Republicans and the deficit

 

          The BBC and Channel 4 present the partial shutdown of the US government as evidence of a malfunctioning democracy. They seem to mainly blame the Republicans for daring to oppose the President. Clearly Mr Obama’s spin carries a long way. They spread scare stories that the US will renege on some of its debts by failing to pay interest on money it has borrowed.

          I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I occasionally comment on US  politics, but am not a partisan, as it is not my country. I do expect UK public service broadcasters to give a fair and balanced view, to explain both sides properly.

           The Republicans would say that the temporary partial shutdown is the result of an administration that cannot live within its means and needs to cut more to control its debts and deficit. The Democrats raise the spectre of debt interest going unpaid, bringing the US credit rating crashing down. They suggest the poor will go without their Federal pay cheques. The Republicans point out that n either of these bad events need happen.

          Over the weeks ahead tax revenue will pour into the Treasury in large enough quantities to pay the interest on the debt and make the necessary and most deserving payments. If there is no deal to raise the debt ceiling, then the Administration would have to cut back on less essential spending to live within its means. The President can also negotiate with the Republicans controlling the Congress to find a way forward so he can borrow some more, as that is clearly his wish.

            It takes two sides to achieve a breakdown. It is shows how vigorous and dramatic politics can be in the US, where the executive and legislature are different bodies and the Congress is controlled by a  different party with a different view on safe levels of borrowing to the President.

            The US has had partial government  shutdowns before. Doubtless there will be a deal in due course. The Republicans are highlighting the huge debts and deficits the US has built up and are forcing change to tackle them. UK observers could at least seek to understand the reasons on both sides. This is not commonsense and decency against a group of extremists,. This is a gripping battle for the soul of America between its two major parties. The Republicans want the deficit down more quickly and are using Congress to try to achieve that. They see Obama’s health care proposals as the extra spending  the US cannot afford.

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87 Comments

  1. colliemum
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    It is a very sad state of affairs when our British reporters, journalists and political analysts are so obviously bare any knowledge of how the US political system works.
    It is even worse when they report only that which the extremely partisan (I’m being very polite here!) media in the USA report, at a time when we all have access to New Media which generally are now more reliable to bring news rather than partisan opinions.
    It seems they have never heard of the famous US system of ‘checks and balances’.

    How many people know that it is explicitly the House of Representatives who keeps the purse strings, and neither the Senate nor the President? How many know that the House proposes and the Senate agrees to a budget, which the President signs?
    How many know that the majority in the House is Republican, and that in the Senate is and has been for this century Democrat?

    How many know that this Senate has refused to sign off on a budget since 2008, that the US Government has been working on continuity resolutions because the Senate leader has refused negotiations?
    How many know that in the normal way of things, after the continuous “No’ votes in the Senate, they and the House are now obliged to form a bipartisan commission to work out a compromise? Or that even this has been refused yesterday by the Senate?

    I shall refrain from commenting on the behaviour of president Obama, who is on record as saying that he will not negotiate, just as his Democrat majority in the Senate will not negotiate.

    Regarding Obamacare – again, very negligently reported over here – let me only ask this: how can something be “The Law of The Land” when, before it’s implementation, the President has waived the necessity for all of Congress, for federal employees, for some Unions and some Big Businesses to comply?
    How can something be ‘The Law of the Land” when it applies not to all, as trumpeted, but only to ordinary people, not to the ‘rulers’?

    This is about more than just debt and spending. This is about the fundamentals of US government, and it sadly is about the role of the old media in both the USA and here playing the role of a government ‘Ministry of Propaganda’.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Regarding Obamacare – again, very negligently reported over here – let me only ask this: how can something be “The Law of The Land” when, before it’s implementation, the President has waived the necessity for all of Congress, for federal employees, for some Unions and some Big Businesses to comply?

      The Republicans refused to approve the last budget unless Obama agreed to this. It seems your reporting is as biased as the reporting you’re complaining about.

  2. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    ” It takes two sides to achieve a breakdown” says a lot about head to head competition and in a general way demonstrates how competition can ruin everything and when subsequently followed up by the domino effect how globally, an implosion may occur.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Fascinating comment!

      What do you do when someone else says something that you believe is not only wrong but very dangerous too?

      Consensus is only possible when people don’t care. And politicians are at their most dangerous when they all agree with each other. (Climate change bill/Iraq/Hemicycle).

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Of course , I have pondered about this as well and understand that this is why diplomacy defuses . Usually there are many variations on a stance and exits out of problems and what presents as taking two to achieve a breakdown can be tunnelled vision notions of a problem.
        Consensus happens during hysteria also. Resistance to a problem which may be obvious to a few appears to be over ridden by many when the pleasure principle takes precedent , for example as in loans more loans to get what is wanted here and now.

  3. Andy Baxter
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    For good or bad, this is what democracy looks like.

