One of my favorite movies is Dave. It is a movie where an average citizen (Dave) impersonates the President of the United States for a living, and is thrown into the real job due to some really shady political operatives. (Quick aside – Kevin Kline is awesome in that role!) There’s a scene in that movie in which Dave enlists his accountant friend Murray to cut the federal budget so that the homeless shelter wouldn’t have to close. Murray looks at the budget and says something to the effect of if private citizens handled their books like this, they would be in jail. Yeah. One of the items in that budget was an advertising campaign to bolster confidence in the American auto industry. Dave asks the Congresscritter (I forget the name of the guy) to explain this. He explains that this was designed to boost Americans’ confidence in a previous auto purchase. So an ad campaign to make American feel better about cars they have already bought. Mmhmm.
What I’m getting at here is there are many unnecessary expenditures in our budget even before we get to domestic spending. If America is broke — and if we are not there yet, we are close — then why are we spending so much money on foreign aid? Why are we validating the UN by providing a significant portion of its financing to its collection of Third-World despots, dictators, and countries who would seriously consider wiping US off the map along with Israel? As for Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t pretend that an already-planned troop reduction should count toward a spending cut since this will happen regardless of which plan ends up passing in Congress. So let’s not insist that all these things (some more important than others) are off the table when we have to make so many cuts to domestic spending to balance this budget.
And yes, it’s true – neither side is serious about making the cuts we need to make to get our fiscal house in order. But at least the House Republicans are providing some level of opposition to the bipartisan failure that is the Boehner plan. From the way Speaker Boehner explained his plan on every single talk radio station, it’s clear to me that proposed spending cuts don’t have any weight to them, and that’s the kind of cuts in this plan. Also, those spending cuts are spread out over 10 years, which means that they won’t offset the rise in the debt ceiling that would happen in this agreement. I’m not advocating irresponsibility. Still, I find it difficult to trust Congress and the president when they insist that certain doom will befall America if we don’t raise the debt ceiling. There will be no incentive to make those necessary cuts when the government knows that they have a limitless checkbook. For these, and many other reasons, I would encourage Congress and especially the Republicans to keep trying. We aren’t there yet.
For more, read Reason’s excellent article here.