Jacob Heilbrunn

Only Fidel Castro, Not Sarah Palin, Can Save Washington, DC from Socialism

Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are marching on Washington. The result of the Delaware Senate primary, where Christine O'Donnell, a founder of Savior's Alliance for Lifting the Truth, who is opposed, among other things, to masturbation, defeated Mike Castle, who has, as far as I know, never taken a public stand on masturbation, is a devastating defeat for the Republican establishment that tried to stop Palin's new pet Mama Grizzly. Palin herself now has to be the favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination for 2012. Her very lack of experience, as with other Tea Party candidates, is her greatest calling card.

The elections results generally show that the protest against Washington, DC has extended all the way to...Washington, DC itself. In Cuba even Fidel Castro is talking about laying off about 1 million state workers and looking to the private sector. But in Washington itself the protest isn't against big government, but the reverse. The locals think it isn't big enough. And so the mayor gets canned if he fires a few hundred incompetent teachers. Washington, DC is starting to look like more of a socialist paradise than Havana.

Thus aggrieved voters in the predominantly African-American areas of Washington voted to oust Mayor Adrian Fenty in favor of Vincent Gray. It's back to the future, as Gray, a hack and protege of Marion Barry, who enjoyed the fervent support of the teachers' unions, which are hopping mad over Fenty's attempts to make teachers teach, promises a "holistic" approach to governing a city. Holistic, shmolistic. Results, not feelings, are supposed to be what govern a city.

But maybe Americans are like Washingtonians writ large. Whether voters really want more than the appearance of change is an open question. Today's Wall Street Journal has a must-read article by Sara Murray showing that the obstacle to cutting the deficit is the American public--it's a nation now weaned on entitlements.

Efforts to tame America's ballooning budget deficit could soon confront a daunting reality: Nearly half of all Americans live in a household in which someone receives government benefits, more than at any time in history.

At the same time, the fraction of American households not paying federal income taxes has also grown—to an estimated 45% in 2010, from 39% five years ago, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization. A little more than half don't earn enough to be taxed; the rest take so many credits and deductions they don't owe anything. Most still get hit with Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes, but 13% of all U.S. households pay neither federal income nor payroll taxes.

When some of the Tea Party candidates make it into the Senate, which they will, how many will continue to espouse their anti-spending credo?

You won't find many in the Republican leadership willing to cut entitlements. Check out Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. He's calling for making the Bush tax cuts permanent, which, the Washington Post reports, would cost the Treasury Department about $4 trillion dollars over the course of the next decade. But when it comes to spending cuts, McConnell is proposing a pathetic $300 billion. The only person in Washington who seems serious about slashing spending is Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Maybe it's time to invite Castro to defect to America and start cutting the government bureaucracy.

(photo by Krokodyl)