Is America in trouble no matter who wins the presidency?

Last Friday, I spoke to a local chapter of the Optimist Club. This Friday, I’m going to make sure no one who reads my blog can possibly have any shred of optimism remaining.

Just kidding. Sort of.

In an election season in which the presidential campaigns take turns making mistakes, making one wonder if either candidate really wants to win this thing, Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics lays out a case that neither side should want to win.

It’s the third in a three-part series; the first two installments were an argument for why Barack Obama will be re-elected, and an argument for why Mitt Romney will unseat him. The third piece boils down to: Be careful what you wish for.

Trende cites four factors that, at this point in time, suggest the winner of this election will see his party (or, in Romney’s case, himself) get rocked in the 2014 midterms and 2016 presidential election.

1. The economy. After reviewing the way we have not sprung back from the most recent recession the way we have from previous downturns, Trende notes:

Now consider that the average post-war business cycle lasts about six years from trough to trough. We hit our last trough in mid-2009, which means we should be due for another recession in the next few years.

We could easily begin to contract before we have fully recovered from the last recession. There are already signs that slowdowns in Europe and China are spilling over to our shores. This is probably too late to affect Obama’s re-election chances, but if it turns into a full-blown recession, it would greatly impact 2014 (when 11 Democrats are facing re-election in states that went for George W. Bush).

2. Debt. Here, Trende writes:

The current CBO projection assumes that we will add $3 trillion in debt over the next decade. But the reality is actually much, much worse than that. This assumes that we go off the famous “fiscal cliff” in December and allow all of the Bush tax cuts to expire, allow the full force of the alternative minimum tax to kick in, allow all of the spending cuts agreed to earlier this Congress to kick in, and greatly slash money paid to Medicare providers. Needless to say, if people see their taxes raised, their doctors stop accepting them for care, and we go into a recession, none of this will be popular.

If we assume Congress won’t allow this to occur, then we are looking at the CBO’s “alternate scenario.” It involves an additional $11 trillion in debt over the next few decades.

Even this latter scenario, he notes, is dependent on CBO’s rosy economic growth projections coming true — even though the economy has consistently underperformed CBO forecasts in recent years.

3. Health care. Trende notes that Obamacare is set to get cranked up in earnest in 2014. He imagines two scenarios:

If Obamacare doesn’t work — if seniors really suffer as a result of the benefit cuts to Medicare; if more people get thrown off their employer-sponsored insurance than expected; if insurers get put out of business because people opt to pay the tax rather than get insurance — it will not be a pretty political situation for Democrats.

Even if it works well, there will be problems. Unlike Medicare and Social Security, Obamacare creates obvious winners and losers. We then get to issues of salience: If people who are tossed onto the exchanges are angrier than people who are no longer denied care for pre-existing conditions are happy, there is a political problem for Democrats. If seniors strongly perceive the cuts to Medicare Advantage, but quickly forget about the “donut hole” being closed, there is a political problem for Democrats. There are dozens of such examples. Maybe they cancel each other out, but I wouldn’t bet the proverbial farm on it.

As for Republicans, Trende only maps out a scenario in which a President Romney and Congress repeal the law but don’t replace it with other reforms. Personally, I don’t think that’s the most realistic GOP scenario. But either way, he is probably right that Democrats will claim any shortcomings would have been better under Obamacare and will swing that club against Republicans early and often.

4. Iran. This, Trende says, doesn’t require a lot of theorizing:

In the next few years, one of two things will happen. Either Iran will develop a nuclear weapon, or Israel and the United States will forcibly stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

No American president wants to be the one who oversees the former. And the disruptions that could ensue from the latter would be massive, especially in combination with any of the other factors listed above. Add in the continued difficulties we face in the region in general (as we saw last week), and the problems there are similarly insurmountable.

***

What does all this mean? Is Trende right that either Democrats or Republicans could “win by losing”?

