Saturday, November 21, 2009

Time for a Third Party?

Mort Kondracke in yesterday's Roll Call...

With Republicans and Democrats fighting all the time and improving nothing, there's an opening for a third-party challenge as strong as Ross Perot's in 1992…

The likeliest figure to seize upon this opening is populist demagogue (and self-styled "Mr. Independent") Lou Dobbs, formerly of CNN, so let's hope a better alternative appears - or the direction of the country improves.

But, right now, the prospects are dismal. My favorite economic guru, David Smick, editor of International Economy magazine, summarized them in a speech last week at the Colony Club of New York, soon to be excerpted in Commentary magazine.

"Americans are worried," he said, "about a pending national fiscal nightmare that could doom the U.S. economy to slow growth and second-rate status. "They instinctively sense we may be becoming like Britain after the Second World War, quickly fading in relevance, our currency losing credibility, our industrial and entrepreneurial edge dulled, our people deeply frustrated"...

"Reducing unemployment to where it was before the [current] crisis may be impossible," he said. "So get ready for an American work force full of long-term anxiety - and anger."

Smick, once chief of staff to the late Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) and a 1996 presidential campaign adviser to Democratic Sen. Bill Bradley (N.J.), added that the barely recovering economy is burdened by "a 300-pound backpack of personal and public debt."

"Within a decade," he said, "the U.S. will be borrowing $722 billion a year just to pay interest" on the national debt.

"We're about to enter a fiscal trap, chasing our tail just to pay off our creditors. That's the experience of Third World regimes. Their currencies lose all credibility. They suffer from high and crushing interest rates, ending up as wards of the International Monetary Fund."

Smick is an expert on all this. He's made a fortune as an international trader and he wrote a best-selling book, "The World Is Curved," on the dangers of the unregulated world financial system.

Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama ("George W. Obama") have made matters worse, he said.

"Both proposed huge new entitlements with no way of paying for them. Both are at a loss at understanding the means of creating new private sector employment opportunities...

"Both offered the big Wall Street banks an incredible $700 billion in taxpayer funding with no stipulation that the banks lend the money, which today they are not doing."

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Smick says, is trying to keep the economy afloat by holding down interest rates - but all that means is that big banks borrow at zero, invest (often overseas) at 3 percent or 4 percent, make huge profits and refuse to lend to small U.S. businesses, which create 70 percent of new jobs… Smick agrees that the moment is ripe for a third-party candidate - "a problem-solving, no-nonsense leader who can come to Washington to clean out the swamp created by both political parties."

"We need to reignite America's fires of innovation, daring and confidence. If the current crowd in Washington lacks this vision, the American people, I can assure you, will find someone who has it"...

There is an opening. Help wanted.


Justin said...

A third party needs a billionaire to finance it, plain and simple.


Todd White said...

How bout Peter Thiel?

Thiel was ranked #377 on the Forbes 400, with a net worth of $1.3 billion.

He is the co-author (with David O. Sacks, who produced TYFS) of the book The Diversity Myth: 'Multiculturalism' and the Politics of Intolerance at Stanford,

When asked about his political beliefs in a 2006 United Press International interview, Thiel stated, "Well, I was pretty libertarian when I started [in business]. I'm *way* libertarian now."[15] In December 2007, he endorsed Ron Paul for President.

In 2009 it was reported that Thiel helped fund college student James O'Keefe's "Taxpayers Clearing House" video - a satirical look at the politics behind the Wall Street bailout.[18] O'Keefe went on to produce the ACORN undercover sting videos.[19]