We are living the Chinese proverb of being in interesting times and it is a golden era of sorts for America's chattering class. It is also a missed opportunity for the leadership class, which continues its sorry habit of trying to make things appear to be everything but what they really are. No one disputes that the nation's spending addiction is a dead-end road; yet, few people are willing to do anything that even remotely resembles a fiscal intervention.
The president proposed a budget of nearly 4-trillion dollars that, once again, ignored the elephant in the living room. Despite his own rhetoric, during the '08 campaign and even during his presidency, of the need to get the country's finances in order, he put forth a spending proposal that includes hiring 5,000 more IRS agents and continuing the boondoggle of high speed rail. In Congress, the idea of trimming less than 100-million dollars - from a budget of ALMOST FOUR TRILLION - has caused convulsions among some who consider every taxpayer dollar that is earned to be government money awaiting confiscation.
Looming is a vote on raising the nation's debt ceiling, falsely portrayed as something that could cause the nation to default on its obligations. Fresh, grade-A BS. Let me ask you this - when you max out your credit card, does that free you from paying the balance that is due? Of course, not; and the country would similarly have to pay its bills. Not raising the debt ceiling means the government cannot simply borrow even more money. Put another way - when you hit your credit card max, can you call the company and ask for your limit to be raised? Doubtful. Raising the debt ceiling is akin to borrowing from Peter to pay Paul; the downside is that you wind up owing Peter more than he lent you because of interest. When the amounts being discussed are in the billions and trillions of dollars, interest is a hefty sum.
Then, there is the issue of public sector unions in several states. Curiously, the states enduring the most crushing problems are the ones with the largest obligations to public employees. There is likely a correlation there but I could be wrong. Regardless, here is my question: why should membership in a union be a requirement for working in the public sector? And does it seem curious that the consistently pro-choice Democrat Party has an issue with people making choices on the most personal of things? Second, does it seem fair to you that, along with compulsory membership, union dues are automatically deducted from an employee's paycheck, whether the employee is okay with that or not? Third, this process reeks of conflict of interest and here's how: the union dues are typically used to fund electoral campaigns of Democrat officials, though it would be just as wrong if the money went toward Republican candidates. In essence, unions siphon off taxpayer dollars in order to give to the campaigns of politicians whom they will lobby later for even more taxpayer dollars. That's not the democratic process, that is a Mafia-style protection racket.
Voters spoke loudly and clearly in November, screaming "no" to more government spending. Whether you agree or disagree with that is immaterial. Elections have consequences; we spent two years hearing that from a Congressional majority that rammed through as many things as possible, public opinion be damned. With the shoe firmly on the other foot, the same folks are now squawking about bipartisanship, compromise, and negotiation. Here's a clue: how about the lot of you stop acting like children, stop treating the federal treasury and state budgets as your personal slush funds, and do what even elementary school kids know has to be done.
It's called leadership and I realize that it is a scarce commodity among the political class. Today's soundbite culture makes it easy to vilify anyone who proposes anything that smacks of responsible government. And, responsible government can happen; I have seen it done by honorable men and women who realized that compromise is not a dirty word. It just means no one gets everything they want; at the same time, action that benefits the masses winds up being taken. Stop with talk of government shutdowns, stop running away to other states to avoid your constitutional responsibility, and stop whining and talking past each other. In short, do your damn jobs. No one made you run for office; politics is a choice. So is being responsible.