December 11 2013
Wishing for a Better Budget Deal
Carrie L. Lukas
When it comes to budget fights, Republicans are in a no win situation. If they try to push for spending reductions, they are labelled heartless and accused of gutting programs that—regardless of where the money actually goes—are the sole source of food for poor children and grandmothers. When they hang tough and refuse to green-light the Democrats' desired big government spending plans, they risk having the government shut down and the media painting them as fanatics willing to tank the economy over a few measly pennies. Republicans are only a majority in the House, and have limited pull when it comes to negotiating a deal.
I get it. I also get that Republicans are recently burned from the budget battle this fall and want the public’s attention to stay fixed on the ongoing disaster that is ObamaCare implementation. After all, souring the public on the idea that government should be in control of huge segments of the economy is far more valuable than a temporary win on spending reductions.
Yet it’s hard not to be disappointed by emerging details of the budget deal negotiated by Rep. Ryan, which looks like it gave up about half of the spending reductions that were in place due to Sequestration. The deal goes through 2015, which is nice, I suppose, in preventing greater spending increases and maintaining at least some reductions for a longer period of time. Perhaps this is the best that fiscal conservatives could hope for.
Those political reality aside, it is beyond frustrating that our government’s finances remain so out-of-touch with reality. The media, exemplified by this Washington Post article, covers this as a very mature reasonable compromise that we should all applaud and only insane ideologues will oppose. Missing from this rather pious piece hinting at the wonders of bipartisanship is any actual look at the numbers.
How reasonable and responsible is it to reach an agreement to continue to spending hundreds of billions of dollars more than we take in as revenue? Why does the media never mention that these very sober adults are agreeing to pile even more debt on our nation’s children who will already be holding the bag to pay for trillions that we’ve accrued on their behalf? Just when will these very reasonable bipartisan leaders actually do the really hard job of identifying programs that should be eliminated so that we start toward a path of truly sustainable spending?
I don’t blame the negotiators for the deal that’s been reached or leaders who think that strategically this is the best conservatives can do. But I do wish that we had a more grown up political dialogue—one that actually discussed the problems with runaway government debt—for making much needed spending reductions nearly impossible to advance.