“Do what I say (pass my budget), not what I do (ignore your budget).”

Barack Obama - Caricature

President Barack Obama, Adult-in-Chief. Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Our federal government is on the verge of shutting down. And President Obama wants Congressional Republicans to do what he says (pass his budget), not what he does (ignore their budget).

The United States government doesn’t have a budget for fiscal year 2011, yet. If it doesn’t pass one by Friday, the government will shut down. This means, as others have pointed out, that we may see something like what happened in 1995 and 1996:

[I]t actually cost the government money in back wages, lost revenue from shut-down national parks and the local economies and businesses surrounding those parks. Not all government workers go on a mandatory vacation, either. Essential staff still stay on duty – FBI and TSA workers, VA hospitals and military bases stay open, as would the US Postal Service, the prez and his employees and all members of Congress.

So, naturally,with a shutdown threatening due to Congress’ and the President’s inability to work out a compromise, what do our elected leaders do? Get down to the thumb tacks, pound out a compromise that moves our country on the path to get out of debt, and works to lighten the load on Americans?

Nope. They trade insults.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on congressional leaders – especially Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) – to act like “grown-ups” and avert a government shutdown after they made no apparent progress in reaching a budget agreement at a White House meeting earlier in the day.

In response, Congressional Republicans said that they were going to take their toys and go home…

Oh, wait. No they didn’t. Rather, they released a plan to cut $6.2 trillion out of the budget over the next four years, including reducing the deficit by $4.4 trillion, a number three times the Administration’s (and, consequently, the amount that the Administration has added to the bottom line over the last few years).

Naturally, with Rep.Paul Ryan wonkishly talking policy and throwing around statistics, numbers, and budgets that save money, maintain retirement benefits, decrease our federal deficit, and, well, make sense, an insult was the best the President could come up with on the spur of the moment. After all, the upstart Congressman from Wisconsin is making him look bad.

Ironically, Rep. Ryan’s plan isn’t even considered to be that great. It’s just better than the President’s.

Politics is the realm of the possible, blah blah. Only in a government situation where we’re facing a shutdown on Friday and a debt limit squeeze around the same time – after a decade of completely bipartisan raids on fiscal sanity – can Ryan’s plan be considered the realistic plan.

It’s just better than the alternative.

From there, and by “there” I mean “a plan that cuts the deficit and salvages the future for our children,” the President decided to pull out the big guns: he accused the Republicans of partisanship because they want to include in the budget cuts cutting off funding for a few of the Golden Calves of the political left (Planned Parenthood, EPA, etc).

We can debate abortion and environmental regulation later. Right now, if we don’t get our fiscal house in order, it may not matter whether Planned Parenthood and the EPA keep federal handouts or funding, because entitlements are going to take over the budget completely.

MEANWHILE, in other news, the adults are busy coordinating President Obama’s reelection campaign…

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4 responses to ““Do what I say (pass my budget), not what I do (ignore your budget).”

  1. First, I’m surprised you threw in that bit about “golden calves”. I know you know that the costs of those programs are a drop in the bucket.

    If they aren’t addressing DOD, and entitlement programs, they simply are not addressing the true problem, and it frustrates me that so many Americans still don’t get this.

    You know who’s really to blame? All of us Americans who continue to demand our politicians take action, but are not willing to empower them to actually do so. Most Americans continue to reject changes to defense, social security and other entitlement programs, and that includes Republicans, Democrats and Tea Partiers.

    I applaud the Tea Party for keeping the pressure on, but I deplore them for being as stupid as the rest of us by talking about cuts that add up to nothing, (like planned parenthood, public broadcasting, foriegn aid, etc…). Fix the real problem, and save the ideological debates for next year!

    • Golden Calves is a term that means these items are just too sacred to be sacraficed in the budget. They ARE a drop in the bucket–but what makes them secure relative to everything else? Why save them instead of another program? The point is that Democrats are holding up a budget because of these “drops in a bucket.”

      And you are correct: DOD and entitlements are where the real costs are. I think if you’ll look closer over the last free weeks, those are the programs that I’ve indicated are the most expensive and need reform if we are to bring order to our fiscal house.

      Defense, in contrast to entitlements, has not grown and does not show signs of growing in coming years in the way that entitlements do. As a result, it’s a relatively more benign. It’s also a lot easier to control (end a war or two, and we’d see a significant drop in spending there).

      Last, I’d point out that I do agree with you: much of the Tea Party has missed the point, and even Ryan’s plan is only relatively attractive. I recommend the Reason article linked at the end to see an example of some of the critiques of his plan. Real reform will require more that what Ryan is proposing; however, relatively speaking, or compared to President Obama’s budget, which makes no effort to cut or entitlement reform, it is a step in the right direction.

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