It took us many decades to dig ourselves into this hole, but at least there are some Republicans out there looking to build the ladder to climb our way out. (Obviously they have already adopted the common sense to know we can’t dig our way out of a hole, as President Obama seems to think.)
The Republican Study Committee came up with a budget that’s supposedly going to balance by 2017. Now I know this brings back memories of President Clinton telling us that the budget would be balanced in four, five, six, seven, or ten years (take your pick; he pretty much promised all of them) and of course, the Congress we have in five years could be completely different than the one we have now. So there’s no safe prediction in Washington, just as it was a surprise that Clinton adopted budgets which were at least nominally balanced thanks to Newt Gingrich and House Republicans.
Yesterday evening he released a short statement on the passage of the House budget, which was the Ryan plan widely described by Democrats and in the media (but I repeat myself) as draconian because it balances the budget at some far-off point by changing entitlement programs – the bulk of our spending. But given the propensity of Congressional change, the farther away we place the goalposts the less chance we have of reaching them. Imagine where we would be if we had maintained the fiscal discipline we had fifteen years ago. (I know, I know, this is where the liberals blame the Bush tax cuts and fighting two wars for deficit spending. So what’s Obama’s excuse for blowing an even bigger hole in the budget?)
Here’s what Harris had to say:
Today, House Republicans passed a budget that takes the first step in restoring the American dream by placing America on a path to prosperity and opportunity. The House budget will put America on a sustainable trajectory to end trillion-dollar deficits and help secure the retirement and health care programs, like Medicare, for our nation’s future. Last night, President Obama’s budget was unanimously rejected 414-0. It’s clear that even House Democrats agree that the President’s plan only leads us on a path to bankruptcy by adding another $11 trillion in additional debt and by imposing $1.9 trillion in new taxes on hard-working families. I hope that the Senate will finally take action on a budget after not passing one in over 1,000 days. It’s time for the Senate and the President to work with the House to place America on a path to fiscal stability.
Yes, Obama’s budget failed to have a single House member stand in support of it (seventeen did not vote.)
Now what I wonder is whether Harris was going to release this news item whether we passed the Ryan budget or the RSC budget; in truth the boilerplate rhetoric could apply to both. But Harris voted for the RSC budget, joining 135 other Republicans in doing so. Unfortunately, 104 Republicans were too scared to face the problem head on and that’s what’s so frustrating. Instead, all but 10 Republicans (of which seven voted for neither alternative, for various reasons) can write the same boilerplate and claim they’re doing something about the budget.
Obviously if we wanted some short-term political pain for long-term gain we could balance the budget tomorrow. But we have too many people who depend on the government for their sustenance to make that a realistic possibility. Seniors would march in the streets if someone took away their Social Security check or if the doctor told them they had to pay fee-for-service. “We paid into the system and we were promised it would be there!” they would scream. Unfortunately, while we on the conservative side believe that liberals are stupid, they are not. It was a tangled web of dependence on entitlement programs they weaved over the last 75 years, and extricating ourselves from it won’t happen overnight.
So the RSC proposal was probably as good as we were going to get for the short-term. In the long term it would take a herculean effort of trimming down spending and, more importantly, making sure those in charge of government had that mindset – that’s the difficult part.
Let’s use Harris as an example. When we campaigned in 2008 and 2010, he said he would only serve 12 years at the most. I’ll take him at his word there, although we’ve had politicians say this and serve two decades or more. Not only do you have to make sure to re-elect him every two years, you also have to cultivate a conservative to replace him and keep a watchful eye to make sure he’s staying on the correct path.
On the other hand, it’s very easy to win re-election term after term by promising the voters all sorts of goodies if they are elected and blaming others when they don’t appear. That’s why the Democrats promote class envy and divisions by race and ethnicity – they’re whipping boys to deflect blame away from their failure to deliver on the promises they made. The involvement of Barack Obama in the Trayvon Martin killing is a prime example, along with the Democrats’ promotion of the Occupy movement – generally tacit, but they’re not condemning the lawlessness and excess of the Occupiers like they did in their contrived charges against the TEA Party.
It’s quite telling that the period which saw the entrenchement of the welfare state that seniors now depend on coincides mainly with the decades where Democrats controlled Congress, particularly the House. There’s nothing new about machine politics as it’s been perpetrated by both parties on a local and state level but the federal government is where the real game is played because, like Willie Sutton supposedly said when asked why he robbed banks, that’s where the money is. (He didn’t actually utter the words, but the point remains.)
I feel really bad for the next generation because they’re going to have a huge mess to clean up, and a nation at serious risk of failure for the first time in many decades. While the Germans and Japanese couldn’t take us out militarily and the Soviets wouldn’t play chicken with mutually assured nuclear destruction, there’s a real possibility our nation as we knew it could fall without a shot fired from an invading power.
For generations we’ve paid lip service to the fact that we spend much more than we take in, but the bill never seemed to come due. Well, guess what – we’ve had our seven-course meal featuring the most expensive items on the menu and the finest wines, and the waiter is approaching with the bill. We can’t duck out of the restaurant now.
The Ryan plan is a baby step, and I’m giving the golf clap to Harris for backing it. But the RSC measure was far superior and I wish he had explained that to his constituents instead of just putting out his tepid release.