    Where we have in the UK a docile, compliant House of Commons which has never in living memory deprived the government of money, despite wasteful expenditure on vanity and public debt and going through the roof, we can only watch with admiration and not a little jealousy.

    Money is where true power lies, those who control the purse controls Governance:

    The Parliamentarians knew this in the 17th Century when they curbed the power (read Money) of an absolute King Charles I.

    But in the UK we have yet to wake up to the fact that Parliament has become the ‘new’ Absolute King, The Executive controls most of the legislative (the payroll vote) hence it controls the money!

    The people should have the final say in what is taken from them and how it is spent.

    Now that would be true democracy: demos = people / kratos = power

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Indeed but the problem inherent in a Democracy is that there is away the danger that a majority of the poor decide by legal means to help themselves to the wealth and earning of the rich. They rarely get much as the government wastes most of it in the process.

      Left wing parties incubate feelings of envy and buy votes by promising the redistribution of others peoples’ money and from the magic money tree to them. It is hugely destructive and the lefty Tories do it too.

      • uanime5
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Given that the poor are only poor because the rich have kept so much of the money to themselves it’s no surprise that the poor have started objecting to this. As long as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer you can’t expect the poor to support the status quo.

        • Edward2
          Posted October 3, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

          You should write your own book Uni
          The thoughts of Chairman Uni
          A small book with a nice red cover

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Nor has the House of Commons ever voted for the creation of vast sums of new money by the Bank of England to indirectly help fund the government’s budget deficit; the Chancellor authorises it and then merely informs MPs, and they have never thought back to the days of Charles I and insisted that QE must be under their control, and so the Chancellor should be required to get each of his letters to the Governor approved by a Commons vote before he sends it.

      Reply Anytime the Opposition wanted to have a vote on it they could do so. Printing plenty of money has been a bipartisan policy.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 3, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        That’s weak, JR. As Darling authorised the creation of £200 billion of new money without ever seeking prior approval from MPs it’s not to be expected that the Labour frontbench will now volunteer that he was wrong to do that and MPs should always be asked first. And as Osborne has since authorised the creation of another £175 billion without ever seeking prior approval from MPs it’s not to be expected that the Tory frontbench will now volunteer that he was wrong to do that and MPs should always be asked first. Obviously it would have to be initiated by backbench MPs like yourself asserting their rights as our elected representatives, and insisting that if only as a matter of constitutional form the Chancellor should always lay a draft of his letter to the Governor before the House and propose a motion to approve it. Even if the motion was passed without a formal vote, it would give MPs the opportunity to debate the matter and help to make it clearer to the public that ultimately the power, and the responsibility, rests with the House of Commons and not with the Chancellor.

        Reply In these matters Parliament is still sovereign. Backbench MPs have not demanded a vote on this matter because so few MPs would wish to vote against there would be no point. Should the issue of QE become contentious to enough MPs, then there will be a debate and vote on it. Anything within the Chancellor’s power of decision is within Parliament’s power to control!

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

          Many people are not even aware that it is the Chancellor’s decision, let alone that it is within Parliament’s power to control. They think that it’s the Governor of the Bank of England who decides.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Why on earth do you expect the BBC to give a fair and balanced view, they never ever do on anything at all. They consistently take the tax, borrow and waste, pro EU, Pro quack science of catastrophic warming and enforced “equality” approach on every issue. The triumph of hope over experience I suppose.

    Obama is a saint to the BBC, (thanks to his origins ed) and left wing. (argues BBC thinks it more important to establish gender, racial and religious balance in discussions than balance of views etc ed)

    The BBC seemed even more excited by Obama’s victory than they were by Blair’s. Mind you even I was relieved not to have John Major back after his dreadful and totally unapologetic incompetence.

    Reading the Mail yesterday (for once I bought it just to see what all the Milliband’s Dad fuss was about), I cannot see anything at all for the Mail to apologise for. Milliband brought up his father in his speeches and said what an influence he was. Yet his father clearly had a very unpleasant and hypocritical agenda indeed, some of which he has clearly indoctrinated into his gullible sons, and doubtless many other gullible students.

    Perfectly fair comment it seemed to me, anyway anyone who want to kills the free press as Ed Miliband does and turn it to “BBC think” clearly need stopping in almost any way possible. Who else but the press will stop MP helping themselves to expenses illegally or handing tax payers cash to their mates and relatives, or going to wars on blatant lies. Why on earth do the BBC (on Newsnight) allow the totally discredited dope, Alastair Campbell to talk right through all the perfectly reasonable comments made by the chap from the Mail?

    Even showing the grave near to Carl Marx’s grave in Highgate seems perfectly reasonable to me. (Allegation about this removed ed)

    A shame no one can stop Cameron’s endless tax borrow and tip down the drain here in the UK.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      I did not think I had said anything that needed any editing.

      I do not think the BBC thinks it more important to establish gender, racial and religious “balance”. Indeed, quite the reverse, they want minority & special interest groups to be hugely over represented for reasons of imbalance. Like arranging flowers for an interesting photograph.

