Do you believe Rep. Paul Ryan when he says we only have a few years left to get our fiscal house in order, or we’re going to face European-type austerity? How about the co-chairmen of the bipartisan deficit commission, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who have essentially issued the same warning?
Have you taken a hard look at President Obama’s 10-year budget with a view to whether it would marginally address the crisis? Are you aware of the gargantuan deficits it projects — averaging some $1 trillion per year — and that this is before considering the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring that revealed that its projected cumulative deficits were understated by a staggering $2.3 trillion?
Did you know that entitlements — mainly Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — are the primary drivers of these deficits but that Obama has yet to come to the table with a genuine entitlement reform proposal? Or that congressional Democrats, for the first time since 1974, did not pass a budget and all of the current wrangling over continuing resolutions and government shutdowns is a direct result of their dereliction?
Can you explain why President Obama, touted as the finest orator in the modern era, didn’t exercise leadership over his Democratic lieutenants in Congress to quit playing fiscal Russian roulette? Or why those Democrats proposed just $6 billion in further budget cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year — and then, only under GOP pressure — when the budget is $3.8 trillion? Or why they are characterizing the GOP’s proposal of $61 billion in cuts (1.6 percent of the budget) as “Draconian”?
You surely know that President Obama has ceaselessly dodged his fiscal responsibilities by blaming his budgets on the $1.3 trillion deficit he “inherited.” But how about that he was instrumental in ensuring the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which contributed heavily to that then-extraordinary deficit number, and that even so, the actual number is substantially lower when you factor in the TARP repayments?
Regardless, don’t you think it’s fair that we hold him accountable for what he’s done since he assumed office? Or should we just let him run against President Bush’s record again in 2012, blithely pretending he’s been an impotent bystander for four years?
Consider Obama’s audacity in scapegoating Bush for deficits that he was instrumental in creating and then proposing, as a solution, an $800 billion pork-laden stimulus bill and trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.
You’ll remember his boastful promises that if we would just indulge his “stimulus” idea, he would jump-start the economy and ensure that unemployment would not exceed 8 percent. Despite getting his way, he has managed to achieve the worst of both worlds: He’ll double the national debt in five years and triple it in 10, yet unemployment is just now — after two years of hovering between 9 and 10 percent — dipping below 9 percent.
So Obama came into office during very difficult economic times and, instead of implementing policies to truly stimulate economic growth, further smothered the private sector by ratcheting up government spending and onerous regulations, and he has deliberately compounded our national deficits and debt at a time when we are on the brink of a financial catastrophe. Though his own bipartisan deficit commission told him entitlement reform is imperative, he continues to kick the ball farther down the road without so much as an overture toward a nod of a pretense of a good faith effort to tackle it.
This very week, he and his Democratic colleagues are lying in wait for congressional Republicans to refuse to approve the Democrats’ reckless budget for the remainder of the year so they can blame the mean GOP for another government shutdown. They’ll pretend they have no role in such a shutdown and hope this fraudulent narrative turns the political tide in their favor — all while the fiscal crisis remains unattended. They’ll doubtlessly employ a similar strategy to ambush Republicans as heartless scrooges when Rep. Ryan unveils his long-term budget and proposes real economic growth and authentic entitlement reform.
When you take politics out of the equation, there is a consensus that we are on a collision course with national financial disaster. When you put politics back into the equation, only one party is trying to do something about it.
But here’s the rub. Some Republican congressmen are horrified that if they stick to their guns in the upcoming budget battles, they’ll lose the PR war, just as Republicans supposedly did in 1995-96. For reasons I’ll address next time, 2011 is not 1995 (we have a nation-threatening emergency, folks), and Republicans must remain strong. Honor your mandate, ladies and gentlemen. We’ve got your back.