It Still Was A Binary Choice

Well, we are not sure if that is correct grammar but it makes our point.  Jonah Goldberg is still conflating the hard core supporters of The Donald with the large number of us that made the binary choice.  Jonah says in his newsletter:

The best example of this is how I hear everyday that whatever Trump may be doing wrong, it’s still “better than Hillary.” Of course, that’s got a lot of truth to it when it comes to things such as judicial appointments and the fact that we don’t have to put up with the Clintons’ “there’s no eating in the library” officiousness. But now that Trump is president, it’s utterly irrelevant, save to those who need to reassure themselves daily.  [Emphasis added]

For those of us who chose The Donald because he is not Herself it is completely relevant.  We get real judges.  We get presidential actions that sometimes improve the economy or the country.  We get a reduction in illegal immigration.  We get terrible ideas on trade.  The Donald is far from perfect but he is better than the alternative.  The Donald shares much with the immediate past president (IPP) including incompetence in office.  He is, however, an upgrade on the IPP.  We are with Jonah on the basic point that The Donald, like the IPP, is a better campaigner than president.  It is not surprising that they both fall back on those skills.  What Jonah needs to accept (and move on) is that many/most of us recognized it when we voted for him.  We need to make The Donald the best president he can be.  We support him when appropriate and take him to task often.  We recognize that he is not going to be great but we expect him to continue to be an upgrade on both Herself and the IPP.  The was the choice we foresaw for November and it is why we chose The Donald in the general.

Tax Choices

Political decisions about taxes are not yet at the binary choice stage.  Congress critters, lobbyists, and The Donald are all trying to create support for some portfolio of tax changes.  We will review a number of proposals on three parameters.  First, is it a good idea?  Second, what are the prospects and third, is it worth fighting either for or against?

Eliminate the gas tax and replace it with a carbon tax with roughly the same impact on gas prices.  This is a great idea but it is mice to the GOP elephants.  We wouldn’t fight for it but we would love to see it get the Democrats on board for a portfolio of reasonable reforms.  We know it is exceedingly unlikely but we need to mention it.

We won’t provide details on eliminating all tariffs and the death tax.  We are for both but the former has no chance and the latter is small potatoes.  The Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) is more serious.  It is a bad idea.  The Donald has proposed it but not included it in his tax proposal.  We are against it and hope it is never included.  The rest of the tax bill would need to be great to vote yes on the whole thing that included BAT.

Reduce the corporate tax rate and tie it into reduced taxes on business income from other sources.  This is a great idea.  It should have great growth bang for the buck.  It makes the tax system more rational by taxing business income at one rate rather that giving special status to C corporations.  It is part of The Donald’s proposal so it has a real chance of success.  If the final proposal doesn’t include it we would have a hard time supporting it.  We are not, however, at 15 or fight for the rate.  We could see 20% as the final rate and still be reasonably happy.

We don’t support corporation lobby issues like immediate expensing of assets, special treats for manufacturers, or special treatment of research and development.  There will be lots of lobbying and some of these might get included in the final bill.  Unless they get too extensive we would still support the overall bill.

Reduction of individual rates beyond the Obamacare 3.8 percent surcharge is proposed by The Donald and a big deal to lots of conservatives.  If we have to pick between reducing business rates and reducing personal rates we go with business rates.  We are OK with reducing personal rates but reducing business rates come first.  If the proposal reduced personal rates and not business rates count us as a nay.

We support eliminating deductions except charitable donations and mortgage interest and increasing the standard deduction.  Count us in.  Some, like George Will, also want mortgage interest to be deleted too.  We would be OK with that but recognize the political price of doing it.  Increasing the standard deduction, however, will effectively eliminate the mortgage interest deduction because few folks will have sufficient deductions to exceed the higher standard deduction.

We are not yet to binary choice on taxes.  We need to weigh the costs and benefits of proposed policies with the political practicality of them.  We would like to see a bill that makes substantial progress and can pass.  Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.  At the same time we must fight for the best good.

Health Care Choices

The WSJ thinks we are down to a binary choice on fixing ObamaCare.  They are talking about the slim majority of Republican House members that passed the health care reform they say:

They’ll have to be flexible enough to accept the compromises that are inevitable in a bicameral legislature. The trump card, so to speak, is that this process will yield a binary political choice: Either Members vote for what emerges from the House and Senate, or live with the status quo of ObamaCare.

Every legislative vote is binary in the short term.  Nay or Yea.  Obviously, the alleged binary choice of the first go-around on health care did not turn out to be accurate.  We tend to think that this one is pretty close to binary because the GOP will not be revisiting health care and their majorities may get reduced in 2018.  We think they surely will if they don’t make progress on both health care and immigration.  It isn’t 100% binary like Herself and The Donald but it approaches it.