    • Hope
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Well said, it is a pity you were edited. The ministry of truth only says what it wants you to hear. The government knows it and are by and large happy with this as it acts a safeguard for the wrongful acts of politicians and governments. Wait until the Levison outcome.

      The Mail was right to publish its story on Ralph Miliband and Miliband right to challenge, that is free press. Miliband brought his father into the political arena and it is right for others to question what he says. Clegg claims it is not right to discuss MPs families, however MPs trot them out when it suits. For example, Clegg made faith schools an issue in his manifesto then acted in contrast to it with his own child because he did not want to send him to a local state school. Then it is right and legitimate to question him why he thinks it is right to command one thing for us and another for him. Miliband’s stance on Levison shows he wants the ministry of truth enforced by people like him.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Indeed and did not Labour have Lady Thatcher is dead celebration t-shirts for sale at the conference was it? Now that was really distasteful. Discussing the dreadful views of Miliband’s father and the daft views that his son has perhaps caught of him, is perfectly reasonable. Especially when Ed himself says what an influence he was.

      • uanime5
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        How exactly did Miliband bring his dad into this? I trust you’re not going to claim that it’s acceptable to attack the dead relatives of anyone who’s a politician.

        • Edward2
          Posted October 3, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

          Milliband often tells us in his speeches the great influence of his father and so he brings his father into this.

    • peter davies
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      I find the Ralph Milliband thing strange on many levels.

      When a politician brings his father into his speeches and talks about the influences he had on him of course someone is going to do some digging.

      Whilst I don’t endorse attacking the dead I find it strange that the people making the most noise now were silent and in many cases complicit when people were doing their best to trash Lady Thatcher’s reputation after she died.

      How often have we heard about the activities of David Cameron’s dad for tax issues?

      It seems many in the left of politics are adverse to attacking their opponents with dirty tricks and when a similar tactic is used against them they cry foul.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        I thought the Times portrayal of Nigel Farage as Hitler with a microphone as a small mustache was rather more questionable.

        • Hope
          Posted October 3, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

          Lord Heseltine calling UKIP a racist party. That implies all those who are in UKIP are racist, what an outrageous slur/claim. This from a person who still thinks the UK should be in Euro, and one who appears to put the EU before country and party. Still it is to be expected from a Cameron advisor.

          How rich it was to hear Thatcher’s name held in high regard at the Tory conference, when some present thought she was a toxic brand and including some affiliated with the treachery of her demise. At her death they realise the public still admired her. They are not fit to mention her name.

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

            Indeed.

            Calling the mainly ex-Tory UKIP membership racist is not a very good plan the Tories electorally to recover their votes. But Heseltine always was a political disaster.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      You know that you have got it right when a (man ed) like Alastair Campbell wades in to the Miliband row. I do hope that the Mail does some more digging. It’s just a pity that Ralph Miliband and his dodgy dad decided to stay here and didn’t keep on sailing to America in 1940.

  5. lifelogic
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    It is reported that Cameron’s speech today will say:-

    “Profit, wealth creation, tax cuts, enterprise — these are not dirty, elitist words. They are not the problem. They really are the solution, because it’s not government that creates jobs, it’s businesses,”

    So why has he spent the last 3+ years kicking business in the head with more & more daft regulations, 300 more tax increases, no retirement laws, equal gender insurance, an anti business secretary, more EU and Ed Davey’s expensive quack energy nonsense.

    I suppose, to a PR Advertising person like himself, a speech is one thing and his actions are another department. The two need to have no consistency whatsoever. The speech is to say what the audience want to hear and he just hopes they do not notice the countless entirely contrary actions.

    Reply I thought the government had cut Corporation Tax, vetoes or argued against various new EU impositions, and is seeking a new relationship with the EU which would get us out of a lot of the costs and rules.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      To reply: Almost nothing against the torrent of regulations still flowing from the state. (no retirement and gender neutral insurance alone are a huge disaster). This combined with worthless promises for the future, well after they have left office. As worthless as the IHT promises and the Cast Iron Guarantee have proved to be.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      To reply: Small company corporation tax has gone from 21% in 2008 to 20% now! That is just great and all thank to EU ratter Cameron and IHT ratter Osborne!

      Meanwhile quack science energy costs, water and the banks have robbed us dry. Soon we have by law to organise and pay for pensions too and we cannot retire 99 year olds either.

      Can we have Osborne parents instead of the dreadful Osborne please at lease they might understand!

      • Hope
        Posted October 3, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        As it was pointed out in the DT Osborne’s speech was a fiction created by him. He continues to destroy private pensions through taxation, he will borrow £70 billion more than he planned next year, he has spent£120 billion more than he accrues in tax, he has made over 300 tax rises, he lost the triple A rating he wanted. Us to judge him by, JR has pointed out how borrowing costs have increased, still they spend more than they take- they can only fill this overspend by raising taxes or making cuts, three year sands till no 80/20 split promised by Osborne. For Cameron to say they are a party of low taxation is pure fiction. It was the Lib Dems who raised the tax threshold for low paid people- how shameful for a Tory party.

