politics


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The initial market reaction to the actual outcome of the very competitive first round should be positive for risk assets and the euro, though not necessarily ebullient. The extent of the rally depends on what the final numbers say about the strength of Le Pen’s showing, especially now that both Fillon and Benoit Hamon, the Socialist Party candidate who was badly defeated, have rushed to throw their support behind Macron for the May 7 runoff.

Looking ahead, and based on the widespread conventional view that a majority of the French electorate will again seek to vote for any alternative to the National Front, most market participants will likely assume that, when push comes to shove, Macron will be elected president — even though he lacks a political party and now faces the prospect of being pressed much harder on policy positions and past actions.

So Le Pen comes a close second and markets are writing her off? The extreme vote that Fillon and Hamon received will now likely go to Le Pen. That could be enough in a 2 horse race to see her over the line. Another terrorist attack……more votes her way. This thing is far from over and I would prepare for a Le Pen victory. Brexit and Trump could never happen……and yet, here we are.

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So who is likely to win one of the two run-off spots? Well, let’s take a quick look at the field. The current front-runner by just a hair (at 24%) is Emmanuel Macron, a young, smooth-tongued, hyper-educated (Sciences Po and ENA) technocrat who was once Hollande’s economic minister but has never himself held elective office. His newly invented centrist party, En Marche!, is designed to please all sides. He believes in complex market reforms to make government work better. He loves Merkel’s open immigration party and firmly believes in the future of the EU. He is, deliciously, a total outsider that total insiders can feel comfortable voting for. Whatever Marine Le Pen likes, he finds offensive. He is especially popular among the urban and the educated.

 

Trailing Macron by a hair is Le Pen herself–who will almost certainly repeat her father’s feat (considered astounding back in 2002) of qualifying for the second round. She is of course “Madame Frexit”: resolutely populist, anti-immigrant, anti-globalist, anti-Euro, and anti-EU. In recent months, the very possibility of her presidency (she has explicitly promised to redenominate some or all government debt in Francs) has widened the credit spread between Bunds and OATs. Her supporters are disproportionately rural, lower income–and young. According to one recent survey, 40% of 18- to 24-year-olds support Le Pen, nearly twice the share supporting Macron. Youth support for Eurosceptic political movements is in fact the rule in continental Europe (and has been critical where these movements have triumphed, as in Poland and Hungary). Unlike the youth in America or the U.K., the youth in France are desperate–and see no future in the status quo.

 

Hovering in and out of third place is Jean-Luc Mélenchon (at around 19%). Mélenchon, a career politician transformed into a left-wing populist firebrand, has risen swiftly in the polls in recent weeks. As he has become more popular, he has been trying hard to walk back his more incendiary proposals (like 100% tax rates on high earners) to improve his mainstream appeal. But his defiantly anti-establishment message–he calls his movement “La France insoumise” (or “unyielding France”)–actually competes with Le Pen’s emotional space. Like Le Pen, Melenchon wants to “renegotiate” France’s “submissive” relationship with the EU and possibly even pull out. So while Le Pen bashed the unloved EU from the right, Mélenchon bashes it from the left.

 

François Fillon (also around 19%), hammered over the last couple of months for a scandal involving large public payroll payments to his family in return for no work (he was of course shocked–shocked–to find this happening!), is still hanging in there in the polls. He is the favorite among the socially conservative pro-business bourgeoisie. He remains the only real hope that an establishment party candidate might win. Yet Fillon’s program is anything but conventional: He advocates radical tax- and spend- and regulation-cutting reforms that critics not unfairly describe as “Thatcherism” (definitely not a complement in France). So here again an irony: The mainstream “Republican” candidate is prescribing the most revolutionary package of actual policy changes of any candidate.

 

The fifth candidate, Benoît Hamon, is representing the utopian left wing of the Socialist Party after defeating the more pragmatic Manuel Valls in the primary. Squeezed from the left by the outsider Mélenchon, Hamon has no realistic chance. In France, as in most of Europe, the Social Democratic mainstream is rapidly downsizing. If ex-Socialist Macron wins, the Socialist Party in France may disintegrate entirely.

 

Generational membership? It’s a young group. Melenchon (age 65) is the oldest. You can think of him as the left-wing Bernie Sanders of the bunch, though in fact he is ten years younger than Bernie. He and Fillon (age 63) round out the Boomers. Then you have two Gen-Xers: Hamon (age 49) and Le Pen (age 48). And finally there’s Macron, who (at age 39) is getting close to Millennial territory.

