Friday, April 22, 2011

Budget Woes

It did not surprise me one bit to tune in to the 10 p.m. news a couple Friday nights ago and learn that our lawmakers had forged a last-minute deal to avoid a government shutdown. I believed all along that is what would happen.

The Dems were saying the Repubs were "holding government hostage" over social issues and were "sacrificing women's health." The Repubs were saying the Dems are still not getting serious about cutting government spending and they had to do what "the American people" had given them a mandate to do -- government shutdown be damned (I paraphrase, of course).

And folks, you can count on hearing those sound bytes again as we move toward the 2012 elections, which will come far too soon.

My opinion? Well, I think the Republicans should not have put the nation at risk of a shutdown over funding Planned Parenthood. Not that I believe that PP should receive government funding but it's not like this is anything new.

I also think, if we're ever going to get serious about getting this country out of its crippling debt, something's gotta give.

Wife and I were talking about it just recently. It was a timely conversation because earlier that day Wife had written the check for what we owe the government over and above what we had already paid in. The number was actually less than what we had thought it might be, so for that we were pleased, but then Wife shared with me the total we paid in 2010 and it's mind boggling.

And I shared with Wife how I had just read in the local paper about the shortfall our county government is facing. It just seems, I told her, that on every level -- municipal, county, state, and federal -- governments are spending more than their resources allow and different factions of those governments are fighting about what to cut, if they should cut and whether or not taxes should be raised.

I offer all of this as information with no editorial comment.


Along the same lines, since the compromised budget (band-aid) was announced, President Obama did a victory lap at the Lincoln Memorial, then went on the road jabbing at the Republican plan every chance he has had.

And the Republicans have fired back, lamenting a president who refuses to lead.

And in the midst of it all, Donald Trump has gone on the news shows telling us what a great president HE would be. I will tell you this: if anything might ever make me vote for a Democrat, it would be Donald Trump running as a Republican.


Here's my fantasy:

President Obama says, "You know, I've come up with a budget plan. The Republicans have also come up with one. We don't agree on everything but, by golly, I believe we both have the best interests of our citizens in mind and I think we can get together and make some tough decisions. I'm sure going to try."

And Speaker of the House John Boehner says: "The president has come up with a budget plan. I just got off the phone with him and told him there is much we disagree on, but we should try our best to get together and come up with something that addresses this deficit which will have devastating consequences if we don't get a handle on it."

Notice that in neither of these statements does anyone say anything derogatory about the other's political party.

Too good to be true?


Bob Barbanes said...

(Finally got around to publishing this, eh? Great post!)

Bob, you're right: Something's got to give. We talk about "cutting spending" in an abstract way. But here's the deal- someone's going to LOSE. They'll lose their job, or their retirement, or their benefits. We Americans are naive if we think that the government can make some cutbacks...somewhere...and it won't affect us in a very profound way. You cannot cut billions and billions of dollars out of a budget and keep everyone at their same level of income/existence/whatever.

We all know that, as high as they are now, taxes are going to have to go up. So we might as well get used to the idea now. Some states (my own Florida and Texas too) have no state income tax. That's probably gonna change. How'd you like to be the unpopular governor that proposes THAT?!)

What this means is that in a very real sense, our standard of living is going to go down. Gee, maybe Americans will have to do without one of the two or three family cars...or some of the other "necessities" we seem to not be able to live without. I would love an iPhone and an iPad2 but you know what? Even though I have the money, I can't justify either of them right now.

For too long, Americans have acted as if the money will never run out. We've come to expect all of these services the government provides as if they are a right or entitlement. We've had it very good for a very long time. I suspect that as a nation (physically) and as a culture (psychologically) we are in for some BIG, difficult, perhaps painful changes over the next decade.

Just don't cut *my* money!

This whole finger-pointing, accusatory atmosphere in Washington is as silly and immature as it is tiring, and alienating of the voter. Our current economic mess is not a "democratic" or "republican" thing. Whether Obama or McCain had won, we'd STILL be in just about the same place today. World economic events have overwhelmed the office of the Presidency to control them. Impatient Americans, eager for instant results will turn Obama into a one-term president- as McCain would also have been. I'm sure all of the current contenders to the throne are looking warily at the job, going, "Uhhh, I'm not really sure that even I could do any better." Privately, of course. No one would ever admit that publically. Because as we all know, anyyone and his brother could do a better job than Obama.

All's I know is, I'm glad I don't have to decide what cuts to make.

Finally, you're right about Trump. He's a joke. He would find out...very quickly that "getting things done" or making changes to the way things operate in Washington D.C. is not as easy or simple as we might like to think. Those bureaucrats have had a couple of hundred years to set stuff in stone.

Bob said...

Thanks, Bob. Wasn't sure what your parenthetical comment meant, the I saw the date of the post. I actually started it on April 9, but couldn't get my thoughts together so saved it and finished it yesterday.

After seeing your first sentence, I noticed the date. I had never before noticed that blogger, under "post options," allows you to change the date. So I've corrected it now.

Live and learn . . .

Hal Johnson said...

"Notice that in neither of these statements does anyone say anything derogatory about the other's political party. Too good to be true?"

Nah. I think Barry Goldwater and Hubert Humphrey were evidence of that. They'd savage each other during debates, but they were close personal friends, and after the show on the Senate floor, they would meet in chambers and work toward an agreement they could both live with.

You wouldn't hear them demonize each other, but they weren't above poking fun at each other. About a year before he died, Goldwater said about Humphrey: "Hubert talks so fast that trying to understand what he's saying is like reading a Playboy while your wife turns the pages."

I love that one.

Pencil Writer said...

Is that when I say . . . "IF only . . ."

Pencil Writer said...

That comment was to you, Bob, not Hal! Oh, my. I should read everyone's comments before I comment, I think!