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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

An Indians Fan Looks At The Budget Deal

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A deep skepticism inhabits fans of the Tribe, which is useful in other contexts, including assessments of Friday’s budget deal.

On the other hand, the Indians did win their seventh in a row yesterday.

And Ohio is in the heart of the great American “gas revolution” reviewed by Steven Hayward in this week’s Weekly Standard.

So if winning baseball and jobs are both returning to northeast Ohio, perhaps anything can happen, even a serious budget deal in the fall.

But don’t count on the president or the Senate’s gang of six to deliver the deal. When Democrat Budget Chair Kent Conrad dismissed Paul Ryan’s plan out-of-hand last week he signalled that the “gang of six” talks he had been running with two other Democratic senators and Republicans Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, and Mike Crapo was a rigged game, one not open to genuine reform of the sort Ryan laid out. When their plan is trotted out this week, look for lots of tax hikes, including even the disastrous attempt to pare back the mortgage interest deduction with a consequent new blow to home values in America.

And from the president? I expect lame rhetoric, and a request that everyone come sit down and reason together. What he needs to do as president is what George W. Bush did in 2005 –put out a specific set of proposals on entitlement reform for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He won’t, and I am guessing that this will be a campaign speech fancied up as a deficit reduction address, an unveiling of a class-based wedge strategy that argues the answers to America’s problems are higher taxes and spending on infrastructure.

Hopefully the three Republicans with the most visibility, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, will have responses ready on Thursday to the president’s Wednesday speech, responses which state simple agreement with any good idea the president puts forward but which also quickly and firmly refuse the idea of higher taxes as a solution and which rally the public to the Ryan plan.

Friday’s “deal” was like April baseball, and like the Indians’ fans happy with the club’s start, conservatives have something to be hopeful about, but not a lot of reason for real confidence.

And the last thing we need to do is assume the other side doesn’t intend to win big.

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