Binary Choices

We love Jonah Goldberg but wish he would give up the ghost on Never Trump.  Of course there are a few folks that are moving the goalposts with The Donald but it was a binary choice between The Donald and Herself.  So when he says in his newsletter (it isn’t on NRO yet):

Then there are the folks who are mostly-in for Trump. Every day I hear people say on Twitter, “Yeah, he’s flawed but at least he’s not Hillary.” But what kind of standard is that? I’m glad Hillary’s not president. Truly. But if your yardstick for a Republican president — not candidate, but president — is now “He’s better than Hillary,” then you’ve filed down the yardstick to a couple inches. “Better than Hillary” strikes me as the minimum requirement for a conservative president, not an omnibus justification for anything he does.

We probably fit in the mostly-in for Trump.  We had a choice, a binary choice, between Herself and The Donald.  We too are glad that the country agreed with us and made the choice it did.  Sure there are fans of the current president that are as deluded as the fans of our most recent past president.  There are also folks who hated one or the other.  We need to move on from both groups.  Whether you are metric or not the measurement in a binary choice is which one is better.  That is the only measuring stick in a binary choice.  Ex ante we thought The Donald was the choice.  Ex post, or at least after 100 days, that judgment has been confirmed.  We would have preferred that we were starting Mitt’s second term rather than The Donald’s first.  That (and whatever Jonah’s first choice was) wasn’t on the ballot and Jonah needs to remember that.

Not A Binary Choice

Recently we saw a magazine headline that went something like: Is Trump A Plutocrat Or Fascist?  An Internet search reveals that the magazine is Harper’s. You have to subscribe to see it.  We knew that it wasn’t worth a look given the title.  This is not a binary choice like The Donald or Herself.  We went to Wikipedia to see what choice we were being given.  We found this on plutocracy (nope, it is not being ruled by beings from Pluto):

Plutocracy is a form of oligarchy and defines a society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens. The first known use of the term was in 1652. Unlike systems such as democracycapitalismsocialism or anarchism, plutocracy is not rooted in an established political philosophy. The concept of plutocracy may be advocated by the wealthy classes of a society in an indirect or surreptitious fashion, though the term itself is almost always used in a pejorative sense.  [Emphasis added, footnotes and pronunciation deleted]

And this on fascism:

Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and control of industry and commerce ….  the term is instead now usually used pejoratively by political opponents.  [Emphasis added, footnotes and pronunciation deleted]

In fact, Wikipedia has an entry on fascist as an insult with a great quote by George Orwell in footnote one.  So the magazine has tried to create a binary choice on which way to insult The Donald.  There are lots of telling things to say about The Donald.  One is that he is not a political philosopher and that means that he is neither a fascist or plutocrat.  We suggest that folks find better ways to insult him.


More Binary Choices With VDR

Veronique De Rugy (VDR) at the Corner wants to talk about the GOP health care bill and binary choices.  Let’s go to the text:

As he did during the presidential election, Speaker Ryan likes to say that tomorrow’s vote is “a binary choice,” and that this bill is “the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare.” I disagree.

Well, VDR might be disagreeing with the first quote, binary choice, or with the second quote.  If the disagreement is with the second quote then it is entirely plausible that there will be other chances.  It does seem unlikely but possible.  If VDR is talking about a binary choice then she is wrong once and likely twice as she seems to disagree about the election.  Just like the election there are two choices.  In the election there was Herself and The Donald.  Now our Congress Folk will vote yea or nay.  In both decisions folks can opt out but that only means that others will make the binary decision for them.

We are a big fan of VDR.  We agree with many of the concerns and would highly likely vote for a bill VDR wrote. It is not, however, one of the choices.  Will Congress vote to keep Obamacare or repeal and replace.  The issue is which is better.

Binary Choices And Not

Conservatives have confused themselves about binary choices.  Herself and The Donald was a binary choice.  Sure, you could vote present or write-in some fun choice but that was just letting other people make the choice.  Ben Shapiro is trying to sell us a binary choice about the political future:

Up: Americans realize that politicians who guarantee them free things are lying to them, and they react by re-enshrining the Founders’ bargain, limiting government to minimize the impact of lying politicians.

Down: Americans distrust everyone in politics but simultaneously embrace the lies of their own side, justifying tissue-thin conspiracy theories that put the other side at a disadvantage, breaking down the social fabric and the political discourse until all faith in the system disappears completely.

We are the champion of binary choices and we can safely say that this isn’t one.  There are always a variety of strata of folks that make political choices base on different portfolios.  The choice is not the Founders’ bargain or anarchy.  We think The Donald will move us closer to the Founders’ bargain and Herself would have moved us in the other direction.  We will not get to either of Ben’s choices in the near term.  No choice we made in 2016 would have done it.