From a purely electoral-politics perspective, maybe. Of course, that would mean neither man is up to the task of creating better outcomes to these challenges. Which is a pretty depressing thought.

But is it a correct thought? Should we really believe America is doomed for the next four years no matter what happens in November?

Let’s hear your arguments why Obama or Romney would avoid disaster on any or all of these four issues. Think of it as a Poll Position without the poll. Just answer in the thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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798 comments Add your comment

yuzeyurbrane

September 22nd, 2012
2:37 pm

Linda @ 1:28–I thought you were strict constructionist of Constitution? Are you saying God’s law trumps Constitution? Who is deciding that? I hope you are not suggesting that Sharia law trumps Constitution? Bad idea.

saywhat?

September 22nd, 2012
2:40 pm

Bruno

September 22nd, 2012
1:29 pm
“Anyone but me notice the deafening silence coming from the Left regarding Romney’s tax returns?? Now that it was revealed that he paid the same rate as Obama over the past 20 years, it’s all of a sudden a non-issue”
_____________________________________________________
Keep telling yourself that if it helps you sleep at night. Oh, and if by “deafening silence”, you mean stuff like this: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/333320
yeah, we heard it, because there is plenty more where that came from. You just have to step out side your rightwing echo chamber to hear it.

Romney is toast.

Linda

September 22nd, 2012
2:45 pm

…”O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Nope. It’s now waving over the land of the freeloaders & the home of the naive.

And Obama defaced it. What happened to the 50 stars & the rest of the stripes?
I guess he got tired of watching his friends in the Middle East burning the old one. His new one emits toxic fumes of hope & change.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
2:54 pm

Gravy Train: the overwhelming majority of “moochers” are whites
————————-

Why bring race into this? Keep your racism to yourself–it’s ugly and does nothing to further the debate.

By the way, Fulton and Dekalb lead the state in the number of food stamp recipients.

An Atlanta problem.

Dr. Pangloss

September 22nd, 2012
3:09 pm

“This assumes that we go off the famous “fiscal cliff” in December and allow all of the Bush tax cuts to expire, allow the full force of the alternative minimum tax to kick in, allow all of the spending cuts agreed to earlier this Congress to kick in, and greatly slash money paid to Medicare providers.”

And why assume any of this, except for letting the Bush tax cuts expire? Congress has never allowed the “full force of the alternative minimum tax to kick in.” They always fiddle with it so that it doesn’t. Ditto for Medicare cuts.

Dr. Pangloss

September 22nd, 2012
3:11 pm

“If Obamacare doesn’t work — if seniors really suffer as a result of the benefit cuts to Medicare …”

It has been shown over and over that Obamacare does not cut Medicare benefits.

Gravy Train

September 22nd, 2012
3:12 pm

If it bothers you that the overwhelming majority of welfare recipients in this state are white rural people, why not take your anger where it belongs: at Nathan Deal’s feet.

saywhat?

September 22nd, 2012
3:12 pm

Lil’ Barry Bailout – Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
2:54 pm

“Why bring race into this? Keep your racism to yourself–it’s ugly and does nothing to further the debate.

By the way, Fulton and Dekalb lead the state in the number of food stamp recipients.

An Atlanta problem.”
________________________________________________________
I am amazed Lil boo boo was able to pull that “fact” out of his azz with his head so firmly in the way.
http://frac.org/pdf/ny_times_snap_poverty_formatted.pdf

While Fulton has “more” people on foodstamps, it is purely by virtue of it being the most populous county. The percentage of the population on food stamps in Fulton is lower than at least 50 other Georgia counties, 50. Dekalb has an even lower percentage than Fulton. Both the number of people and the percentage of people in rural GA on food stamps is larger than that of Atlanta.
Lil boo boo and dave r should move to athens and form a band. They can call it Lyin’ and Cryin’.

