Greetings! I have refrained from posting a comment over the last two weeks for a few reasons: I felt like rhetoric had become completely overheated and irrational; the mainstream media and even those who suggest they reflect the thinking of specific interest groups had gone completely off the rails; I had made my opinions known in the weeks leading up to the shutdown and debt ceiling increase, and saw little reason to keep repeating myself. Now that the shutdown is over and the debt ceiling increase passed, though, I'm feeling there's some oxygen in the atmosphere again.
I'd like to begin by posing a few questions:
1) Is a $17 trillion deficit a good or bad thing for this country?
2) Did Barack Obama really mean it when he voted against raising the debt ceiling and called George Bush's $8 trillion deficit "unpatriotic"?
3) Is it a good thing that we have approved a debt ceiling increase for nearly $1 trillion that will only take us through January 7?
4) Does anyone really believe anymore that a full implementation of Obamacare will not contribute to a further increase in the deficit?
5) Why do Democrats now want to insist that sequester cuts need to be eliminated when they claim to really want to do something about reducing the deficit?
6) Does anyone really think that Paul Ryan and Patty Murray will agree on anything that averts another shutdown? Or that really contributes to deficit reduction as opposed to decreases in the rise of spending?
I'm sorry, folks, but if you're okay with any of this, you are going to end up on the wrong side of history. In the five years of Obama's presidency, he has now doubled the deficit incurred by all the
presidents before him. You want to blame George Bush, blame George Bush. You want to complain
that the stimulus wasn't big enough and that's why the economy hasn't recovered sufficiently, blame the stimulus. You want to say that the economy has somehow been stifled by Republicans who only want to see Obama fail, please - blame Republicans. At this point, the whole back and forth is becoming completely irrelevant to me because there are several undeniable truths which neither side can avoid:
1) Pass a budget. Send it to conference committee. Continuing resolutions then become moot. Why can't we pass a budget during this administration?
2) Debt ceiling increases are only required because the Congress can't come to any reasonable agreement about how to reduce spending. Democrats want tax increases, don't want to reduce benefits to the aging or those in need and, ultimately, refuse to agree to restructuring the tax code to a "fair" or "flat" tax structure which requires contributions by all. Republicans (at least a few of them) will not endorse an increase in rates that penalizes capital gain investment or which unfairly targets
job creators for income redistribution purposes. You guys need to get real. We will turn out every and
any Republican who would endorse such changes. So,
3) Work on a longer term program which anticipates a gradual reduction in debt over a ten year term. Raise the age for eligibility for Social Security benefits. Reduce benefits for those whose retirement incomes eclipse certain benchmarks. It cracks me up when I hear liberals say that life expectancies when Social Security was created were such that some people were expected to collect and others would not. Are they suggesting that the plan was designed to in essence confiscate retirement set asides for a segment of the workforce?? In their world, I guess, those actuary predictions were acceptable and now we have to make adjustments because life expectancies have been extended. What about giving people some incentive to take on this planning for themselves? Why is this notion so abhorrent?
4) Large, extreme changes in the status quo will be required to rectify this situation. Liberals want to put this off, kick the can down the road (one of the most hateful colloquialisms ever coined), pass the problem along to someone else. People who associate themselves with "tea party" notions don't want to wait, aren't afraid of making tough choices, are prepared to sacrifice their benefits for the sake of their children's' and support without reserve the approach of people like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. There - I said it.
If both major political parties cannot figure out some reasonable method for passing a budget, resolving it in conference, gradually bringing some control to spending and the deficit, and getting some governors on entitlement programs (including the lunatic new "affordable" care act), the recent controversy over the shutdown and debt limit increase will seem tame in the waning years of Obama's second term.