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The Daily Banter Mail Bag! Austerity! The Tea Party! And a Fight!


Welcome to this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mailbag! Today, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss austerity and Keynesian economics, the tea party and political fisticuffs.

The questions:

1) Do you think the Pan-European strikes and protests, and/or the decisive de-facto rejection of austerity by the U.S. in re-electing Obama two weeks ago will send the message to Europe that Keynesianism is the better path to prosperity instead of endless and punitive austerity and obsessive preoccupation with debt?
-- Christopher

Bob: The election of President Hollande in France is sending stronger signals against austerity than Obama's re-election. One way or another the fiscal cliff negotiations will end up including spending cuts -- but the extent of which is uncertain right now. However, if we go over the cliff, there will be both austerity and tax hikes. Short answer to your question: too early to call.

Chez: There were a lot of big words in there. I'm very confused now. Actually, I don't know how Europe will react, given that it should've figured out a long time ago that austerity doesn't work. Certainly a new round of protests likely won't convince European leaders since none of the protests up until now haven't had much impact. As for the American people making the decision to take a pass on strangling themselves, I'm not sure that'll have much of an effect either. Hold on, let me get a ruling from our resident European. Ben?

Ben: It's an interesting dynamic Christopher, particularly given Europe has traditionally believed in government intervention in the economy, while the opposite has been true in the States. The situation is now in reverse, and the results are pretty clear when it comes to pulling out of a recession - government stimulus works, while cutting back does not. Does the re-election of Obama send a message to Europe? I'm not sure, but President Obama will certainly apply some soft pressure to ensure Europe doesn't keep going in the same direction as the US is directly affected by what is happening in Europe. Europe is a major market for its exports, and the US is increasingly worried about the trade gap widening. The situation in Europe isn't getting any better after round after round of austerity measures, so it's in America's interests to encourage Europe to get in line with more government spending to revive their economies.

2) What are the odds moderate Republicans will abandon the Tea Partiers and evangelists and form a third party, trying to capture fiscally conservative Democrats?
-- Tony

Bob: None. At least not yet. The Moderate Republicans are inextricably tied to the tea party via the "conservative entertainment complex," as David Frum called it, and no one in the party would dare piss off Limbaugh and the thousands of others on AM radio and Fox News. Republicans can't survive without their PR.

Ben: I think you're seeing moderate Republicans doing that already. Bobby Jindal has already publicly rebuked Romney's latest 47% comments, and Bill Kristol is calling on support for raising taxes for millionaires (and Kristol is not a moderate by any stretch). The Republicans know they are in deep trouble with regards to Americas' changing demographics, and they are floundering around trying to figure out what to do about it. It's going to take one seriously brave moderate to stand up and tell the Tea Party to disappear, and Rush Limbaugh to STFU (that's internet slang - look it up if you don't understand), but that has to happen if the Republicans want to remain relevant. Republicans can't really go any further to the Right, so it's really the only thing they can do - go for fiscally conservative Democrats by moderating their positions and reigning in the crazies.

Chez: Slim to none. I think if anything it'll be the other way around -- another insurgent uprising from the farthest-right of the party. The Tea Party may be dead, but something new will rise to take its place and once again hold the moderates hostage. But I really don't think even that's going to happen. The Republicans will either learn their lesson and tamp down on their fringe -- which is unlikely -- or they'll continue to embrace the crazy and fail on a grand scale a good portion of the time nationally.

3) Who would win in a rumble between President Obama and the tag team of McCain and Graham? Condition - the President has to fight while holding Joe Biden on his back.
-- Jason

Chez: Can Biden swing?

Bob: Now we're talking -- a Master-Blaster Obama/Biden set-up versus McCain, whose bark is far worse than anything his old man bite could deliver, and Graham who I suppose could pack a mean karate chop. No contest. I'm easily giving this to the Master-Blaster. Of course my Master-Blaster metaphor is merely stylistic and doesn't intend to connote that Biden is a dwarf or the president is a developmentally disabled behemoth. I'll stop now.

Ben: That's not a fight, that's a massacre. McCain is well into his 70's and Lindsey Graham is about as macho as Nancy Pelosi. Obama would thrash the pair of them, even with Biden attached to his back and jabbering away. Actually, Biden talking could sway the odds a little....


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