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In reference to cutting government spending, President Obama likes to say we should use a "scalpel" instead of a "machete".
Obama couldn't be more wrong. We should be using a howitzer instead of a machete on government spending. Using a scalpel just ain't gonna git her done, because we're on an unsustainable fiscal path straight to economic hell.
Unfortunately, we have two political parties of big spenders. We just witnessed the complete failure of 12 members of those big spending parties (the Not-So-Super Committee) to agree on $1.2 trillion in future cuts to future spending increases. The game those two parties played was, they both made offers they knew the other side would reject, then after the Super Committee failed, they both hoped to gain politically by blaming the other side. This is how our leading politicians act when the future of America is on the line. They look after themselves and their party instead of the people. If the two parties, can't even agree on something so minor, what hope is there they will ever implement the changes necessary to put this country back on a sustainable fiscal path ?
It seems the worst thing that can happen in Washington D.C. is for one party to gain complete power.
When Obama and the Democrats gained complete control in 2009-2010, they rammed through unprecedented spending increases and created the largest new entitlement program (ObamaCare) since the creation of Medicare in 1965. They did this with the full knowledge that our current entitlement programs were unsustainable. They did this despite warnings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that ObamaCare would bend the health care cost curve up instead of down. They did this despite the fact that Medicare was already our largest unsustainable entitlement liability going forward, the single biggest future government expense. ObamaCare will add trillions in new spending, and add tens of millions of people to the Medicaid rolls when the states are already struggling to pay for existing Medicaid spending. The Democrats did this when the country was in a major recession with unemployment at 9%. The Democrats made our unsustainable entitlement picture even more unsustainable, and they did it against the will of the American public. The Democrats also made trillion dollar plus deficits routine, and Obama has run up debt faster than any other American president in history. We just passed the $15 trillion debt mark, with no signs of the red ink slowing. Democrat control was a complete and utter failure.
Prior to Obama, we had President Bush and the Republicans in complete control from 2001-2006. What were the results when the so-called "conservative" party was in power ? Massive spending increases, an unnecessary war, and...a new entitlement program (Medicare Part D, the Prescription Drug program) !!! Defense and social spending both rose rapidly under Bush, and Bush accumulated $5 trillion in debt over eight years. Federal spending skyrocketed during the Bush years. If this is what we're calling "conservative" these days, no thank you. Real inflation-adjusted military spending is twice what it was a decade ago, yet the "conservative" Republicans are resisting major defense cuts, as are the Pentagon and the Obama administration. The leading Republican presidential contenders are all acting like hawks, and so is the Obama administration.
It's time for a major reality check for both political parties. While they play their partisan reindeer games, America is going down the tubes. We literally can't afford all this government spending any longer. We can't tax our way out of the problem, and we sure as hell can't "tax the rich" to pay for it all, which is the canard the Democrats keep pimping. Reversing the Bush tax cuts for the rich would add maybe $75 billion in new revenue over the next year. How does that address our $1.2 trillion deficit ? It doesn't. The Democrats are talking economic gobbledygook, and even though the American people agree with increasing taxes on the wealthy, it doesn't get us anywhere near to solving our economic sustainability problem. Not to mention that increasing taxes during this Great Recession would be galactically stupid and take even more money out of the hands of struggling American taxpayers and job creators. Lots of those "rich" people are business owners. The Democrats need to be reminded that those are the people who employ workers. Putting more expenses on their backs will only make matters worse. We're losing enough jobs as it is already.
It's time to refocus our Defense budget on what it is supposed to be for, DEFENSE...of America, not the defense of every country around the world. We can't afford to be the world's policeman any longer. This should be pretty obvious when the federal government is borrowing 43 cents of every dollar it spends. We can't justify spending $900 billion on the military when our Social Security and Medicare programs aren't funded. What does that say about our priorities ? The Republicans need to get off the neocon bandwagon already and admit this. It's indefensible, no pun intended.
The only way to get spending in line is to address the main drivers of current and future spending, and those are - Defense, Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, and interest payments. Here is a pie chart of the 2012 federal budget:
From the above chart, we see that defense, entitlements (health care/pensions/welfare), and interest consume a whopping 88% of the federal budget. Even if Rick Perry could remember all three of the federal departments he wants to close, that 88% in spending would still remain, and nothing would change. Interest payments may seem relatively small at 6%, but they are growing so fast due to our massive deficits/debt that if we don't get our budget under control, the CBO estimates interest payments will soar to $800 billion per year by 2020. That is a tremendous amount of taxpayer money to flush down the toilet, money that could be used for other things, such as Social Security, Medicare, etc. Our unrestrained debt is stealing the future away. Obama and Congress are doing a great job, but only if the goal IS to destroy the country. Otherwise, we need some major changes, and we need them very soon. It's a shame that all we seem to get is the same old partisan rhetoric leading to nowhere, the same old false choices, the same old entrenched interests, the same old choices of Democrat poison or Republican poison. I'd say we deserve better than that, but I'm not sure we do.
Some day people may realize that the libertarian impulses were right, but I fear it will be too late by then. Many people seem to believe the ideas of limiting government and maximizing liberty are too radical, which actually makes me laugh (instead of cry) considering how extremely radical our current fiscal picture has become. How can things get more radical than pursuing policies of national economic suicide ??? It boggles my mind, as does the massive entitlement mentality that has taken over much of this country. We've become warring special interests instead of a united people. That is something else that has to change before we can hope to address our problems. I'm not optimistic.
Good luck, America. You're going to need it.