Here is the essence of a letter I sent recently to the editors of the Wall Street Journal, one of several somewhat-conservative groups that seem afraid that Sen. Cruz might be a threat to Republicans’ recent gains rather than one who contributed importantly to such gains:
Holman Jenkins (“The Tea Party And The Entitlement Fight,” 10/18/13) is late to the party, but at least he, unlike the rest of the Journal’s editorial group, finally got there. Yes, there is method to the seeming madness of Ted Cruz: Sen. Cruz is not interested in a group hug over kicking the can of fiscal-policy reform a few more miles down the road, and he seems to understand that keeping Treasuries (and equities) afloat until the 2014 elections is NOT a good election strategy for the GOP.
Sen. Cruz probably knows that the Karl Rove wing of the GOP has no more sense of how close we are to a financial meltdown than do the Lefties, so the moderate Republicans are hardly the best group to be in charge of explaining Milton Friedman and bond-market death-spirals to the masses. On the other hand, everyone knows, whether in mind or at heart, that ObamaCare cannot possibly work. Why waste time and money trying to turn the voters into conservative, free-market economists, when all you need to do is show them that the Republican Party – just like most voters – understands and hates ObamaCare and has hated and opposed it consistently from Day One, and by the way the GOP has a great alternative plan that will actually lower healthcare costs AND avoid rationing of services. Maybe Cruz could even convince the GOP leadership to throw in a set of Ginsu knives.
Regarding Jenkins’s comments on reforming Social Security and Medicare, he is off the mark in claiming that good conservatives (such as he) are fundamentally opposed to those programs because they do not meet his criterion of being need-based. First of all, each of those “entitlements” is deeply “progressive” (i.e., need-based) – it gives a lot less bang for the buck to those of greater means: Social Security pays way more in benefits-per-dollar-contributed by lower-income taxpayers, and Medicare provides the same level of healthcare to lower-contributors as it does to higher-contributors. Not only that, Social Security benefits are taxed twice, each time under our progressive income-tax rate-scale. Many conservatives think both Social Security and Medicare are well worth saving – though in need of serious reform. Pres. Bush’s cautious foray into Social Security reform, was well-conceived; it failed because he focused more upon privatizing the ownership of contributions than upon addressing the solvency issue. Good idea, poorly promoted, bad timing.
The problem with tackling entitlement-reform today is, the subject is so complex that it would be poor strategery for the Tea Party to address it while the Republicans are still out of power. To paraphrase Alinsky’s paraphrase of Lenin, while they have the guns, we are for peace. Eventually, . . . .