 

The less-than-alarming market reaction to the election outcome (no big recent drop-off in EUR or CAC) is predicated on a dominant narrative that the financial media are peddling as gospel. The experts tell us, first, that Macron seems certain to be one of the two winners in the first round; and two, that Macron will win one-on-one against any hypothetical opponent in the second round by a fairly large margin. Sounds logical, right? He’s the mushy “center.” So by default he triumphs over any single opponent who’s not in the center. Et Voilà, France remains a loyal cornerstone of the EU and nothing much changes.

 

The big weakness in this bullish consensus, however, is that elections are decided by both preference and intensity–not just by preference alone, which is all that the polls measure. This is the big lesson we learned in the Brexit vote, where Brexiteers often lagged in overall polls but more than made up for that deficit in their passion to vote and make their preference heard. Today, most pollsters are conceding that the share of voters who are “undecided and unsure”–who may have a preference but are still unsure how or whether they’ll vote–is very large, still around 26% on the very eve of the election. What’s more, the uncertainty varies by candidate. According to the most recent IFOP poll, it is highest for Macron, perhaps around 33%. And it is lowest for Le Pen, maybe only 15%. (Fillon also attracts a pretty dedicated followership.)

 

Another French Revolution? - Are you sure

 

What this means is that no one knows which two candidates will make the cut. For those who are betting on a bullish market reaction–in other words, a “relief rally”–perhaps the best outcome is either Macron-Le Pen (the current consensus prediction) or Macron-Fillon. But consider some more disruptive possibilities, such as those in which Macron does not make the cut. What about Le Pen-Fillon? Most disruptive of all, what about Le Pen-Mélenchon–an outcome in which both candidates are threatening to pull out of the EU? That would trigger a huge sell off.

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Even if–as expected–it is Macron and Le Pen who make the cut, the second round may not be the sure victory for Macron that everyone is assuming. According to Serge Galam, the French scientist and complexity theoriest who predicted Trump would win last fall, the rise of “dégagisme” (literally disengagement-ism) among the uncommitted voters could actually allow Le Pen to beat Macron. And the share of uncertain and abstaining voters will certainly rise much further in the second round, when they no longer get to vote their first choice. If enough voters “voter blanc” (translation: vote “none of the above”) rather than vote for Macron, Galam believes either le Pen or FIllon has an opening.

 

So don’t be complacent. Tectonic shifts are underway in France. Is there the prospect of the new Sixth Republic? C’est vraiment possible.

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he title of the book—Conserving America?—tells us much of what we need to know about Deneen’s thesis. For much of conservative intellectual history in the United States the question of whether or not America should or could be conserved was beyond dispute, and, for the most part, it remains so. This conservation typically takes the form of conservative intellectuals fighting for the preservation of the principles of the Declaration and Constitution against those who seek, to borrow a phrase from Pope Benedict XVI, to read those documents through a hermeneutic of rupture. Interestingly, Deneen argues in the book that if America is to be conserved it will not be through the promotion of conservative principles but in a rejection of those principles. Deneen believes that the philosophy, a Hobbesian and Lockean form of liberalism, upon which the United States was founded, contains the seeds of its own destruction.

Deneen has become, over the course of his long career, one of the nation’s sharpest critics, arguing that America’s founding principles are at their root progressive and at odds with the national self-image preferred by conservatives. Conserving America? is composed of twelve chapters taken mainly from speeches and lectures on subjects ranging from whether in fact America has a conservative tradition (according to Deneen, no) to what will happen when American liberalism possibly falls apart.

Deneen argues that the “Enlightenment and liberal philosophies that informed the American founding posited the existence of radically autonomous human beings in the state of nature, rights bearing creatures who consent to the creation of a government which exists to secure those rights.” But the truth, according to Deneen, is just the opposite. This radical autonomy and the state of nature exist only in theory and it is government that is put to the task of making that theory come into existence.

Deneen further argues that our electoral choices are in fact false choices and that there is a “consistent and ongoing continuity in the basic trajectory of modern liberal democracy both at home and abroad” regardless of whether the political left or the political right is in power. This trajectory results in the concentration of power in the hands of a global aristocracy that controls more and more wealth—an aristocracy that moves “continuously back and forth between public and private positions, controlling the major institutions of modern society.”