Michael H. Smith

September 22nd, 2012
3:14 pm

There are dictionaries for liberals who don’t understand the meaning of the words “LIMIT”, “LIMITS”, “LIMITING” and “LIMITED”, as well a refresher course in history – non liberal revisionist version – tells why we have a Constitution to define the LIMITS of federal government authority.

Government, particularly the federal government, is not our LORD GOD, it only exist for the sake of the States and as our servant to protect our rights. If you need a Marxist nanny state mommy/daddy GUB’MENT to care for you(brucie), try Cuba or Venezuela. Their dear leaders are known to be only slightly right of your Comrade dear ruler Obama.

Gravy Train

September 22nd, 2012
3:17 pm

Dr. Pangloss, you are using facts and logic to argue with those who only understand irrational fear. Stay around long enough, and you’ll see this blog is dominated by the same handful of people everyday. Always looking to shift the blame for everything on President Obama. They don’t even understand that our local government is more responsible for unemployment than any president ever was or will be. Facts and logic do not work with those with their heads in the sand.

Linda

September 22nd, 2012
3:18 pm

yuzey@2:37, If Americans were not “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” then what is the point of anything else under the sun?

Please pay attention. Have you even read Kyle’s article? Are you unaware of the situation the country is in? We are approaching a fiscal cliff & a worse recession than we have encountered, maybe a depression.
Interest rates are artificially low, temporarily. It’s not if, but when they increase to merely “normal” rates, the debt service will take up so much of the budget that we will be borrowing to service the debt. The debt will keep growing. Interest payments could exceed $1 T per year or more.
All entitlements will be cut, including Social Security, Medicare, etc. as well as natl. defense. We will cease to recognize the fed. govt.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/sep/3/the-real-fiscal-cliff/

God guarantees us rights. The govt. guarantees us nothing. What the govt. giveth, the govt. can taketh away.

Gravy Train

September 22nd, 2012
3:22 pm

Also, this article is Kyle’s way of waiving the white flag. “Nothing is going to change so why vote?” It’s all over for Willard, as Kyle correctly predicted during the GOP primaries. That’s why he was pushing Newt back then. Face it, it is all over for the plutocrat and his ditto-heads. So ditto-heads, take Kyle’s advice and just stay home on election day.

Michael H. Smith

September 22nd, 2012
3:27 pm

Oh of course taking $500 billion dollars out of a program will not reduce benefits like Medicare when you tell doctors and hospitals they will be paid fifty cent on the dollar for their services – but then again we all know those GREEDY doctors and hospitals unlike the under paid Universities and Professors don’t have their expenses of buildings and staff salaries?

Yeah, that is what liberals call using logic. :roll:

Linda

September 22nd, 2012
3:37 pm

Democrats/liberals spout & never back up their claims. Why? Because there’s at least 2 types of Democrats/liberals:
1. those who know the truth & hide the truth because they agree with the secret progressive agenda, &
2. those who don’t know the truth because they don’t know the difference between propaganda & facts, don’t care &/or assume those in category #1 aren’t lying. These are the minions.

The cuts in Medicare by the Democrats to help fund Obamacare have been reported by the most liberal media outlets for a couple of years.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/14/romneys-right-obamacare-cuts-medicare-by-716-billion-heres-how/

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
3:44 pm

saywhat?: Fulton has “more” people on foodstamps
———————–

Thanks for confirming my earlier statement. Not sure how that constitutes “lying” in your book though.

saywhat?: Liar.

Just Saying..

September 22nd, 2012
3:50 pm

Linda:
I read your link. Here are the words. I don’t see how these words support your position.

