Did Anyone Watch Jon Stewart’s Daily Show Last Night?

"You're so giddy", Stewart said. "You're jumping up and down in your chair like an excited schoolgirl on the prospect of leaving Washington."

Stewart and Goolsbee trading Washington stories

“You’re so giddy”, Stewart said. “You’re jumping up and down in your chair like an excited schoolgirl on the prospect of leaving Washington.” Jon was talking to his show guest Austan Dean Goolsbee, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and the youngest member of the presidential cabinet; until the end of this week that is.

Goolsbee was so giddy with the idea that by the end of this week he was leaving to go back to his professoriat at the University of Chicago, that I wonder if 11 month of service in Washington (he came aboard on September 9, 2010) is akin to a tour of duty in an active warzone. Actually he already rendered his resignation exactly nine months into his term on June 6; not a sign of a successful tenure in my opinion.

Goolsbee’s relief getting out of Washington was palpable and it begs to wonder why things have gotten so bad in our Nation’s Capitol.
For one, I think it is amazing how debt ceiling debate between the political elite has twisted the English language by making the words “compromise” and “bipartisanship” sound virtuous, in a similar way words like “truth” and “honesty” hold a value outside of DC. What is worse, is actually that political compromises in Washington are killing of the US economy and in particular any form of free market.

Here is why: Rarely does compromise benefit the small-government side of the argument. Instead, compromise increases the size of the state involvement in every day life step by step. For example, suppose the left wants $2 billion for organic school lunches. Of course, the free-market guys are against this bill; they want $0 dollars in extra spending. So, what’s the compromise? The two meet at $1 billion.
But this only makes one side better off. In a true compromise, each side would get something. In this case, spending grows by $1 billion, and the small-government side gets nothing from the deal. Future spending was simply reduced from $2 billion to $1 billion. The small-government advocates are further away from their goal than they were prior to the deal. In a way, this really isn’t a compromise at all.

One could think of similar examples to prove the point. Suppose someone wanted to put ten drops of rat poison in your food. Does negotiating the person down to five drops improve the situation? No, it doesn’t. That’s exactly how America has been poisoned over time. Sometimes the dosages are smaller, but it’s the same lethal stuff for our long-term fiscal situation.

But “The struggle to lose less” has become the definition of a Washington compromise. A real compromise would involve a tradeoff where both parties gain. But the way it works in Washington is like this: “I’ll sign your war spending bill if you sign my local pork stimulus bill.” And that’s a real D.C. compromise – and a third party is the real loser, i.e., the American taxpayer who has very little to no option available to protect his beleaguered savings or already pitifully shrunk wealth.

Goolsbee, apparently an academic with a conscious, is happy to leave the Beltway Burglars to their own games and go back to the protection of an Academic environment. Being a well connected Democrat,  he expressed pity for his boss Obama, having to stay behind in Sodom and Gommorah. When Stewart immediately reacted: “He doesn’t have to,” Goolsbee just shrugged and left the answer in an open vacuum.

Maybe the smarter rats are leaving the sinking ship to the knuckleheads now that the prospect of the double dip recession we have been announcing for a long time, is knocking on our front door with a sledge hammer.

Leave a Comment