But the core challenge of this time is not the cost of discretionary spending. Obama knows this; everyone knows this. The crisis is the cost of future entitlements and defense, about which Obama proposes nothing. Yes, there's some blather. But Obama will not risk in any way any vulnerability on taxes to his right or entitlement spending to his left. He convened a deficit commission in order to throw it in the trash. If I were Alan Simpson or Erskine Bowles, I'd feel duped. And they were duped. All of us who took Obama's pitch as fiscally responsible were duped.Bruce Bartlett:
To all those under 30 who worked so hard to get this man elected, know this: he just screwed you over. He thinks you're fools. Either the US will go into default because of Obama's cowardice, or you will be paying far far more for far far less because this president has no courage when it counts. He let you down. On the critical issue of America's fiscal crisis, he represents no hope and no change. Just the same old Washington politics he once promised to end.
The point is not that there are no government programs worthy of cutting, but rather that this is a really stupid way to do it. The vast bulk of government spending, which goes to mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare, is completely exempted. And Republicans have effectively exempted the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs from cuts. This leaves only 16 percent of the budget from which they will extract their pound of flesh to satisfy voters who demand huge budget cuts but also oppose cutting just about any program except foreign aid.Ezra Klein:
Well, the business of the American government is insurance. Literally. If you look at how the federal government spends our money, it’s an insurance conglomerate protected by a large, standing army.It is becoming increasingly clear that Republicans, Democrats, and the Tea Party have very little desire to cut government spending. The areas that they want to cut are insignificant and such cuts would be harmful to the productivity of the government. The areas they don't want to cut are significant and growing.
But you wouldn’t know it to listen to the debate over the budget. When House Republicans talk about cutting spending and the Obama administration talks about freezing spending, neither group is talking about the vast expanse of the government’s commitments. They’re looking at a small corner of the budget, the 12.3 percent known as non-defense discretionary spending. The stuff that’s not Medicare, not Medicaid, not Social Security or the military. It’s the odds-and-ends, so to speak.
Cutting government spending is a grim and unpopular business, at least when you get specific about it. A Pew poll released last week asked Americans whether they’d like to increase or decrease spending in 13 areas. In all but two, Americans wanted to see spending go up, not down. And those two -- unemployment insurance and foreign aid -- are mere rounding errors in the budget. It’s like dieting by swearing off canapes: It’s something, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy smaller pants.
I am beginning to think perhaps the Republican Party should take a look at Mitch Daniels.
Cross posted at The Cross Culturalist.