The whole idea of Medicare Advantage was to drive down the cost of health insurance for the elderly as private insurance companies competing for seniors’ business.
That’s not what happened. By 2010, the average Medicare Advantage per-patient cost was 117 percent of regular fee-for-service. The Affordable Care Act gives those private plans a haircut and tethers reimbursement levels to the quality of care administered, and patient satisfaction.
The Medicare Advantage cut gets the most attention, but it only accounts for about a third of the Affordable Care Act’s spending reduction. Another big chunk comes from the hospitals. The health law changed how Medicare calculates what they get reimbursed for various services, slightly lowering their rates over time. Hospitals agreed to these cuts because they knew, at the same time, they would likely see an influx of paying patients with the Affordable Care Act’s insurance expansion.
The rest of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cuts are a lot smaller. Reductions to Medicare’s Disproportionate Share Payments — extra funds doled out the hospitals that see more uninsured patients — account for 5 percent in savings. Lower payments to home health providers make up another 8.8 percent. About a dozen cuts of this magnitude make up the green section above.
It’s worth noting that there’s one area these cuts don’t touch: Medicare benefits. The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers. It does not, however, change the basket of benefits that patients have access to. And, as Ezra pointed out earlier today, the Ryan budget would keep these cuts in place.

Gotta go cheer the Jackets, back later.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
3:52 pm

Linda, your 1) and 2) above could be more simply called “un-Americans” and “idiots”, respectively.

Linda

September 22nd, 2012
3:53 pm

If Obama wins reelection, his first speech will include this:
“I must be the unluckiest president ever elected in the United States. Not only did I inherit a bad economy from Bush, I inherited another one from myself. Actually, I inherited a bad economy from Bush TWICE!”

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
3:53 pm

Seems like someone who cheers the Jackets would be more intelligent than you, saywhat.

Subway alumni?

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
3:59 pm

The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers.
—————–

That’s the “big lie” in Obozocare. Those cuts will never happen, just like the cuts in payments to doctors never happens. Every couple of years, doctors are supposed to get their payment rates reduces so Congress can pretend to be saving money, and every time, the cuts never materialize.

Obozocare: The Big Lie.

Obozo supporters: Chumps and willingly ignorant.

Say it isnt so

September 22nd, 2012
4:00 pm

Lil barry

Many a peron making more, working harder and with a higher IQ than yourself will be voting for Obama.

All your sterotypes and crying make you look stupid and will not impact the outcome.

But do carry on. You actually think people are impressed with you. Reading your posts are funny. Foolish little baby you are.

Linda

September 22nd, 2012
4:06 pm

Just@3:50, My position has nothing to do with Medicare or Obamacare. The main point was what I said is the top 2/3 of my comment.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
4:09 pm

Say it isnt so, thanks for taking time to respond. Glad to hear you’re so fascinated with me.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
4:10 pm

Many a peron making more, working harder and with a higher IQ than yourself will be voting for Obama.
———————

…along with near every dang one of the entitlement-sucking parasites.

The pigs generally follow the guy with the slop bucket.

Say it isnt so

September 22nd, 2012
4:12 pm

Lil Barry

One of many who thinks being patriotic is listening to talk radio and watching Fox…. And don’t forget his made in China magnet on his car.

Never served a day doing anything for anyone except himself… Damn sure not the country…

Coward he is

Linda

September 22nd, 2012
4:15 pm

Lil’ Barry@3:52, Sorry the commenter @4:00 insulted you for reiterating what I said @3:37. Can’t figure out if he’s a #1 or a #2. The misspelling, capitalization, etc. hints @ #2.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
4:16 pm

Take it easy, Say it isn’t so…your EBT card will be getting topped off real soon.

Bruno

September 22nd, 2012
4:19 pm

Oh, and if by “deafening silence”, you mean stuff like this: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/333320
yeah, we heard it, because there is plenty more where that came from. You just have to step out side your rightwing echo chamber to hear it.

saywhat–That’s about the lamest article I’ve read in a long time. Nothing but a bunch of empty speculation, which is all you brain-dead Libs have going these days. The fact is that Romney paid an annual effective tax rate of 20.2% for the past 20 years in addition to giving nearly 14% of his income to charity. That is the same tax rate that Obama paid last year. As for charitable giving, your boy Obama didn’t start giving anything until he decided to run for President. Prior to that, he gave 1-4%, while Biden contributed a few hundred dollars per year.

