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in my life, I am ashamed of my country. To be watching all of this, to be treated like this, to have our common sense and intelligence insulted the way it’s being insulted? It just makes me ashamed. Seriously, man. Here we get worked up over $44 billion. That’s the total amount of money that will not be spent that was scheduled to be spent this year. In truth, we’re gonna spend more this year than we spent last year.
We’re just not gonna spend as much as was projected. It’s all baseline budgeting. There is no real cut below a baseline of zero. There just isn’t. Yet here they come, sucking us in, roping us in. Panic here, fear there: Crisis, destruction, no meat inspection, no cops, no teachers, no firefighters, no air traffic control. I’m sorry, my days of getting roped into all this are over. We have the media playing along with all this. The ruling class of both parties play along with all this. It’s insulting. I don’t know how else to describe it.
I’m into my 25th year.
I can’t tell you the number of times this has happened. This hit me yesterday. I’ve said the same things over and over for 25 years. Whether the Clinton presidency or the Obama presidency, whether it’s a Pelosi speakership or Tom Foley (who was speaker when I started), it’s the same stuff. It’s the same threats. It’s the same arguments over and over. Nothing ever changes! We just keep spending more money. We create more dependency, we get more and more irresponsible from one crisis to the next, all of them manufactured.
Except for the real crisis, which nobody ever addresses, and that is: We can’t afford any of this.
RUSH: What’s happening here, folks, is we are being played for fools and being suckered — suckered into supporting the never-ending expansion of government, the wholesale destruction of the private economy. Everybody who joins in this debate under the premise that Obama puts forth, as well as debating the politics of this nonsense, is just being used to cover up what’s actually going on. Now, what’s going on is no great conspiracy. It’s no mystery. We’re spending much more money than we have.
The government is getting inexorably larger.
It’s less and less efficient at accomplishing anything. We’re creating more and more dependents. We’re robbing people of their dignity and humanity and of their opportunity to realize their dreams as they turn their lives over to the government. It’s like a never-ending cycle. The government makes the private sector smaller. There are fewer job opportunities. There’s less money in the private sector, less opportunity to accrue wealth. Income taxes and others threaten to go higher; they do go higher.
It all adds up to the government growing, the private sector shrinking, freedom being lost ever so slowly, and nobody ever talks about stopping this. Everybody gets sucked into debating the crisis of the moment according to the terms of the moment, without any context and relationship to the past and a knowable future and a relevant perusal of the present. These little debates take place within their own little universe, as though they’re unaffected by things that have happened in the past.
We hear the most outrageous things. The government’s gonna shut down. Life can’t go on as we know it if we don’t spend $22 billion this year. For 15 to 20 years, I have been behind this microphone, and I’ve actually been defending the accusation that Republicans want to starve children. It comes up — predictably, regularly — and for 15 or 20 years I have been trying to tell people in this country via this radio show, “No, the Republicans are not trying to starve children.”
The allegation itself ought to disqualify the people who make it, because it’s patently absurd. There’s nobody trying to starve anybody in terms of food, but particularly Republicans trying to starve children? Republicans trying to deny people health care? The Republicans want big business to be able to pollute the air? The Republicans want their children living in an economic and environmental sewer? It’s an insult to my intelligence to have to even try to defend this to people.
The idea that there are people who believe it is bad enough. I can understand it once or twice, but for 20 years this cycle has been repeating, and it’s ridiculous. It’s a distraction. Either one of two things is happening: Either more and more people believe this idiocy, or more and more people are just saying, “You know what? I don’t want any part of this,” and they’re not paying attention to it. National Journal has a piece today by Matthew Cooper.
Just when you thought the Drive-Bys could not top themselves with “sequesteria,” we get this. Matthew Cooper is comparing the 2.2% reduction in the rate of spending increase to the Oklahoma City bombing. Now, he immediately says that he’s not making that comparison. But if he’s not, why did he bring it up in relationship to sequestration? That seems the point of his article. It seems that sequestration has a good side that it will show the American public that the government is important, that the American people will learn that we should not demonize the government.
He says the sequester cuts are gonna stop air traffic control.
