Monday, April 18, 2011

A Finnish Tea Party

Being half Finn, I have to chuckle at the success of the True Finns party. Timo Soini is the head of the True Finns, and he was the individual getting the most votes in last Sunday's election. The True Finns won 39 seats in the 200 member parliament, up from six prior to that. The Finnish cabinet had to resign due to the upheaval and it is not clear what a new government will look like.

The True Finns are opposed to Eurozone bailouts of member countries, and any bailout requires unanimity among member countries including Finland.

Mr. Soini had this to say:
“We won’t be dictating conditions for the rest of Europe but we will maintain the right for Finland to decide for itself on money matters,” he said. “Finnish cows must be milked in Finland and we shouldn’t send their milk for charity outside the borders of this country.”
Seems to me that the Tea Party movement has spread beyond the US!

US Debt on Negative Outlook!

The rating agency S&P today put out a negative outlook for the US debt rating, citing a deficit of 11% and no clear political consensus to do anything about it.

The White House had some interesting responses, according to CNBC. Among other things, the White House thought they should be given more time to get things in order before any ratings agencies take action.

Is this the same set of people who complained about slow ratings adjustments as Bear Stearns, AIG and Lehman were going down?

Ah, hypocrisy.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Thank you, Wisconsin!

What a nice boost to optimism on a Friday morning!

Late Thursday afternoon, a county clerk in a Republican district in Wisconsin discovered that a bunch of votes had not been recorded in the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court race, and the net effect gave the incumbent Republican David Prosser a big lead -- big enough even to avoid a state-funded recount. This story has not reached much of the new services yet; read about it here.

The counting is not over yet, so let's not break out the champagne, but this is certainly a nice reversal.

To recap events, Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to shift power away from public employee unions and help Wisconsin cut its government spending had spread to the election for Supreme Court justice. The WI Court had a 4-3 Republican majority and was in line to review the bill that the WI legislature just passed. If the Republican incumbent Prosser lost, the philosophical majority of the Court would not be sympathetic to the legislation. What should have been a noneventful, low turnout, low budget election in a liberal midwestern state turned out to be a national referendum on Republican attempts to cut government spending.

Initial results showed an extremely close race, but with the challenger Kloppenburg in the lead by a couple hundred votes.

I tried hard to rationalize the results, arguing that given the amount of liberal money and media attention, the fact that the race was even close in liberal Wisconsin should be a victory. But it was disappointing, and consistent with my bigger fear: that the public, even in the face of clearly unsustainable Federal and State deficit spending, would lose its backbone and not support drastic cuts in spending.

Now everything looks different. If Prosser wins, the conclusion is thus: Even in a liberal stronghold, after the left's best shots, including weeks of protests in the Madison capital that was covered nonstop in the media, and even given that what the Republicans were doing could easilly be cast in bad light ("stripping away" the right to negotiate by unions in the state that invented public unions) -- the public in the end continues to support the Republicans!

I think the Democrats in Washington who believe that the public will support them in their battle to keep the status quo in Federal government spending better reconsider their assumptions.