        Saturday is the dead line for child benefit changes, incredulously a policy to withdraw from universal be fit that we cannot afford as a country in the scams month the government announces free school meals-total economic stupidity.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      Corporation tax down 1% but 40% thresholds lowered, personal allowance taken away for high earners, NI up, pension reliefs cut, rates up …………..so all private sector staff are squeezed hugely.

  6. wab
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    As usual Mr Redwood has no clue about America.

    First of all, the Republicans only control half of Congress, the House. The fact that Mr Redwood does not even understand this basic fact that shows he has no clue. (And they only control the House because of extreme gerrymandering.)

    The “clean” CR that the Senate passed contained a budget that was pretty much exactly what the Republicans (e.g. Ryan) wanted. The Democrats didn’t even try to get more, although they would have been perfectly within their right to do so. If the Democrats had done so and if the Republicans were arguing about that then one could claim that “both sides” were to blame.

    So no, this stalemate is not about the budget deficit, it is about extortion politics. The Republicans are not trying to change the budget (except indirectly), they are trying to change the law. The fact that many Republicans are admitting to this (if Mr Redwood could be bothered to read) is a good indication that this is the case.

    “If there is no deal to raise the debt ceiling, then the Administration would have to cut back on less essential spending to live within its means.”

    Again, Mr Redwood has no clue. The (separate) debt ceiling issue is about paying interest on money that Congress has already spent, not about future spending. Of course if the Republicans manage to trash the full faith and credit of the US government then no doubt future spending will have to decrease, because they will have trashed the economy.

    Reply The debt ceiling needs to be raised to accommodate future extra borrowing. Republicans do indeed oppose Obamacare, which does add to the spending and therefore to the extra borrowing the Democrats wish to do!

    • Jeffery
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Perhaps you are too young to remember the shutdown of 1996 over the debt ceiling. All that happens is the Treasury Secretary takes bonds from the SSA in order finance government spending.

      May I also point out, quite separately, that 7(1) of the US Constitution means that only the House can initiate revenue bills. Consequently Obama, the BBC and whoever else cannot speak of the House blocking what is their own bill. The Senate and president can do this. Ironically, everyone seemed to understand this in the 1980s when a Republican Senate and President Reagan blocked budgets from a Democrat House.

  7. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Isn’t the situation in the US a warning, not to let politics become too polarized? Consensual politics may not be very British, but parties do need to be able to see the good points in the opponent’s opinions. I do wonder how the eurosceptics will react when they will lose (as I think they will) a referendum on EU membership. Would they accept the referendum result?

    Reply Some will accept the referendum result, some will not, whichever way it goes. You can see that in say Quebec following referenda on whether to leave Canada or not. It is quite impossible to forecast the result today, as we have no idea if the renegotiation produces anything worth having. If as some think the EU wont offer the UK a decent deal then the electorate will I think vote for Out.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      No we will not accept the result because the BBC under Lord Patten perhaps, the politicians, three parties and the EU will have rammed propaganda into the gullible. THis using tax payers money and it will not be a fair question, a fair campaign or fair timing for the referendum. These will all be chosen by pro EU state sector paid, largely parasitic people who are, in effect being bought by the EU.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        The readers (snoopers?) of the Sun , the Daily Express and other tabloids are far more gullible! And these media are all on your side. Just these boring Guardian readers may not be.

        • Mark B
          Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

          PvL

          When it comes to our media, you are very naive.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted October 4, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

            @Mark B: Your tabloids even attack dead people. I rest my case.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

          The truly gullible are the people who think the EU can form any sort of demos on which any real democracy can sit, who thing that catastrophic AGW predictions are real science and who think more government and more regulations will ever make us richer. “BBC/Guardian think” with rarely a Physics A level between the lot of them.

          They are the truly dim.

          • uanime5
            Posted October 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

            The EU is more democratic that the UK, AGW has been proven by scientific evidence, and these regulations are to prevent the wealthy making greater profits by abusing the poor.

            Also the scientists who have proven that AGW is real all have scientific qualifications and many of them are physicists.

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 3, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

            Clearly mankind has an effect on climate, no one sensible disputes that. Sensible scientists know full well that we cannot predict the climate in 100 years and dispute the catastrophic AGW theory.

            Either that or they simply do not understand the complete impossibility of predicting chaotic, complex, weather systems with countless feedbacks for 100 years hence with most of the input data missing.

            As Freeman Dyson said that is just not how it is.

