Who is applauding a likely shutdown? That is the enticing headline on piece by the Washington Post’s ubiquitous lefty blogger Ezra Klein. And, yep, as soon as I told you the item was by EK, you guessed the answer: the evil Republicans. Klein noted:
It increasingly feels like the House GOP doesn’t want to take “yes” for an answer. Talks to avert a government shutdown at the end of the week appear to be breaking down. [Speaker of the House] John Boehner has increased his demands from $33 billion to $40 billion — and that’s to say nothing of the fate of the various amendments relating to Planned Parenthood, the EPA, the health-care law and much else. When he told his members that a shutdown was likely, he was met with applause.
I am incredulous that the GOP caucus applauded. Perhaps they were applauding not a shutdown but that Boehner isn’t caving. There is also an alternative way of expressing Boehner’s “demand:” the Speaker has come down $20 billion from the Republican figure of $66 billion in cuts. But this makes the Speaker appear too flexible to justify the secondary headline: “Never give up! Never Surrender!”
I don’t want a government shutdown. But I do know that budget cutters have to be effective or the country is going to continue to rack up debt we can’t afford. Klein also thinks that Rep. Paul Ryan-whose Path to Prosperity plan calls for more drastic cuts-is “looking for a confrontation, not a compromise.” Klein and like-minded people can’t seem to get through their noggins that the country is on a precipice and only major cuts will save us.
We must “reform or go broke” as the headline on a column by Senator Tom Coburn puts it. As an antidote to the Ezra Kleins of the world who see the current budget debate as mere jockeying for political status, here is some of what Coburn says:
The Government Accountability Office has estimated the federal 75-year fiscal gap — the difference between anticipated tax receipts and government spending — is a staggering $76.4 trillion, or more than five times our current national debt. Entitlement spending alone accounts for more than 80 percent of that debt.
Broad health-entitlement reform is a necessity, not a choice. As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress earlier this year, at some point the rest of the world will simply stop loaning us money if our debt continues to skyrocket. When that happens, our safety net — and our economy — could collapse. The time to make these choices is now.
Democrats are positioned as protectors of these safety net programs. But they aren’t. If we don’t face reality, the safety net programs go down with the ship of state. Now, about Speaker Boehner’s exorbitant demands…
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Congress needs to “move the debate from billions in spending cuts to trillions” when he unveiled his budget this week. He’s right. The American people clearly support reducing spending. Our next task is to convince them why sweeping reforms and larger savings are needed.