Deneen argues that the political left is the greatest beneficiary of this arrangement though they remain silent, or even at times, blissfully unaware of liberalism’s beneficence and focus their attention on identity and sexual politics. The political right, on the other hand, “promises to shore up traditional family values while supporting a borderless and dislocating economic system that destabilizes family life especially among those who do not ascend to the global elite, those outside the elite circles who exhibit devastating levels of familial and community disintegration.” For Deneen, conservatism cannot do both and indeed, its support of a limitless globalism destroys any real basis for a conservative polity.

While Deneen discusses the problems and shortcomings of the political left in the book, it is his critique of the political right that is most interesting. American conservatives would do well to take Deneen’s critique seriously even if they find they cannot fully embrace it. His critique of the destabilizing nature of capitalism is important and that critique should find ears after an election cycle that in many ways hinged on the “forgotten man,” an election cycle during which a major conservative magazine published an article arguing that communities that have been ravaged by capitalist creative destruction in some sense deserve to die, and that the poor people living in them need, more than anything, a U-Haul.

Deneen’s critique of capitalism goes further in that he recognizes that capitalism makes it difficult to have a common good toward which a society can work. Because capitalism is based on the idea that each person working toward his or her own self-interest will benefit society as a whole, it results only in something that resembles cooperation rather than actual cooperation, much less working toward a common good that benefits the whole. This might be okay, argues Deneen following Tocqueville, if not for the fact that the “language of self-interest would [over time] exert a formative influence upon democratic man’s self-understanding” causing him to lose sight of communal responsibility and the common good. The language of self-interest is also deceptive in that “in thinking solely of our own advancement and accumulation, we deceive ourselves in thinking we are wholly self-sufficient and that our success has come solely through our own efforts.” Both of these effects of the reliance on self-interest to direct society result in the breakdown of conscious cooperation and therefore become corrosive to society.

Deneen’s critique of capitalism is instructive but at times it falls prey to what might be called a boutique mentality. For Deneen the ideal community looks something like Bedford Falls from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. In one of his more well-known essays, Deneen sees George Bailey as almost as much a villain as Mr. Potter, for it is Bailey who brings urban sprawl to Bedford Falls, in the form of affordable housing. Deneen sees in Bailey not a hero but an agent of destruction: “George represents the vision of post-war America: the ambition to alter the landscape so as to accommodate modern life, to uproot nature and replace it with monuments of human accomplishment. To re-engineer life for mobility and swiftness, one unencumbered by permanence, one no longer limited to a moderate and comprehensible human scale.”

Deneen argues that a community like Bailey Park cannot sustain trust and community in the same way as Bedford Falls. Deneen sees Bailey Park as the gateway to an America “wounded first by Woolworth, then K-Mart, then Wal-Mart; mercilessly bled by the automobile; drained of life by subdivisions, interstates, and the suburbs.” It’s a long list of wrongs to load on the back of George Bailey. Where should the people who moved to Bailey Park live? They can’t afford to live in Bedford Falls unless Deneen’s critique of capitalism goes further than it seems. Deneen is not altogether wrong about suburban life or urban sprawl, but it’s not clear what a realistic alternative would be without a massive re-appropriation of wealth. Moreover, conservatives have long admired this movie for its opposition, in the form of George Bailey, to a rapacious capitalism: the movie’s alternative view of Bedford Falls had the rapacious banker Potter prevailed is even less attractive. The challenge to Deneen is to demonstrate that there is some path that avoids both forms of consumerism and community-erasing that the movie presents.

Another theme worth grappling with is Deneen’s argument that American conservatism is not at all conservative. Deneen argues that the two main commitments of mainstream American conservatism have been the “strenuous defense of a relatively unregulated market and the insistence upon a strong military posture that extended American power into every corner of the world, often explicitly in defense of promoting universalized liberal democracy …” Neither, he says, supports the local and humane scale of community necessary for the common good and political liberty.

This effectively argues that conservatism’s main goals have been to promote liberalism. In appropriating the tools of liberalism, Deneen argues, conservatism was wildly successful, but its success did away with conservative ways of life like family farming and family-owned businesses. Deneen further argues that conservative promotion of economic and cultural globalization and conservative commitments to the “abstractions of the markets and the abstractions of national allegiance” destroyed the local forms of American life that had sustained distinctive communities across America.