            They are not fit to call themselves scientists, just priests, soothsayers, politicians or snake oil salesmen on the make.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 2, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

          Oh and the ones who thought the ERM and the EURO were a good idea.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      In his interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday Cameron repeated that he wants us freed from the commitment to a process of “ever closer union”:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/99999.pdf

      “DAVID CAMERON: … To give you one example, the phrase, ‘seeking an ever closer union’; that is not what the British people want. It’s not what I want. (interjection)

      ANDREW MARR: So you want that taken out of the treaty?

      DAVID CAMERON: Well, they can – other people can sign up to an ever closer union, other countries can but Britain should not be in an ever closer union and I’m determined to make sure we get out of that.

      ANDREW MARR: to get out of that would mean a full treaty renegotiation because it is at the heart of the treaty that we’ve signed at the moment …. (interjection)

      DAVID CAMERON: Yes we need a treaty renegotiation … ”

      And the Times reported that Hague had said the same:

      http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article3882534.ece

      “Hague lays down marker for EU talks”

      “Britain will seek to end the doctrine of “ever-closer union” in Europe, William Hague said yesterday.

      The Foreign Secretary made this the first formal demand in Britain’s renegotiation with Europe in an attempt to answer calls from Eurosceptics for details.

      The main target of the speech was to reform the demand in EU treaties to “lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe”.

      Mr Hague told the conference: “Nation states working together with common rules, yes. But Britain as part of a superstate, never. If other countries want ever closer union they can go ahead … “”

      These words are on the record and will be remembered, and in the unlikely event that Cameron and Hague are in a position to seek EU negotiations after the next general election, we will know that by their own stated criteria they will have failed in those negotiations if:

      a) there is no EU treaty change; or

      b) there is EU treaty change, but the UK remains committed to a process of “ever closer union” (or equivalent phraseology).

      My suggestion is that to get the ball rolling on several fronts we should have three referendums on September 18th 2014: the one already planned in Scotland, on possible independence from the UK; another in England, on whether we want an English Parliament; and one across the whole of the UK on whether we agree with Cameron that EU “ever closer union” is “not what the British people want”.

      I don’t see how the self-styled “Liberal Democrats” could reasonably object to the people being asked for their views on those three matters.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        How the “Liberal Democrats” could reasonably object –

        well they are never reasonable are they? Nor Liberal, nor Democrats.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper:
        ad a) Of course there will be treaty change at some stage! It may not happen before 2018, because, with all due respect, the UK issue will have to remain a sideshow to solving the problems of the Eurozone, but a European Council can still take a unanimous decision to prelude on the next treaty change to come. This would ensure the negotiation result in as much as it requires treaty change.

        Ad b) It may not prove so difficult to scrap the obligation to “ever closer union” for the UK.
        Let me, as a non-legal person have a try: It could be argued that, since the original Rome Treaty, “the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe” have already been sufficiently laid, and that it is now for the peoples themselves (through their representatives and governments) to move further in that direction without feeling any pressure. Some countries, like the UK, may well decide that they are close enough, or maybe even too close. In a multi-speed Europe that is bound to happen. Countries won’t all take part in every “enhanced cooperation” , which means – not bringer their people together with other people in that particular area.
        So if you think you can lay a marker with a referendum in 2014, that might strengthen your hand in negotiations. I just doubt that either Labour or Libdems want such a referendum.

        • Mark B
          Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          PvL

          The it would not be much of UNION then would it.

          As for a new treaty from 2018, that is the take from some very knowledgeable types on this matter. Which rather blows a hole in Cameron’s 2017 referendum.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted October 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

            @Mark B: there are more countries (e.g. the Netherlands) which don’t need more “ever closer union”in each and every area of cooperation. This very much a union though, and this opinion comes from solid pro-EU politicians. Cameron’s challenge will be to win the next national elections. Without a new treaty he can still negotiate for a better deal (even though I personally think that the UK deal is excellent as it is).

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 2, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Peter, I expect that your kind of trickery might be attempted, because we’ve seen it before on numerous occasions.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted October 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: who cares, as long as the end result will be an arrangement which the majority of the British will feel comfortable with.

        • sjb
          Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

          @Peter van Leeuwen
          I understand the Labour Party do not want to commit to a referendum in 2017 because then the first two years of their term in office will be dominated by the matter.

          However, James Wharton’s European Union (Referendum) Bill 2013-14 provides Labour with an opportunity – assuming the support of sufficient anti-EU MPs – to fix a date before or on the same day as the general election. That might put Cameron and his supporters in a difficult position.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted October 3, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

            Even if that Bill gets through all stages in the Commons it is extremely unlikely to get through the Lords.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted October 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

            @sjb: it would definitely wrong-foot the pro-EU side, as they are much and much to lazy and laid back about the need to campaign for the UK inside the EU

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      The EU will offer whatever fig leave they feel they need to win the referendum. If Cameron is negotiating he is clearly “heart and soul” on their side so he will get a very tiny fig leaf.

      We will only ever get a referendum at a time when the government thinks they can clearly win one.