Well, you know, that’s happened before. Ronaldus Magnus fired the air traffic controllers when they went on strike in the early eighties, and the airplanes still flew, and the airports remained opened. The schools remained open, and the military was still out there firing weapons at bad guys. But we need to live through this sequester so people will find out just how important and relevant government is to their life and how we should not demonize it.
Not only will the sequester stop air traffic control, Mr. Cooper says it’ll end meat inspections. It’ll close Yellowstone. This is exactly what I mean: The budget battle of 1995 was gonna end the sleigh rides at Jellystone National Park. CNN’s Larry King actually got the sleigh ride concessionaire on his TV show, and the sleigh ride concessionaire — who ended up being a conservative — we ended up talking to that guy. He called here, but he was playing it for all it was worth.
Yeah, he went on and he talked about how tough it was gonna be. Nobody was gonna be able to go on the sleigh rides because the government wasn’t gonna be paying him to do it. Remember all the federal employees were going to lose their Thanksgiving turkeys because of the government shutdown. Oh, folks, if you weren’t around then, it was Armageddon — and so is this. But never mind that the world didn’t end when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers.
Never mind that the states have their own meat inspectors and they pay teachers and cops and firefighters. The federal government doesn’t. Never mind that there has to be enough money remaining in the $3.7 trillion budget, after the $44 billion in “cuts” to keep the national parks open and everything else operating. Look at it this way: How much money do you earn a year, $100,000? Just pick a round number. If you earn $100,000 a year, and every now and then the government comes to you and says, “We need to raise taxes.
“You can afford to do without as much as you’re earning. You don’t really need that much. We’re gonna raise taxes because we need to invest in education here, and we need to invest in research and development, and we need to invest in jobs, and we need to invest in infrastructure. So we’re gonna raise your taxes.” You’re expected to not complain and get along with less. Now, the federal government earns a lot more than $100,000 a year. The federal government has $3.7 trillion!
But whereas you are not supposed to complain and you’re supposed to be able to get along just fine with a little tax increase if you make $100,000, the government can’t be expected to continue to operate if $22 billion is subtracted from their $3.7 trillion. This is the equivalent of the government being asked to do without a penny and a half, ladies and gentlemen — and they can’t do it. A penny and a half closes airports and shuts down air traffic control. It shuts down meat inspection.
It shuts down the military’s civilian personnel. A penny and a half out of our budget not being spent. Whereas you are expected to happily pay more and get by just as you have been on a little less next year, the government is never, ever supposed to be able to get by with a little less. Can you imagine if the government came along said, “We want to raise your taxes 10%,” and you said, “Well, no! I won’t be able to afford food. I won’t be able to afford clothes for my kids. I might not be able to afford my mortgage.”
If you used the same arguments on them that they use on you, do you know what they’d do? They’d tell you, “(Raspberry!) Deal with it.” But here we are over and over again.” The American public needs to learn that the sun will rise. That’s what we need to learn: That the sun will still rise and the sky will still be blue and the birds are still gonna chirp after this sequester if it happens. Here’s Mr. Cooper: “The last time I can think of such an educational moment was not the short-lived government shutdown on the ’90s, but the Oklahoma City bombing. …
“In 2001, looking back on the bombing, Clinton said: ‘And I had, like every politician, on occasion, gotten upset by some example of government waste or something the way we all do, and referred derisively to government bureaucrats. And I promised myself that I would never use those two words together for the rest of my life. I would treat those people who serve our country with respect, whether they’re in uniform, in law enforcement, firefighter, nurses, any other things.’”
Then Cooper says, “I’m not comparing the tragedy of Oklahoma City to sequestration.” Of course not. He just compared them! So we can’t even think about cutting federal spending by $22 billion without being accused of disrespecting law enforcement, firefighters and nurses, none of whom are paid for by the federal government. Anyway, this is the predictable course this takes every time such a crisis appears. We just lived through this with the fiscal cliff. We just went through this with the expansion of the debt limit. If it all sounds familiar to you, it’s because it is.
We haven’t had a federal budget in four years, and because of that, we have these never-ending budget crises.