David Post: Here's to the red and blue
Two guys walk into a bar. “You boys both work in government, don’t you?” asks the bartender.
“We do,” they reply.
“All you guys are alike,” the bartender says.
“Funny, isn’t it?” says the older guy. “He wants my job.”
“We’re not at all alike,” says the younger fellow. “I’m a true red conservative.”
“Not me. I’m true blue,” says the elder man.
Both roll up their sleeves.
The older guy says, “I’ll have some ale like those truck drivers over there. You?”
“I don’t drink. Do you have Perrier bottled water?” the younger man asks. “How different could we be? The bartender is nuts.”
Blue guy: We’re both Catholic.
Red guy: That proves nothing.
Blue: We’ve both got attractive, smart, professional wives.
Blue: I believe government does good and taxes are how we pay for the common good.
Red: Not me. The less government the better.
Blue: We both supported No Child Left Behind. And it wasn’t cheap.
Red: True, but I think the Department of Education should be eliminated.
Blue: But you supported the creation of a new cabinet position, the Department of Homeland Security.
Red: That was necessary for our national defense.
Blue: You supported President Bush’s stimulus and the extension of unemployment benefits in 2002.
Red: The times were different back then.
Blue: You supported the bailout of the auto industry and worked with Wisconsin’s Democratic governor to get stimulus funds for the GM plant in your hometown. Your buddy from Michigan said we should let the auto industry crash and burn.
Red: You misunderstood. Government spending that clearly saves jobs in Wisconsin is good economic policy. My buddy thought the private market, rather than the government, should have provided the capital in Michigan.
Blue: But the banks had collapsed and there was no private capital available.
Red: He could have found it. That’s what he used to do – fix broken companies.
Blue: With foreign money?
Red: Whatever. He has never asked for a government bailout.
Blue: You supported President Bush’s $700 billion government bank bailout. You even asked your red colleagues to support it.
Red: President Bush said it was necessary to prevent a depression, and it did. That bailout worked.
Blue: But that bailout only saved big banks. A lot of little job-creating banks failed.
Red: Look, big banks are critical to our security. Some banks are just too big to fail.
Blue: You supported expanding Medicare to provide prescription drug coverage to seniors. Drugs aren’t free. That cost trillions of dollars, all with borrowed money.
Red: Prescriptions drugs are essential to health care. The only way to control health care costs is to end Medicare as we know it. And end Obamacare. If we just give seniors a voucher to buy their own medical care, they will force the drug companies and doctors to lower their prices.
Blue: That theory hasn’t worked yet in the private market. Health care costs have risen at double or triple the inflation rate for three decades. Why will it work for seniors?
Red: Because of Obamacare. It’s the cause of all our health care problems.
Blue: We both voted for the war in Iraq.
Red: Of course. I support a strong national defense.
Blue: What about winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Red: Not me. See, we disagree. We can never let up once troops are on the ground anywhere in the world.
Blue: We still need 1,000 military bases?
Red: You can never have too much defense.
Blue: Even your budgets reduce defense spending.
Red: Not until later when the world is a safer place.
Blue: Your budget isn’t balanced until 2040 or later. No one can project national budgets 30 years into the future.
Red: It’s going to take time. At least I tried.
Blue: You’re a good kid, Red. Both Simpson and Bowles who proposed a bipartisan budget compromise describe you as straightforward and sincere.
Red: That’s kind of them.
Blue: Admit it. We’ve agreed on the most expensive financial issues of the past decade.
Red: We disagree on the future cost of Medicare and Medicaid.
Blue: No, we just disagree on who should pay for it.
Red: That’s right. If seniors or poor people want health care, they should pay for it.
Blue: What if they don’t have the money?
Red: They need to learn to save.
Blue: I need another drink.
Red: Don’t drink. Gotta run.
Blue: Against each other?
Red: That’s a thought. Then we can really figure out how different we are.
David Post lives in Salisbury.