      It is as simple as that politicians think that UK democracy is something they own to be given or sold permanently away.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Peter,
      You may wonder how we who want self-governance for the UK would respond to a referendum result but we know that Europhiles would not accept a vote to leave. Not only does the EU have form on this but David Cameron was interviewed in the Spanish El Pais:

      ” In case of a Yes victory in the referendum that will organize on leaving the EU, would you be willing to withdraw from the Union?”

      Cameron’s response:

      ” I would not. (No me gustaría)”

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson: He would have no choice, so he probably means that he would stand down (the honourable thing to do, assuming that he would have campaigned to stay in the EU).
        I expect a different outcome: the UK will vote to stay in the EU, and asthis matter will have been solved for at least a generation, the UK will decide to become a very active and involved EU member, a leader in several fields

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      You have turned the referendum deal on its head.

      Here in the Anglosphere, we go by what the voters decide (or we used to).

      In the EU referenda are simply brushed aside. They are seen as popularist and, worse, nationalist. I am not going to bang on about Holland, Ireland and so on. Better perhaps to realise that any decision except the right one will simply be disregarded in Brussels.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        @Mike Stallard: not to worry, this won’t be an EU referendum but a UK referendum, which means that all the responsibility lies in the UK.

    • Vanessa
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Cameron has been asked about the result of the EU Referendum and if it went as a “no” to continued membership would he be bound by the result and he said NO.

      You can find it somewhere on the internet, though cannot remember who interviewed him.

      Some democracy we have !

      Reply Surely not – NO means NO and means Out.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply,
        In the hypothetical situation that we ever have a referendum and the public vote to leave Cameron would resign – he would not take this country out of the EU as he has publicly stated. He would have to resign after the public had rejected his renegotiation, which he would have claimed had been so good that we should be bound to the EU forever. What would you Conservative MPs do then when faced with this constitutional crisis? If you were faced with the choice of party before country I bet you would choose party as has happened so often before.

        Reply Mr Cameron envisages negotiating a new relationship which he can recommend to the British people. If he proves unable to do so he will doubtless recommend leaving the EU, though he has no wish to say that as he wishes to be optimistic about his chances of a good negotiation. Were Mr Cameron to resign – as he will do one day when he has led the party and country for long enough – we will choose a new leader.

      • Bob
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

        In matters pertaining to the EU, no means let’s rephrase the question and try again.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted October 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

          @Bob: won’t be needed this time. In case of a referendum in 2017, I expect a resounding “In” victory which will settle the issue for at least another generation. 🙂

    • outsider
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Dear Peter van L,
      I agree that tribalism produces bad politics and is always a danger in a rigid two party system like America’s, though it is often tempered there by weak party discipline. The ideal is a dialectical debate, on the basis of which representatives freely reach conclusions or, in a few cases, agree to refer the matter directly to the electorate.

      Consensus is terrific if, but only if it reflects a broad consensus (more than two thirds) in the country. If opinion is sharply divided, as it appears to be over US fiscal policy, it is right to carry on the argument by the means provided in the Constitution until one side blinks or the two agree on a compromise. Compromise is nothing like consensus, except that it should be accepted and respected until new leaders are elected.

      The same applies to the UK’s place in Europe. I agree that a referendum to take the UK out of the EU would probably be lost because there is a consensus among all the main parties (though not of course within them) to campaign against Brexit and that would be echoed by the dominant state broadcaster. That seems to me much more dangerous for democracy when, among those who care, opinion is split roughly equally.

      There is, I think, actually a consensus (at least two thirds) in the UK against further mass immigration from any source for various non-xenophobic reasons. I imagine that is true in most non-colonial countries, including the Netherlands, now and at most times in history. Yet, begging Mr Redwood’s pardon, that is not really reflected in the policy of any of the main UK parties.

      A political consensus that conflicts with majority opinion among citizens is very dangerous. Yet that is what the European Commission and, more surprisingly, the European Parliament, too often gives us, not just in Britain but in many other member states.

      Reply Some of the worst policies were consensus establishment policies like ERM membership.

      • outsider
        Posted October 3, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        Response to reply: Could not agree more.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted October 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

        @outsider: May I react on the items about immigration and about majority opinion among citizens:
        The UK has suffered more from unregulated immigration than the Netherlands after 2004, so the backlash is stronger. But immigration which doesn’t adversely affect lower paid workers would still be a good thing, even indispensable, for demographic reasons (no Dutch queen ever ordained to “lie back and think of Holland”). For that reason, the Dutch pro-EU minister for social affairs is working hard to make it impossible that Dutch workers lose their jobs to foreigners due to unfair competition. Immigrants though, have already added to the Dutch GDP.
        A majority opinion among citizens should translate itself in different election results, which in a proportional democracy is usually (not always) the case. The European elections in 2014 will reflect the majority views of the EU citizens, and most likely there will be a strong shift in a eurosceptic direction. That too is democracy.

  8. Amanda
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    “This is not commonsense and decency against a group of extremists.”