Thanks for once again proving that Libs = Losers.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
4:19 pm

NP, Linda. I’ve been here long enough to get used to the droolers and knuckle-draggers.

Say it isnt so

September 22nd, 2012
4:19 pm

At least you know you are a weak milly mouth coward

Shameless wimp

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
4:29 pm

Among the many things I don’t know, that’s one of them.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
4:33 pm

And leave Milly out of it.

yuzeyurbrane

September 22nd, 2012
4:47 pm

Linda @ 3:18–nice try at diversion. I never said you were not smart. I like the Declaration of Independence, too, but you are the one who made the big deal about the pre-eminence of literal word of the Constitution. And I read Kyle’s article. Always do. No doubt we have big problems out there but we disagree on analysis of the details of the problem and on the solution. That is OK. You are entitled to have my opinion. Joking aside, why don’t you venture out and post more on Jay’s blog? td, a fellow con, does, and I applaud him. Read Jay as I read Kyle and let’s both be exposed to differing opinions.

saywhat?

September 22nd, 2012
4:48 pm

Lil bruno ” The fact is that Romney paid an annual effective tax rate of 20.2% for the past 20 years”
_____________________________________

Wrong. The only fact is that Romneys team of accountants SAY he paid an effective annual rate of 20.2%. Only a stupid person would take their word for it, without actually seeing his returns. Why won’t he release them if he has nothing to hide, especially with the bearing they have on his positions regarding tax policy?

If you don’t like the article I linked, google is your friend. There are plenty more, certainly plenty enough to counter your idiotic claim of “deafening silence” from the left. You may not read them on this blog, seeing as it the equivalent of AJC’s kiddie pool, and us lefties prefer deeper waters with fewer right wing floaters, as it were.

saywhat?

September 22nd, 2012
4:50 pm

saywhat?

September 22nd, 2012
4:52 pm

saywhat?

September 22nd, 2012
4:53 pm

saywhat?

September 22nd, 2012
4:55 pm

saywhat?

September 22nd, 2012
4:58 pm

There you go lil bruno. 4 more examples of the “deafening silence” you claimed.
Forget trying to move the goalposts by the way. Just because you don’t like the noise, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Man up. Admit your claim of “deafening silence” was wrong.

RW-(the original)

September 22nd, 2012
5:13 pm

Two stories from July and one from August prove that people are all abuzz about something that happened yesterday? When did the moonbats perfect time travel?

Linda

September 22nd, 2012
5:13 pm

Lil’ Barry, The liberals who constantly bash FOX aren’t aware or just don’t care that FOX presents plain old news (journalism) from 5 AM until 5 PM every day, has an entirely separate business network & has only one or two opinion shows. Coverage is 24/7. Both Democrats & Republicans debate the issues.
MSNBC does not even present all the issues & only one side. It also does not have anywhere near the viewership & stuffs the channel with junk. What the liberals can watch tonight is Caught on Camera, Lockup Orange County, Life After Lockup, Lockup Tampa, Lockup Wabash & Lockup Raw (prison shows) OR they can watch their washers & dryers SPIN their clothes.

saywhat?

September 22nd, 2012
5:14 pm

Bruno, you say liberals are “brain dead” for speculating that Romney refuses to release earlier tax returns because may be hiding something. Really? That constitutes “brain dead”?

My definition of brain dead empty speculation would look more like liberals accusing Romney of being born in kenya, or planning to build concentration camps, or planning to free the 1st WTC bomber mastermind, or planning to confiscate everybodies guns, or being a secret muslim, secretly or not so secretly hating America, or possessing a secret tape where Ms Romney expresses her hatred of whitey. But you wouldn’t consider any of that brain dead, would you?