So what is the way forward? Deneen sees the collapse of liberalism as possible even though in his estimation nearly every human institution has been formed to enact and perpetuate liberalism. What reason is there for hope in the face of these odds? Deneen believes that as liberalism becomes more itself, it will become harder to explain its “endemic failures [massive income inequality, the breakdown of community, etc.] as merely accidental or unintended.” Deneen is not overly optimistic on this score. He explains that as the failures of liberalism come out, many proposed alternatives will be even worse and so it is our responsibility to defeat these alternatives and propose in their place something better.

The book’s concluding chapter is titled “After Liberalism,” a deliberate homage to Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. Deneen acknowledges that many of the alternatives to liberalism on the world stage are not comforting, but he urges us to actively hope for the end of liberalism and that it might be a “fourth sailing—after antiquity, after Christianity, after liberalism into a post liberal and hopeful future.”

If we are to have any hope for this future after liberalism, conservatives will need to take seriously the challenges thinkers like Deneen put forth. The effects of liberalism and the free market on community must not be dismissed as intractable or their possible alternatives as unrealistic. Conservatives would also be remiss if Deneen’s critique of the deleterious effects of, especially the philosophy of Hobbes and Locke, as applied through constitutionalism, are not adequately addressed. If conservatives fail to address these problems seriously it will be due to a failure of imagination. In fact it can be said, based on Deneen’s argument, that the only way to achieve the stated goals of conservatism, is to stop being “conservative.”  

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I’m a big fan of Murray Rothbard and have read pretty much everything that he wrote, which was a lot as he was a prodigious author. I came across this article which for the most part was very flattering, but contained these two criticisms.

Unfortunately, Rothbard also sidesteps some difficult problems. The primary argument for having a state at all is that the state can overcome the public goods/free rider problem, while private entrepreneurs cannot. Rather than addressing this argument, Rothbard effectively denies the problem exists, which is no answer at all and certainly does nothing to assuage the doubts of critics. Similarly, in response to the challenge that his proposed private protective agencies would fight among themselves and oppress people, he simply asserts this would be too costly for them and they’d realize peaceful cooperation and trade are more profitable.

Well, no. One could use this logic to “prove” that Al Capone would never order the St. Valentine’s Day massacre of the North Side gang, or that Hitler would never invade Poland. There’s nothing special about whether we call an organization a “state” or not that changes the benefit-cost analyses of the leaders in these matters. Perhaps it’s possible that under certain circumstances an anarchic society could be peaceful and stable, but Rothbard simply ignored the most difficult problems for his theory.

That, to me, illustrates Rothbard’s primary flaw. It seems to me that for him, no argument is too shallow so long as it leads him to a libertarian conclusion. His dedication to liberty is admirable, but as the 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat warned, “The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended.” In my view, by not taking arguments for a minimal state sufficiently seriously, Rothbard ends up deceiving himself and supposing that the case for his anarcho-capitalism is airtight. I think it is not, and there are other examples of this sort of error in Rothbard’s economic, political, and historical writing.[3]

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Well, this comes as no surprise. With Republicans now controlling the Senate, House and White House, they have decided that they didn’t really mean what they said about states’ rights. And they didn’t really mean what they said about personal responsibility.

Out of the House of Representatives, courtesy of Rep. Steve King of Iowa, comes a bill (H.R. 1215) to grant immunity to doctors and hospitals if they negligently injury someone.

Given that 210,000 to 440,000 are estimated to die each year from medical malpractice  — a number that dwarfs the 30,000+ killed by guns — you should care about the subject.

Cynically named as a bill to “improve patient access to health care services” by “reducing the excessive burden the liability system,” the King bill slams an artificial cap on awards for pain and suffering at $250,000 in both federal and state cases, among many other things.

Did the hospital negligently operate on the good leg instead of the bad one? 250K.

Did you lose the good leg? The same 250K.

Did you also lose your previously bad leg because they operated on the wrong  one? The same 250K.

And it comes as no surprise to anyone that lawyers won’t actively jump at the chance to spend hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars on a suit that is so artificially limited. Thus, de facto immunity for most pain and suffering causes of action from medical malpractice.

How does King go all federal on this, going deep into what is most often a state cause of action? By stating that it will apply to anyone that receives health care through a “federal program, subsidy, or tax benefit.” [Copy Of Bill] That means anyone who uses Medicaid, Medicare, veterans health plans or Obamacare.

And by “tax benefit,” it may mean anyone who has a deduction for healthcare of any kind.  Essentially, the idea is to make sure that no one, anywhere in the country, can ever bring a meaningful action for medical malpractice.

