American Elephants

Democrats Play Politics While the Country Burns. by The Elephant's Child

From listening to talk radio, there is some confusion out there about budget matters.  Democrats, last year, never got around to passing a budget for fiscal year 2011.  That is the main, number one, most important duty of the House of Representatives— to pass a budget that appropriates the money to run the government.  Democrats were busy in the back room, passing a health care bill, clearly hated by the majority of Americans. But that’s another story.

Money must be appropriated or nothing happens, nobody gets paid, and duties are not carried out. What they do then, is kick the can down the road a little bit, and pass a “continuing resolution” for a few days or a couple of weeks to keep things going. Republicans, newly elected, are determined to cut the budget.  Remember that Republicans control only one house of one-third of the government.  Democrats control the Senate and the White House.

The Tea Party, having been active in bringing about the change in majority, wants action now! They are confusing the modest billions attached to budget FY2011 continuing resolutions with their impatience to start fixing the debt problem now.  The leadership in the House is attempting to get as much as they can manage cut in each continuing resolution, but whatever they pass must also be passed by the Senate and be signed by President Obama to go into effect.

Democrats are anxious to force the Republicans to shut the Government down.  They did it during the Bush administration, and, unfortunately waylaid the Bush attempt to reform Social Security by allowing those who chose to invest a small portion of what they were paying in to Social Security.  Democrats screamed about “granny being forced to eat dogfood,” and “extreme,” and  “dangerous” loudly enough to frighten the public.  They are sure they can do it again. Maybe so, maybe not.  People are more aware of the approaching menace of debt.

So the Republican strategy is to put a few billion in each short-term continuing resolution. Not enough to really scare anyone. Some in the Tea Party want to shut the government down right now.  Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead. Everyone the Republicans and even some Democrats are anxious to make some progress on stopping the tsunami of deficit spending. The Leadership wants to do what is possible to get through the Senate.

The big deal is Obama’s budget for 2012.  Different matter. Obama has been uninterested or at least uninvolved. He wants Congress to fight it out while he gets on with his reelection campaign. He speaks well in a nice baritone voice, has a nice turn of phrase here and there on the teleprompter, and many do not notice the overused clichés or the fact that his words are unrelated to his actions. It’s his standard trick.  He will hang back, passive, observing, until things turn his way then he will stride to the front claiming credit.

Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury, admitted to Congress that the CBO estimates of the president’s budget showed it to cost more than they had estimated, and that the deficit spending was not sustainable. It would be nice if the Democrats put aside politics for a while, and tried to do what is right for the country.

The Republican budget will better the Debt Commission’s recommended cuts of $4 trillion, and set the country on a path to recovery.  They’ve just begun to fight.

ADDENDUM: The United States will reach its statutory debt limit no later than May 16, unless Congress votes to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a letter on Monday. This is where the government shutdown comes in.  Republicans say they will not agree to any increase unless Democrats agree to substantial cuts in spending.

Winston Churchill Has Some Advice for President Obama by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama, confronted with a sea of red ink, did what presidents often do when they want to avoid the subject.  He appointed a Debt Commission.  The Commission did hard work, came up with good suggestions for cutting back.  Obama ignored the Commission, and produced a budget full of gimmicks that doubles and triples the debt held by the public since he took office.

President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget:

Spends too much

  • $3.8 trillion in spending; 25.3% of GDP (highest since WWII)
  • $46 trillion over the next decade. $8.7 trillion in new spending.

Taxes too much

  • $1.6 trillion tax hike on families, small business, and job creators

Borrows too much

  • $1.6 trillion deficit for FY 2012, a record third straight trillion dollar deficit.

The Debt Commission recommended spending cuts of $4 trillion.  The GOP will unveil their budget this week.  Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said they’re going to do better than that. He said “we will be exceeding the goals that were put out in the president’s debt commission, by cutting spending, reforming entitlements and growing our economy.  Look, we intend to not only cut discretionary spending and put caps on spending, you have to address the drivers of our debt.”…

Now the good thing we have going for us is we have time to fix this problem. So the kinds of reform we’re going to be putting out there won’t make changes to people who are already in or near retirement.  If you’re 55 or older, you won’t see changes. … But if we keep kicking the can down the road and keep making more empty promises to people,ten we’ll have the European kind of pain and austerity.

I happened to run across a some words from Winston Churchill that seem to fit. (From a speech to the House of Commons, May 2, 1935)

It is possible that the dangers into which we are steadily advancing would never have arisen…[but] when the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which might have effected a cure.

There is nothing new to the story.  It is as old as [Rome]. It falls into that long dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind.  Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong—these are features which constitute the endless repetition of history.

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