Time for GOP To Implement Full-Frontal Budget Assault

May 26, 2011

My advice for the GOP: No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more putting the pretense of civility above the best interests of the nation. Democrats are playing cynical games with our national debt crisis, and it’s time they were called out on them — directly, volubly and repeatedly. Senate Democrats haven’t passed their own budget plan in more than two years, despite having strong control of that body. Meanwhile, the nation is teetering on bankruptcy.

I don’t make that statement lightly. Our national debt is $14.3 trillion, and our federal deficit is $1.65 trillion. This might be less shocking but for the facts that our projected annual deficits as long as Obama is in charge average $1 trillion, and our unfunded entitlements exceed $88 trillion.

Just yesterday I read two shocking articles comparing the debt picture of the United States to that of Greece. The mere thought that our situations are remotely comparable should send us into anxiety attacks.

In one of those articles, Michael Tanner, in National Review Online, asks, “Which country is in worse fiscal condition — Greece or the United States?” Brace yourselves. This year, says Tanner, Greece’s budget deficit will be 9.5 percent of its gross domestic product. (Last year, it was 15 percent.) Its national debt will exceed 150 percent of GDP by year’s end. When you factor in its future unfunded pension liabilities, its debt exceeds 875 percent of GDP, meaning that the debt is almost nine times greater than the value of the nation’s total annual economic production. Wow.

Surely the United States doesn’t even approach such frightening levels. After all, aren’t these allusions to Greece just the stuff of fear-mongers like that outrageous meanie Paul Ryan? Well, let’s take a look.

This year, our deficit is estimated to be 10.8 percent of GDP — 1.3 percent higher than that of Greece. Our national debt, as mentioned above, is $14.3 trillion, which is not quite 100 percent of our GDP — just 98 percent. So in this category, Greece “beats” us, though by 2020, we are scheduled to reach those Greek levels. More significantly, when you include our unfunded entitlement liabilities, which exceed 900 percent of our GDP, we put Greece to shame again. Hurray!

Greece does edge us out on annual spending relative to GDP. It spends more than half its GDP, while our combined federal, state and local spending runs between 35 and 40 percent of GDP. Before you get depressed that Greece beats us in this category, be aware that once our entitlement programs “really kick in,” federal spending will soar to more than 43 percent of GDP. When you add state and local spending, we’ll be approaching 60 percent of GDP, again dwarfing the debt-pretender Greece. And wait until the new Obamacare entitlement is fully operative.

Don’t let your eyes glaze over these numbers. Just understand that we are in staggeringly desperate financial straits, which will inevitably bankrupt us if we don’t implement reform — and soon. Our funded liabilities are growing by more than $10 trillion a year.

But Democrats are steadfastly refusing to tackle the problem. While physical and fiscal tornadoes create their wide path of destruction, President Obama, Harry Reid and the rest of the Democratic leadership have decided to attack Paul Ryan and the GOP with fear tactics and lies, offering nothing credible of their own to address either the short-term problems or the long-term ones.

While the Democrats’ main line of attack is the fraudulent claim that Ryan is destroying Medicare, their own ideas actually do directly assault Medicare, which will only be “saved” by rationing. But the truth is that Medicare simply cannot be salvaged in any meaningful form without major restructuring such as Ryan has proposed.

Democrats are smugly savoring what they claim as a victory in NY-26, because they employed their demagogic attacks on Medicare in that race. Senate Democrats, instead of offering their own plan, tried to put Republicans on the defensive by forcing a vote on the Ryan budget, which went down to a 57-40 defeat. When Republicans tried to flush Senate Dems out to vote on Obama’s plan, a procedural vote to move forward on it failed 97-0, while Obama sipped wine in Europe. These people aren’t serious. The only semblance of a plan they’ve forwarded involves tax increases and rationing by a board of robotic, heartless bureaucrats. Tanner, like so many sensible others, reminds us that we can’t tax ourselves out of this problem. Greece tried it.

Republicans will make a mistake if they continue to be in counterattack mode, waiting for the latest Democratic broadside to respond. They should be on the airwaves every morning and every night presenting the nightmarish facts and their proposal to end the nightmare and exposing the Democrats for the reckless rogues they are. Time’s running out.