The losers in this, of course, are the patients and their families who have already been injured once. And the taxpayers, who are now forced to pick up the tab for the rest of the loss.

King’s bill is based on a faulty premise, that doctors and hospitals order unnecessary tests to protect against malpractice claims. This is the “defensive medicine” theory of why medical costs go up.

But that theory was tested in Texas, and found to fail. As I noted in 2011, the $250,000 Texas cap didn’t stop medical increases. In fact, costs went up faster in Texas than in states that didn’t have a cap.

While doctors may have saved money with fewer suits, and insurance companies may have made buckets more money, it didn’t stop health care costs from rising.

The Texas Experiment also was also supposed to bring more doctors to Texas and more to rural counties. It didn’t work.  Even noted tort reformer Ted Frank wrote, in 2012, that the data from Texas “substantially undermines the empirical case for the conventional wisdom that Texas’s 2003 reforms against medical malpractice lawsuits attracted more doctors to Texas.” Ouch.

Frank went on to conclude:

I, for one, am going to stop claiming that Texas tort reform increased doctor supply without better data demonstrating that.

The real kicker to the artificial caps, of course, is that the taxpayers then get saddled with the costs of the injured person instead of the ones that negligently caused the injury. That’s right, saddling the taxpayers with the costs is a form of socialism. And it is being promoted by alleged conservatives.

The myth that tort “reform” reduces costs was debunked awhile ago. As Steven Cohen noted in Forbes two years ago regarding additional studies, there was no reduction in the expensive tests from states with caps:

That myth was dispatched by the recent publication of a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine. A team of five doctors and public health experts found that tort reform measures passed in three states – specifically designed to insulate emergency room doctors from lawsuits — did nothing to reduce the number of expensive tests and procedures those ER doctors prescribed.

Cohen went on to summarize that none of the “expected” reductions in health care costs came to fruition:

This latest study follows numerous others that deflated other tort reform myths: that making it harder for victims to file medical malpractice lawsuits would reduce the number of “frivolous” suits that “clog the courts;” that imposing caps on the damages victims could receive would reign in “out of control” juries that were awarding lottery-size sums to plaintiffs; and that malpractice insurance premiums would fall, thereby reversing a doctor shortage caused by specialists “fleeing the profession.”

Trump is now on the bandwagon also, or at least whoever wrote this portion of his speech last night:

“Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance — and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs, and bring them down immediately.”

This oblique reference — Trump never deals in details — was presumably put there by his staff, as I know of no other Trump comment on the subject of medical malpractice.

But wait, there’s more! Tort “reform,” you see, has never saved a life. But has it ever killed anyone? Answer, yes!

I addressed that subject a few year back by pointing to plunging payouts at Columbia Presbyterian Hosptial / Cornell Weill Medical Center. A study found that “instituting a comprehensive obstetric patient safety program decreased compensation payments and sentinel events resulting in immediate and significant savings.”

How much did they save by instituting new safety procedures — in pure dollars and cents leaving aside the human misery of injury? “The 2009 compensation payment total constituted a 99.1% drop from the average 2003-2006 payments (from $27,591,610 to $ 250,000).”

You read that right: 99.1% drop. Based on a safety program, not tort “reform.”

Now if Congress wants to take away the incentive for safety, and just give immunity, you can expect continued deaths. The results should have been screamed from the rooftops:

Safety improvements = fewer malpractice payments and healthier patients.

Tort reform = more patient deaths.

Now let’s return to politics, shall we? I just want to close by asking conservatives a few questions, and do so with the knowledge that medical protectionism has already been a proven failure in reducing health care costs:

1. Do you believe in limited government?

2.  Is giving immunity your idea of limited government?

3.  Do you believe in states rights? Would federal tort “reform” legislation that limits the state-run civil justice systems run contrary to that concept?

4.  Do you believe in personal responsibility?

5.  Do you want to limit the responsibility of negligent parties and shift the burden to taxpayers?

6.  If you believe in having the taxpayers pay for injuries inflicted by others, how much extra in taxes are you willing to authorize to cover those costs?

7.  Is shifting the cost of injuries away from those responsible, and on to the general public, a form of socialism?

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The European Union, which only 17 years ago set a goal to “leapfrog” the U.S. in economic growth and innovation, is today on the verge of dissolution. Don’t take our word for it — they’re the ones saying it.

