Mock the Budget
22 March 2012, 4:09 PM
Your Humble Blogger has been reading Ed Miliband’s response to the Tory Budget, which he delivered in the House of Commons yesterday. It’s a lot of fun—I should probably find the video somewhere, just to see what he actually said, to compare to the as-prepared version. Successful British politicians tend to be quite good at that on-the-fly rewording that I find so fascinating… Anyway, the Conservatives presented a budget in the UK at more or less the same time that our own Conservatives presented a budget, the main difference being that their Conservatives (a) have full control over their government, and (2) are somewhat Conservative, at least some of the time. The main points are the same, though: Millions will be paying more so that millionaires can pay less. Also, An unfair Budget built on economic failure.
My initial reaction, as often happens when a Brit makes a powerfully oppositional speech, is to wonder why we don’t have anybody who can make speeches like that. Of course, we do—if I want to listen to Barney Frank or Bernie Sanders or Maxine Waters or any of a number of fiery speakers. Even Nancy Pelosi, who generally tries to adopt a moderate tone, has been known to catch fire on occasion. Even Our Only President can bring it to the Other Party, if the occasion is right. They do happen.
Of course, it’s also easier to make fiery speeches denouncing the Other Party when you they are the government and responsible for all their policy failures; we can denounce Rep. Ryan’s intentions, but when we denounce his failures, it takes some explaining about exactly what parts of his plan have been tried, and how they failed, and which parts haven’t been tried but are like other things that have been tried, and now they failed, and rhetorically it just isn’t as impressive as blaming the Government for GDP growth under 1%, or for a Business Growth fund that opened six offices and funding a total of six businesses. You know? I remember this stuff from when we were the out Party, and it was full-throated stuff, too.
And there’s the other thing, which is that the British politicians are simply working in a different rhetorical field. There are different ways to phrase things, different sounds, and of course in a parliamentary system, differences of status and class. But just on a wording level, the quote above would have to be Millions of people will be paying more so that millionaires can pay less, which still isn’t bad, but isn’t quite as good.
On the other hand, the recurring rhetoric trope of the speech that claims to define a test for the budget in the Chancelor’s own terms, and then describes how the budget fails that test—that trope would be very successful, I think, in discussing Rep. Ryan’s budget, and the plans that Mitt Romney has. Although, of course, neither of those plans have any details, so it’s harder to make specific claims about their failures. Still, their budgets, to paraphrase Mr. Miliband, destroy the claim they made about who they are and what they believe.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,