Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Washington negligence


Anyone checked out the U.S. Debt Clock lately? As we teeter on the threshold of a $15T national debt, which we’ll inevitably reach very soon, one might take note of a couple of things: spending outpacing revenues, most taxes and expenditures increasing as payroll taxes and income securities decrease (unemployment comes to mind), spending-to-GDP ratio is at 46.5%, while debt-to-GDP ratio is at 99.8%! So where am I going with this? Well, let’s head in the direction of that so-called Super Committee.

When observing the largest budget items, one will notice that Medicare/Medicaid take the top prize as the largest driver of our debt. Next comes Social Security, and then we get to Defense spending. Currently, as well as traditionally, Democrats are playing the same legislative games as they always have, protect the sacred cow of entitlement dependency, while attacking national defense. From the Washington Times:

The congressional supercommittee was supposed to make all of the hard budgetary choices that representatives couldn’t be trusted to make on their own. As the final deadline looms, it’s looking like the end result will be the imposition of fake spending cuts and real tax hikes.

The debt-ceiling deal struck earlier this year gave this extraordinary panel until Nov. 23 to submit its decisions to the Congressional Budget Office and avoid triggering $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts - half from defense. The committee is supposed to find that amount in deficit reduction over 10 years in order to compensate for the next bump up in the debt ceiling.

A meeting of the minds isn’t likely because, even behind closed doors, Democrats refuse to address the real drivers of our debt: Medicare and Medicaid. Real discretionary spending cuts are just as unlikely.

Both sides will be saying the sky is falling if the supercommittee doesn’t reach a deal, but the drama is contrived. The supercommittee will come to an agreement in time, with smoke-and-mirror spending “cuts” in the out years. There will be no change to entitlement programs. Republicans will fall for empty promises and trade tax hikes for future tax reform that will never happen.

It’s business as usual in Washington, and that’s why our $15 trillion national debt continues to grow.

So, as it stands, there will likely be no cuts, no changes, no reform in any of the entitlement programs, so the automatic triggers will be aimed directly at Defense spending. I wouldn’t argue that there can’t be considerable cuts there, but to skip the leading drivers for political ease is irresponsible governance.

Rush elaborated on this topic in today’s program, explaining the latest on how “Democrats are trying to play a trick on the super committee by taking the savings from all the money that we're spending on the wars that we didn't expect to spend and we're now gonna save that money by spending it on other things.” What?!  Exactly, follow this...

The money that we don't have that we're spending on wars would be saved and spent on other things. That's the Democrat plan here, the super committee to avoid $500 billion in Medicare cuts and defense cuts. So we're gonna take money that we don't have, that we're spending on the wars, and then spend it on other things. And it appears from one source that I looked at today that the Republicans might go along with this.

But it's smoke and mirrors to the max. Taking money that we don't have that we're spending on the wars? The theory is, "Yeah, these wars have gone on much longer than anybody thought. So we're gonna stop those wars, and then we're gonna take that money that would otherwise have been spent and we'll spend that on other things." We don't have the money we're spending on the wars, period. We're in hock. So it's a smoke and mirrors trick, typical of Washington, where there won't be any cuts. They'll just reallocate the money that we don't have that we're spending on wars that will mythically now end and not need the money, then we'll spend that money on other things. It's just convoluted as it can be.

Once again, Congress, whether all 535 members or a committee of 12, allow these deadlines to run down to the wire, and present Obama with the opportunity to appear as the big man in the room, turning the screws tighter, and using the media wing to push his will:

“My hope is that over the next several days, the congressional leadership on the supercommittee go ahead and bite the bullet and do what needs to be done because the math won’t change,” Obama told reporters at a press conference. “There’s no magic formula. There are no magic beans that you can toss in the ground and suddenly a bunch of money grows on trees. We’ve got to just go ahead and do the responsible thing.”

The responsible thing? That would be to CUT SPENDING NOW, sir. Yes, that includes your precious.

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