Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Budget woes

Budget issues dominated the news in Washington today, and none of the approaches make any sense to me.

During his State of the Union address tomorrow evening, President Obama will apparently announce a three-year spending freeze for all non-defense discretionary spending. Of course, it's the other stuff -- Social Security, Medicare and defense -- that make up the lion's share (83%) of the budget and it's those items that need to be brought under control. The freeze will limit some important spending, yet will hardly save anything.

At this time I want to point out that reforming health care -- appropriately, rather than the politicized packages approved by the House and Senate that now lie D.O.A. -- would have gone a long way toward controlling those costs, but the "fiscally responsible" conservatives and their irrational "tea party" mobs killed any chance of that.

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Budget Committee introduced a bill -- voted down by the full Senate today -- that would have formed a bipartisan "Fiscal Task Force" of House, Senate and Administration members who would propose solutions on reducing the deficit. I think this approach is folly because we already have a small group of people charged with solving such issues: it's called Congress. And they have already appointed smaller groups of people who theoretically possess more expertise on such matters and whose duty it is to present recommendations to the full House and Senate: the Budget, Finance and Appropriations committees. And further, the solutions to rising deficits is rather simple: control spending on entitlement programs by PASSING HEALTH CARE REFORM and, quite simply, RAISE TAXES.

But alas, Scott Brown -- the Bay State's political boy wonder -- is already doing his best to make the nation's fiscal condition less healthy, while lining the pockets of the wealthy. He's advocating tax cuts. Yes, Scottie, let's do what Republicans always do, whether the economy is charging ahead or slumping badly: give even more to the haves. It didn't take long for his true colors to show. Is Brownie aware that the Bush tax cuts are a major part (along with spending on the Iraq War) of the nation's deficit woes? How many Americans are aware that those tax cuts cost twice as much as the health care proposals that have been deemed "too costly" by the right? (And about half of that money -- a trillion dollars -- went to the wealthiest Americans.)

Until we have people with brains and guts in Washington, we will continue to see policies that follow the path of least resistance, leading the United States toward decline and fall.

1 comment:

dylan said...

Do you think that the 16 years of Republican governance here in Massachusetts were an economically calamitous period? Granted, there are a few differences between the state economy and the federal economy (there is no war spending on the state level; plus, the Commonwealth is required to balance its budget). But your point was about tax cuts, and I think that more often than not, they provide a salutary economic stimulus.