Mike Lee, Please Read Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu probably had no idea that his treatise “The Art of War” would still be often cited and respected over 2500 years after his death. It’s a masterpiece of strategic thinking that applies to any conflict be it military, political, or even athletic. The United States armed forces have even gone so far as to require that the book be in each unit’s library. One of the most prescient quotes from the works is “victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” Mike Lee seems to have completely skipped this part when agitating for a government shutdown.

I get why he’s doing it. Federal programs, once enacted, are very difficult to undo no matter how unpopular they get. If you don’t believe it, remember that a “temporary” phone tax enacted for the Spanish-American War was repealed sometime during the Bush Administration. For them, this is the last stand before a program they legitimately believe to be horrible rolls forward. The House is following because elections matter. It’s no coincidence that in the two federal elections after the ACA passed, the opposition party took control of the House. They rode in on a promise to undo the ACA, and they’re determined to fulfill it. If they don’t fight hard enough for the base, they’ll get replaced.

The problem is that while a shutdown could have potentially been a Battle of Rorke’s Drift, it’s starting to look a lot more like The Alamo. Lee has to be smart enough to know that a shutdown was coming and when it would happen. Given those circumstances, you’d think he would have laid the groundwork for explaining the issues with the federal budgeting process, the unworkability of creating new entitlements beyond the reach of Congress (which now comprises a full 2/3 of federal spending), and why playing a game of chicken to see who blinks first would be the best way to force the hand of a dug-in Senate and President. Instead, absolutely no narrative or purpose to the shutdown was created and the first to market ideas are now the defining narrative. Lee can’t even properly capitalize on the ham-fisted way in which national parks are being closed down, a prime piece of low-hanging fruit.

The failure to figure out how to win before picking the fight never ends well. It has already distracted media attention away from the train wreck that is the ACA launch and numerous stories about huge premium increases, both things that would build popular support for 2014 and beyond to eliminate the ACA. About the only silver lining is that the two parties have pretty clearly defined who owns the ACA and its attendant problems. I wonder if Mike Lee will find a way to screw that up too.

9 Responses to Mike Lee, Please Read Sun Tzu

  1. Senator Lee might want to read the polls, as well. The Republican Party has reached 28 percent, lowest approval ever. A majority of Utahns oppose Lee. 40 percent had a “very unfavorable” view of Lee, and 11 percent had a “somewhat unfavorable” view of him.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/mike-lee-favorability-poll-98137.html#ixzz2hMFzI2JF

  2. No argument that healthcare.gov is a train wreck, Most of the State exchanges are working nicely however, so it is clear once the technical problems with the site are hammered out it will become a nice tool.

    However I do take issue with the blog post decrying huge premium increases for young people. It is little more then a hack piece that leaves out several rather large and important bits of information that toss their conclusion on its head.

    Yes unsubsidized rates are higher, of course Obama care requires better plans then the joke high deductible plans that young people have been stuck with.

    And with subsidizes plan rates are very reasonable, for many young people they can take the subsidies and apply them towards a bronze plan and pay very very little or often nothing.

    And in places where the medicaid expansion is accepted, nearly all college students, and large swaths of entry level young workers will pay nothing.

    May I suggest you take a look at Utah’s plan options before jumping to conclusions. I will even provide a link below(seeing as healthcare.gov is broken atm)

    http://www.valuepenguin.com/ppaca/exchanges/ut

    That even gives you a tool that can guesstimate the subsidy for you.

    However,

    http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/

    is a better calculator for the subsidies.

  3. Mike Lee is the strongest argument there is in support of the Count My Vote initiative. Senator Bennett would have been part of the solution—not part of the problem as Mike Lee continues to be.

    • It’s the only argument. Count My Vote should just change their name to “I’ll burn down the entire state if I can get ride of Mike Lee”. That attitude is ironic given the current arguments against him.

  4. Leaves me to wonder if Matheson will attempt to change his title in 2016 to senator running against Mike Lee, A democrat senator from Utah wouldn’t that be a hoot. I could easily see large swaths of republicans voting against the flailing idiot that is Mike Lee as well.

    I wonder what the chances are that Lee would lose a primary in 2016….

  5. Will you be posting an outline of who you are voting for in the Salt Lake County 2014 Elections? I find it very informative! One of the best places I have found information about candidates…

    • Thanks, Ashley. I moved to Cedar City two months ago and won’t likely be offering further endorsements in SL County races (unless some crazy candidate actually wants to ASK for it).

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