In a recent White Paper, the Euro-Poobahs, led by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, sketched out five scenarios for the future of the EU. One proposal would essentially dissolve the current bureaucratic structure of the EU, and replace it with what once was the sole reason for its existence: A European single market. It’s probably the only hope.

That this is being discussed now tells you everything you need to know about the EU’s dire condition today.

The truth is, none of the 500 million people in 27 European countries that belong to the massively-indebted EU like being ruled by an unaccountable bureaucracy. It has become not merely oppressive, but actively dangerous, advising countries to do economically foolish things and letting masses of “refugees” from the Mideast and Northern Africa migrate to Europe — destroying communities, disrupting law and order, and creating a massive welfare state that requires ever-higher taxes to support.

The truth is, the EU’s top-heavy bureaucrats mandate everything from the ingredients in Parma ham and fruit jam to the size of vacuum cleaners and how bent a banana or a cucumber can be. Other absurd examples number in the thousands, far too many to list.

Even an exasperated Pope Francis has weighed in, saying “bureaucracy is crushing Europe.” Yes, it’s that bad.

Worst of all, the EU is not even a democracy in any meaningful sense of the word. This is what happens when bureaucracy, not people, rules.

Take the elected European Parliament. It meets in Strasbourg, France. But the bureaucracy is in Brussels. So about once a month, the whole Parliament — all 751 members and 9,000 or so others, including staff, lobbyists and journalists — pull up stakes and go to Brussels. And the lawmakers “make” no laws at all. They only vote on laws from the nonelected European Commission — a virtual dictatorship of bureaucrats.

Is it any wonder that dismantling the whole mess is now viewed as a real possibility? Britain is thriving after voting to leave the EU. Maybe the rest of the EU can, too.

And, yes, this is relevant to Americans today. For one, the EU has not “leapfrogged” the U.S. The average American today produces about $52,000 in real GDP. The average EU citizen produces about $35,000. And the gap is growing wider.

Even so, the stagnant, dysfunctional EU is the same vision American progressives have for the U.S. — bureaucratized, undemocratic, heavy-handed and inefficient, soul-less socialism-lite.

The lesson is, Europe would be wise to dismantle the EU while it still has the chance, and the U.S. would be wise not to repeat the EU’s failures.

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Two weeks after David Stockman warned that “the market is apparently pricing in a huge Trump stimulus. But if you just look at the real world out there, the only thing that’s going to happen is a fiscal bloodbath and a White House train wreck like never before in U.S. history” and exclaimed that, when looking at markets, “what’s going on today is complete insanity” he is back with another interview, this time with Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog in which he, once again warns, that a giant fiscal bloodbatch is coming soon, and urges listeners to pay especially close attention to the March 15, 2017 debt ceiling deadling, at which point everything could “grind to a halt.”

As Greg Hunter writes, former Reagan Administration White House Budget Director David Stockman says financial pain is a mathematical certainty. Stockman explains, “I think we are likely to have more of a fiscal bloodbath rather than fiscal stimulus.  Unfortunately for Donald Trump, not only did the public vote the establishment out, they left on his doorstep the inheritance of 30 years of debt build-up and a fiscal policy that’s been really reckless in the extreme.  People would like to think he’s the second coming of Ronald Reagan and we are going to have morning in America.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it looks that promising because Trump is inheriting a mess that pales into insignificance what we had to deal with in January of 1981 when I joined the Reagan White House as Budget Director.”

So, can the Trump bump in the stock market keep going? Stockman, who wrote a book titled “Trumped” predicting a Trump victory in 2016, says, “I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in the hot place that’s going to happen. This is delusional.  This is the greatest suckers’ rally of all time.  It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut.  Donald Trump is in a trap.  Today the debt is $20 trillion.  It’s 106% of GDP. . . .Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built in.  Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less.  He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals.  He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement.  He’s going to do more for the veterans.  He wants this big trillion dollar infrastructure program.  You put all that together and it’s madness.  It doesn’t even begin to add up, and it won’t happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that’s coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that’s already on the books.”

Then, Stockman drops this bomb and says:

“I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th 2017.  That’s the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015.  That holiday expires.  The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion.  It will then be law.  It will be a hard stop.  The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash.  We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate.  By summer, they will be out of cash.  Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises.  Everything will grind to a halt.  I think we will have a government shutdown.  There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace.  There will be no tax cut.  There will be no infrastructure stimulus.  There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.”

 

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