    Well, in many ways, you could say that is just what it is. But, as usual the BBC are on the side of the extremists.

    I am just in the process of finding Internet articles to read to establish for myself what is going on. As you say, it is impossible to find out from our state broadcaster, and I would not even try, but it is not easy from the MSM either. I find the comments on their articles far more illuminating of the arguement.

    • colliemum
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      This is the best article about what is going on in the USA I’ve found – I hope Mr Redwood will let the link pass, because ‘Archbishop Cranmer’s’ blog is one of the most highly regarded British blogs:

      http://www.archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/us-budget-shutdown-what-pro-obama-bbc.html

      There’s no better way to learn about this impasse than reading this article!

      • Amanda
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. Agreed, this is a very good article and explains things very well. How dreadful that both the media and the BBC choose to make this a game of emotion and falsehood. The objective facts are far more interesting.

  9. Man of Kent
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Attention is always concentrated on the BBC and its views ,however others notably Sky,ITV,Channel4 also echo the same line cf Climate Change.

    The main stream media MSM could be a more precise term here.

  10. Cheshire Girl
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    My Husband and I lived in the USA for 15 years and I can attest to the great anxiety suffered by those who did not have health care insurance. This was provided to many through their employer, but others just had to hope they wouldn’t become ill. I personally saw someone turned away from the Doctors office because she had no insurance and couldn’t afford to pay to see the Doctor. I am immensely grateful that this doesn’t happen in the UK.

    I can see both sides of the argument in the USA , that they need together the deficit down, but I really hope than an affordable healthcare scheme will be put in place very soon.

    • Jeffery
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      This comment is interesting because it reflects the way I would feel about not having health insurance in the US. However the fact is that Obamacare is directed at the ‘free rider’ problem in the US healthcare system which sees most of the uninsured as acting deliberately. Below a certain income you qualify for Medicaid, so the presumption is that most uninsured are exercising a choice to spend their money in other ways, especially the young. Yet, if they do fall ill, they rely upon ambulances, hospitals etc being available to them, paid for by others. Hence Obamacare’s mandate to force people to purchase insurance. The details seem a bit of a disaster however. And, as Tea Party type senators have pointed out endlessly, the original law has been extensively altered by presidential executive order in order to address a mounting tide of problems, raising the issue of whether it is any longer the original law they are duty bound to fund.

    • Cliff. Wokingham.
      Posted October 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      I know that many Americans fear an NHS style scheme for their country: they tend to cite treatment rationing and waste as their main concerns however, there is also a very big objection to Obamacare which is not being reported over here in the UK and that is the fact that, Obamacare will force employers to fund abortion and contraception which many people have moral objections to. I listen to US based radio stations very often and I hear objection after objection to people being forced to fund a provision for abortion and family planning through Obama’s scheme.
      It seems to me that, under the current president, The USA has moved towards the leftie, liberal European view of the world which is causing their once great nation to go the same way as our own: down!

  11. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Watching one news report on this an American commentator explained that federal employees were divided into “essential” and “inessential”(sic), and only those classed as “inessential” were not working. Which rather begged the question why they were employed at all if their work was indeed “inessential”, especially given that the federal government is getting itself deeper into debt with every passing day.

  12. Cheshire Girl
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Oops! I really should have read my last post more carefully. I trust that the meaning of the last paragraph is clear, as there doesn’t seem to be any way to edit it. It should have said ‘to get the deficit down’. .

  13. Bob
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Although this article will doubtless lead to a debate over the left and right of U.S. politics, but the real issue is why are we compelled to pay for the BBC if they are unable to provide balanced reporting on such important issues. The BBC pay hundreds of thousands of pounds on lawyers to suppress such information as the Balen Report and the “Twenty Eight Gate” list, which neatly demonstrates their contempt for the people who fund them.

    Our politicians do not have the courage to deal with the BBC problem, especially after seeing the hammering (at huge cost to the public coffers) that Murdoch received when he dared to challenge their broadcasting dominance.

    I have long since joined the refusniks who no longer buy TV “Licenses” to fund an organisation that would be more at home in North Korea.
    Starve the beast.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      It’s only suppression if there’s a legal duty to publish something. Since the courts ruled that the part of the Freedom of Information Act that excluded the BBC meant that it wasn’t required to publish these reports it’s clear that they haven’t been suppressed.

      • Edward2
        Posted October 3, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        Uni
        You do not feel there is a any need for openness and transparency from organisations funded by taxpayers?
        You seem to be saying…only if legally required to..
        How sad

        • uanime5
          Posted October 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          What about all the private companies which receive huge subsidies from the state or the state is their main customer? Should they also be forced to be more open and transparent?

          You’ve also ignored that the state also doesn’t provide information unless they’re legally required to, which is why certain ministers are refusing to provide evidence on how their pet projects (such as academies and universal credit) are faring.

