Passing The Buck… Yet Again

The Treasury Department is warning that unless the $6.4 trillion debt ceiling is raised the US could go into default. While it’s likely that Congress will simply raise the debt ceiling, already the issue is being filled with partisan recriminations.

Democrats point to the government’s need to borrow more to ridicule President Bush’s tax cuts, his handling of the economy and ballooning federal government budget deficits, which are expected to hit records this year and next.

Republicans blame the lingering effects of the 2001 recession and the costs of fighting terrorism for the need to extend the debt limit.

Both sides are right. The Democrats are right to point out that budget deficits are ballooning. Then they ignore their own point and propose massive government spending increases. The talk of Bush’s tax cuts being the problem ignore the fact that the cuts are phased in over 10 years and have barely been implemented.

The GOP argument is also correct. The economic downturn is going to push revenues down. When people aren’t making money, there’s less to be taxed. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as increased national security and antiterrorism spending also add to the problem in the short term.

However, neither side is advocating the most sane way to get out of this situation. STOP SPENDING MONEY LIKE DRUNKEN SAILORS! It’s not that hard. When people in the real world don’t make as much, they cut back on spending. If my paycheck isn’t as high as it used to be I’m not going to buy a new computer assuming that it will somehow boost my income later. (Well, I might, but I admit that isn’t a very wise choice…) The same should apply to the government. We do not need new and expanded federal programs. We need to cut expensive regulations and tighten existing programs. We need to hold spending at less than the rate of inflation. If that means no more pork, then Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle need to do their part.

4 thoughts on “Passing The Buck… Yet Again

  1. First of all, there’s not much doubt that the debt ceiling will be raised. If it isn’t, the nation’s credit rating will collapse in a matter of hours…and the economy would immediately follow.

    About these “massive Democratic spending increases”, do you think you point out of them? Or at least one that the Republicans aren’t also supporting? Here on planet Earth, it’s the Republicans who control the Presidency and both Houses of Congress, have managed to spend well above historical averages for the past three Congresses, and are about to go on what is likely to become the biggest spending binge of all with the construction of the Homeland Security Department bureaucratic boondoggle. That doesn’t even begin to address the multi-trillion dollar military commitment necessary to accommodate the neoconservative agenda of “liberating oppressed states” of the world through decades of relentless war.

    You actually sabotage your own point by reminding us that Bush’s disastrous tax cutting policy has managed to produce 12-figure deficits before the bulk of the cuts even take effect. Now he plans to add hundreds of billions more in debt on top of the existing record deficits. Not exactly supportive of a “wait and see…things will get better” policy on the endless barrage of child-abusive tax cuts.

    The “cut spending” foot stomp by Washington outsiders shows their ignorance of spending policy and their ignorance of the nature of representative democracy. In order for things to get done, deals need to be made…and these deals involve securing pork that will benefit one person’s district. A Congressman who doesn’t play this game probably won’t get re-elected and certainly will never be a Washington power player. The end result is 535 Congressmen and women who all talk about the need to cut spending….but only on things that affect the other guy. But since the other guy is represented by the Congressman who you need to work with to secure pork for your district, the other guy usually gets what he wants to. The end result in perpetually increased spending. Perhaps not a perfect system, just one of the drawbacks of representative democracy which is for the most part a highly effective form of government.

    The constant comparisons by conservatives of government and private sector finances is a perversion of these two sectors’ roles in a society. Government is intended to act as a form of checks-and-balances against the private sector. When the private sector falls on hard times as it inevitably will given the fluctuous nature of the market, government can and should act to counter that measure in whatever reasonable way it can. To suggest that a shrinking private sector be coupled with a shrinking government is a recipe for financial turmoil and quality-of-life meltdown. The state of Minnesota will soon find this out as it employs a “cuts only” budget-balancing strategy that will only serve to prolong the current state of doldrums the state is in. Hopefully, this reality check will inform spoiled Minnesotans of the consequences to being a Republican state.

    Lastly, I’d like to wonder what happened to the fist-clenching, table-pounding insistence by Washington Republicans that the republic’s future was dependent on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the American Constitution? Suddenly, now that Bush is in power and wouldn’t be able to give away future generations’ money through tax cuts, the Republican silence on the BBA has been deafening.

  2. Strange, I thought the entire point of the US system of government was to check the power of the government over the people – not the other way around. Private enterprise can screw you over – the government can kill you. Personally, I’ve a lot more faith in private enterprise than in government

    You’re unfortunately correct that Washington is built on pork – as P.J. O’Rourke so astutely said Washington D.C. has become a Parliament of Whores – and we’re to blame.

  3. You conveniently dodged the two hard questions I posed to you, so I’ll repeat them.

    #1) Of all the out-of-control Democratic spending you cite, are there any of these spending programs that Republicans are not also supporting? And why are Democratic “free spenders” even in the equation in a one-party government like ours? The days of using Democratic spending as a scapegoat are over for you guys. You’ll actually have to be accountable for your own bad decisions and not defer blame on the Democratic leaders since there are no branches of government that they currently lead. I’m sure you’ll continue to try though.

    #2) What would you guys do if the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution you insisted upon 7 years ago actually became law? How would you be able to continue tax-cutting the nation bankrupt if you were held accountable to balanced budgets every year like most states are?

  4. Fair enough…

    1. You’re right. This isn’t a partisan issue. Republicans are often just as guilty of pork-barrel politics as anyone else. The rates of governmental growth under the Bush Administration have been atrocious. Unfortunately it’s often the better of two evils when it comes to American politics – either the Democrats wasteful spending or Republican wasteful spending. The only reason I tend to vote Republican (although not necessarily always) is that Republicans do commit to reduce government, if they all too rarely do.

    2. I oppose the idea of a Balanced Budget Amendment. While it’s a good idea in theory, deficit spending isn’t necessarily catastrophic. I do believe that the best piece of legislation in recent years was the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that instituted pay-as-you-go budgeting. I believe that actions like that keep budgets under control while simultaneously keeping enough flexibility in the federal budget.

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