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We're over six months into FY2011 (the government's fiscal year runs from October 1-September 30), and Congress has still not passed a budget for FY2011. There will be a government shutdown at midnight unless Congress can pass a budget or another temporary continuing resolution (CR) today.
First, I must say...Heckuva job, Congress. Thanks for NOT doing the job we elected you to do. Thanks for proving to me once again how well-founded is my skepticism of the government, as if the $14 trillion federal debt and the $1.6 trillion deficit wasn't proof enough already. If I find any solace from a government shutdown, it will come from the fact that members of Congress won't get their paychecks (at least I hope they won't).
The last action I heard about was the CR that passed the GOP-led House yesterday. It contained $12 billion in spending cuts, would fund the Department Of Defense for the rest of the year, and fund the rest of the government for another week. President Obama said he would veto it if it reached his desk. Democrats voted against it, saying they wanted the one-week CR to maintain spending at current levels. So much for all the Democrat calls for compromise I heard on the airwaves yesterday, but even if the CR did pass, the budget issue would not be resolved. The standoff continues.
If you want to know how things deteriorated to this level, I can answer that in one word - politics (which is another reason I distrust the government). Our politicians care more about their parties than they do our country. This goes for both parties, but I have particular animus toward the Democrats in this regard. Remember, the Dems had total control of Congress and the Presidency until January. They could have done their job and passed the FY2011 budget any time they wanted to, but they didn't. Why not ? Because they knew if they passed the big spending budget they wanted to pass, it would lessen their chances in last fall's elections. As Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) said on Fox News last night, the Dems didn't pass a budget because it was "a political hot potato". In other words, the Democrats put the well-being of their party above the well-being of the country. But their self-serving political stunt didn't work. Republicans made big gains in Congress and took control of the House. Now, Congress is locked in an ideological battle of wills. The Dems could have easily avoided the current shutdown scenario, which makes me wonder if what's going on now wasn't the Democrats backup plan all along. Democrats knew spending had to be cut, but they want the Republicans to take the heat for it, because particular spending cuts, especially to domestic programs, aren't popular, even when they are necessary.
On the core issue of spending cuts, I agree with the Republicans a lot more than I do the Democrats. Obama's ten-year budget proposal that increased federal spending by $9 trillion, increased taxes by $2 trillion (it reversed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, among other tax increases), and increased the federal debt by $13 trillion over the next decade was an epic failure of leadership, a complete joke. Obama looked at the biggest long-term problem we face as a country, and then he punted the ball. He abdicated all responsibility. I can't begin to take him seriously since then. I no longer care what he has to say on economic matters. I just want him out. I will vote for a ham sandwich over Obama for President in 2012. He's not a leader. He's a coward, or worse (you can fill in your own Obama motivation here).
Spending must be cut. That is undeniable. Anyone with a shred of honesty has to admit that much. We are living in a fictitious economy fueled by debt. The federal government is borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar it spends. It is beyond obvious that it isn't sustainable. We're on a high-speed rail to financial destruction, yet we can't get Congress to agree on $61 billion in spending cuts, which represents less than a 2% cut from a $3.8 trillion federal budget. Hard to believe.
That being said, I do have some problems with the GOP's cuts. They all focus on domestic spending, which certainly must be cut, but of the GOP proposals I've seen, NONE of them cut the Defense budget. This is outrageous. While I certainly support funding the troops in the field, as we must do, there is much to be cut in the area of Defense. We have nearly 500 military bases in about 100 countries around the world. There's no reason for this. WWII is long over. The Cold War is over. It's time for us to stop being the policeman of the world. We can't afford it any longer. When Republicans cite the Constitution as it's justification for the federal government to "provide for the common defense", they are correct. However, the framers meant that the federal government should defend THIS country, not South Korea, Japan, Europe, etc., etc. Our first President, George Washington, warned against "foreign entanglements". Later, President Eisenhower warned against the "military industrial complex". Today's Republicans and Democrats should take note of our fiscal situation and make some major Defense adjustments. I'm all for defending this country, and when we were attacked on 9/11 it was appropriate for us to go after the terrorists and their state-sponsored supporters in Afghanistan, but enough is enough. The Deparment Of Defense needs to be cut like everything else. It will take an all hands approach to correct the course of our ship of state.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the GOP's budget policy riders are interfering with a budgetary agreement between the two parties. Reid said Republicans were “focusing on ideological matters that have nothing to do with funding the government". Said policy riders include defunding ObamaCare, defunding Planned Parenthood, and weakening the EPA's ability to regulate carbon emissions. I don't know what world Reid lives in, but in my world, DEFUNDING ObamaCare and Planned Parenthood have everything to do with funding the government. Ideology is certainly involved, just as ideology was involved with funding these programs in the first place, but, I repeat, WE ARE $14 TRILLION IN DEBT AND HAVE A $1.6 TRILLION DEFICIT. Everything should be on the table. We have to reinvent our idea of what government can and should do for us. If we don't, we face a certain finanial meltdown. Thems the facts.
In closing, I hear Democrats and liberals across the land moaning and crying over the Republican spending cuts, such as Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to cut $6 trillion in spending over a decade (which actually doesn't go far enough fast enough), but I ask you this...has anyone heard a plan from the Democrats in Congress or the Executive branch to fix our debt/deficit problem ??? Anyone ??? I haven't, and the last I heard, Democrats were also supposed to be our governmental leaders. Rather than leading, it seems they've chosen to bury their heads in the sand and throw dirt at Republicans to gain a partisan advantage. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to admire such behavior, which is why I don't. Put up or shut up, Democrats. I've heard enough of what the Democrats are against. They should man up and present their own plan to right our fiscal ship, before we collectively sink into the sea. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.
As for anyone's particular political beliefs, they should be secondary right now. Everyone is going to have to accept some spending cut they don't like. Yes, it would be fan-frigging-tastic if we could give every citizen in the country everything their little heart desires for free, but that ain't realistic. In fact, that gimme attitude is a large part of the problem.