The upcoming November landslide will expose the wing nut losers for what they are.

saywhat?

September 22nd, 2012
5:22 pm

RW-(the original)

September 22nd, 2012
5:13 pm
Two stories from July and one from August prove that people are all abuzz about something that happened yesterday? When did the moonbats perfect time travel
_________________________________________________________________
excuuuuuuuuuuuse me. I forgot to apply the 24 hour parameter to the google news search. When you do, you get 7150 hits in the last 24 hours. What? I can’t hear you over the “silence”.

http://www.google.com/search?q=romney+2011+tax+return&hl=en&safe=off&gl=us&tbm=nws&prmd=ivnsu&source=lnt&tbs=qdr:d&sa=X&ei=5ipeUNVijeDzBNOEgPAG&ved=0CBMQpwUoAg

Linda

September 22nd, 2012
5:24 pm

yuzey@4:47, Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m not much into cults. Atmosphere reminds me of what I would expect from riding in a closed van to a wrestling match with a dozen old men who each had a pot of beans for dinner.
Give me the Wall St. Journal & a cup of tea anytime.

RW-(the original)

September 22nd, 2012
5:43 pm

What? I can’t hear you over the “silence”.

You confuse me with someone who ever thinks libs can be silent. It’s more my experience that there’s always an incessant whining from them and all that changes is the subject.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
5:45 pm

Has President Romney ever been found by the IRS to have evaded paying the taxes he owes?

Didn’t think so.

What else ya got?

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

September 22nd, 2012
5:51 pm

Meanwhile, libtard hero Warren Buffet has been pursued for years by the IRS and is refusing to pay what they say he owes.

Hypocrite.

David R. Boag, DDS

September 22nd, 2012
5:58 pm

Gravy, you said:

“Hey Boag, Why don’t you go bitch to your buddies Nathan Deal and his cronies. They have a better chance of lowering this state’s unemployment rate which is the second highest in the nation.

Where’s the accountability?

Oh, I see, that wouldn’t fit your “Blame Obama” whine?”

I’ll meet you halfway, Gravy. Fine lets make them BOTH accountable and vote them both out of office next go-around. Sounds fair to me!

@@

September 22nd, 2012
6:10 pm

When the federal government began providing billions of dollars in incentives to push hospitals and physicians to use electronic medical and billing records, the goal was not only to improve efficiency and patient safety, but also to reduce health care costs.

But, in reality, the move to electronic health records may be contributing to billions of dollars in higher costs for Medicare, private insurers and patients by making it easier for hospitals and physicians to bill more for their services, whether or not they provide additional care.

Well THAT didn’t work out too well, did it?

The patient has to be proactive.

If ‘ya see something on your bill that you didn’t receive, call ‘em on it. They’ll back down.

One sophisticated patient witnessed the overbilling firsthand. In early 2010, Robert Burleigh, a health care consultant, came to the emergency room of a Virginia hospital with a kidney stone. When he received the bill from the emergency-room doctor, his medical record, produced electronically, reflected a complete physical exam that never happened, allowing the visit to be billed at the highest level, Burleigh said.

The doctor indicated that he had examined Burleigh’s lower extremities, but Burleigh said he was wrapped in a blanket and that the doctor never even saw his legs.

“No one would admit it,” Burleigh said, “but the most logical explanation was he went to a menu and clicked standard exam,” and the software filled in an examination of all of his systems.

After he complained, the doctor’s group reduced his bill.

No need to expand some already inefficient government bureaucracy when…

we can do it–YES WE CAN!

http://www.statesman.com/news/nation/medicare-bills-rise-as-health-records-become-electronic-2464524.html

Linda

September 22nd, 2012
6:19 pm

David@5:58, You are keeping me awake at nights & waking me up in the mornings. Would you please, please change your blog name? This is not a blog you should post on with your real name. Don’t respond to me. Just take my advice before it’s too late. Just try it for a few days.