Guess what. Both sides are blowing smoke up your you-know-what. Yes, you read that right.
President Obama wants to be seen as a spender (to his leftist friends) and a cutter (to the independents that he has lost approval ratings to) at the same time. Obama uses his class warfare arguments of soaking the rich to save the Democrats' pet programs. Obama threatens to stop Social Security checks for the elderly. The US Tax Cheat-in-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has basically said the sky will fall if the debt limit is not raised.
Republicans on the other hand are using their own tactics. Instead of class warfare and doomsday scenarios, they are using shell games and calling them cuts in the budget. We learned our lesson the first time around when Speaker Boehner promised $100 billion in cuts, but fell well short, while in fact cutting only about $320 million dollars. So we've been down that road before. Only this time, Boehner has Rep. Eric Cantor taking fire for him from the Democrats and their media allies while seemingly throwing Rep. Paul Ryan and his plan on the trash heap.
To say Washington spends like drunken sailors is an insult to drunken sailors. The fact is Washington has no intention of cutting the budget. Both sides are basically arguing about how to rearrange the numbers to make it look like they are cutting the budget and jockeying for position on who will take credit for the "cuts".
Both sides know they have created 2 monsters they cannot stop. Unfortunately, these two monsters will not be fighting each other like Godzilla and Mothra in another fantastic English dubbed movie. Instead, Washington needs to feed the two monsters' mouths, but they have run out of food - the debt ceiling (and our tax dollars, but that hasn't stopped them from printing more...).
One monster Washington created is the growth of government itself, and that's besides any argument about regulation. I'm merely talking about spending. Washington seems to never stop coming up with some new government program or some kind of "stimulus" package claiming "we must spend our way out of the recession". I don't want to beat a dead horse, but that didn't work under Herbert Hoover and it didn't work under FDR (my apologies to Maynard Keynes' ghost).
The other monster Washington has created is the entitlement society. Social Security, Medicare, you can go down the list. We have become a nation that is dependent on the government for better or worse. Washington has spent trillions of dollars on the War on Poverty. Washington has tried to "cut fraud and waste" out of Medicare (but will still pay for penis pumps). Washington has even gone so far to create a new entitlement of Obamacare. It seems now there is a "right" to everything from high-speed internet to owning a house. And most of the time, those "rights" are an extension of some government program that Washington has no money to fund the programs.
As I stated above, both monsters are fed by the national debt and the debt ceiling is the bottom of the feed trough. Like it or not, our government has run out of money. Our national debt is now approaching 100% (and more) of our entire country's GDP. Despite President Obama saying we are not Greece, who has a similar problem; we are heading in that direction - fast. Greece is a democratic socialist country who has a very generous entitlement system. Greece's entitlement program and its government spending helped topple that country's economy. To think we aren't heading that direction is pure folly.
So what is left for Washington to do? The Democrats want to raise taxes and make symbolic cuts. The Republicans just want to make symbolic cuts. But why? Because they know if they go after the sacred cows of entitlements, the party that gets the credit for doing so is toast in the next election. Cutting government is popular, but everyone wants smaller government until Washington cuts a program they like.
You're probably saying to yourself "great, then we're screwed". No we are not. Instead of making false cuts or false cuts coupled with tax increases, reject the debt ceiling raise out right. Let's have the argument now, consequences to electoral politics be damned. Besides, Erick Erickson on his radio show the other night put it out there correctly. Erickson stated that the American people hate Congress, but they always give credit to the President for good times and bad. If government shuts down that it won't be Congress' fault; it'll be President Obama's fault. Starve the monsters to calm the beasts whether the beasts like it or not.
While we are on the subject of the national debt, has nobody noticed how much President Obama has added to the national debt in only 2 1/2 years? Under President George W Bush's 8 years, the national debt rose from $5.727 trillion to $10.626 trillion (1/20/2001 - 1/20/2009). Under President Obama, the national debt has risen from $10.626 trillion to $14.342 trillion (1/20/2009 - 7/15/2011 at 6:20pm). +++By the way, if you notice, that is above the supposed debt cap of $14.3 trillion and the world did not end, the sky did not fall, and life went on+++
The difference in the rise in national debt between President George W and Obama is just $1.283 trillion and the projected budget deficit for this year? $1.5 trillion. If the US loses a jet or two pursuing Obama's war in Libya, Obama will make up that gap pretty quick. By my calculations, by this time next year President Obama will have exceeded George W Bush's additions to the national debt by 5 1/2 years. Not something that I'm sure President Obama wants to deal with during an election year, which I am certain is a major driver behind these current debt ceiling negotiations.
So excuse me for being cynical regarding this whole debt ceiling negotiation thing, but I've heard this all before like when President Obama promised to "cut the budget" with a mere $100 million in supposed cuts to various Cabinet budgets. President Obama was even quoted as saying
"We also have a deficit - a confidence gap - when it comes to the American people," he told reporters. "And we've got to earn their trust."
Boehner is no different and we outlined his ridiculous math regarding budget cuts earlier as well and he does not have the political backbone to challenge President Obama.
Crossposted from Downstate Illinois Advocate