          • Edward2
            Posted October 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

            Poor reply again Uni, trying to falsely claim standard tax allowances available to all businesses are subsidies and therefore they have the same requirements of state bodies that collect and spend every citizens hard earned tax monies
            The state spends our tax money and have a different responsibility and should be more open than just their minimum legal requirement especially as the state controls the legislative process.

  14. alan jutson
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Is the whole argument not about the level of borrowing and Debt ?

    Republicans seem to want less borrowing and Debt, the Democrats more.

    The sad fact is they both do not mind more borrowing, they are simply arguing about how much more !!!

    If only politicians should have to do what every family in the World has to try and do, and that is live within their means.

    Surely if you are planning to borrow in the peoples names (it is after all they who have to pay it back through taxes) then in any democracy there should at the very least be a referendum put to the people to do so.

    For far, far too long, many many Governments around the World have promised what they simply cannot afford.

    The day of reckoning comes eventually, perhaps it is shortly.

    Just look at what happened in Detroit recently !

  15. Bert Young
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    The world has been in the economic hands of the USA since the 1st World War . Printing money and allowing an increase in their debt ceiling has kept everyone on cloud nine and this approach , became the norm for the rest of the world ,with the possible exception of Germany , to follow . Creating debt is not the right solution for stability or growth ; values have to have real substance and meaning otherwise barter and trade become impossible . The “Tea Party” should be supported by not giving way to Obama’s ideology ; by putting their foot down they have shown the pioneering spirit that built America .

  16. John Eustace
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Hmm. The position being taken by the Republican faction is not so easy to defend.
    Obamacare is law and was passed before the last election. The people re elected Obama.
    This attempt by the Republicans is going to damage them politically as they have over reached and Obama will come out ahead by virtue of remaining calm and reasonable.
    Which will make the Fox News crowd even more rabid.

  17. Atlas
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I also found Channel 4’s news coverage last night a tad histrionic and somewhat lacking in balance. Their ‘shock, horror, probe’ format does not do them any favours.

  18. Roy Grainger
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    One of the main jobs of an opposition is to oppose. That is what the Republicans are doing. The US voters will have the chance to remove them at the next election if they do not agree with their actions. Some Democrats seem to find democracy in action somewhat inconvenient.

  19. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    If the Republicans want to take the high road, they should specify the amounts by which total Federal debt should be allowed to rise in each of the next 3 years. These amounts should be chosen so as to eliminate the Federal deficit over that period. That would be a battle worth fighting. The Republicans do not have the moral authority to demand the culling of particular spending programs until they have a majority in both houses.

  20. Ralph Musgrave
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Neither Republicans nor Democrats have grasped the point that for a country that issues its own currency, national debt bears no resemblance to “debt” as the word is commonly understood. Keynsians and advocates of Modern Monetary Theory (of which I am one) have been trying to explain for years that national debt is little different to money (monetary base to be exact).

    Isabella Kaminska (Financial Times journalist) did a blog post on this point in the last 48 hours. See:

    http://dizzynomics.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/its-not-the-national-debt-its-the-national-saving/

    A chunk of national debt is simply a promise by government to pay you £X on a given date. Now what’s the difference between £X and a promise by government to pay you £X this time next month? Not much difference is there?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      If I have the £X I have the £X; if I have no more than the promise of £X some time in the future then I may never have the £X.

      I’ve read that blog post, and I have to say that it’s dangerous twaddle.

      Do you really trust government so much that you’d be happy to allow it to print as much new money as it thinks it needs?

      Why don’t you trust me as well, and allow me to print up as much new money as I think I need?

      • Ralph Musgrave
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        It’s true that governments do renege on promises to repay debt, but when was the last time the UK or US government did that? The only example I know of with our government was when it didn’t repay “post war credits” on time after WWII. But it paid eventually. The chance of the US, UK, German, Canadian, Swedish governments not repaying short term debt (which is what I referred to above) is about 0.0001% I’d guess. Zimbabwe and Greece are a different matter, of course.

        Re trusting government not to print too much money, I didn’t say anything above on that topic. If you’re interested, I don’t think politicians should have any say in how much money is printed, which is very much the conventional view. That decision is in the hands of a committee of economists in the central bank of most countries, and I’m happy with that.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 3, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

          “Zimbabwe and Greece are a different matter, of course.”

          And we want them to remain a different matter, by keeping control over our money supply; but in a democracy control over the money supply has to be democratic, just like control over taxation, and not left to “a committee of economists”; my objection is that so far our elected representatives in the House of Commons have not seen fit to insist that they, not the Chancellor, should exert control.

      • REPay
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        The chief advocates of this theory will be tenured professors and civil servants with inflation proofed salaries and pensions…no skin in the game. They also probably believe that property is theft…

  21. uanime5
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    If there is no deal to raise the debt ceiling, then the Administration would have to cut back on less essential spending to live within its means.

    According to the Republicans this is providing healthcare to the poor. I doubt many people who will be relying on Obamacare would agree.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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