Fiddling while America burns
Count me as a conservative pleased at the results of the recent election, but fully expecting to be disappointed by my own Republican Party.
How many struggles between Republicans and Democrats will be over foundation issues that really matter? Who will take up the cause of regaining control over a bloated and arrogant federal government that uses the fig leaf of the Commerce Clause to justify reaching into every crevice of our lives? Who will champion returning the federal government to the constraints of its enumerated powers in the constitution? Probably nobody.
Will anyone in Congress acknowledge they operate like hogs at a bottomless trough, that deficit spending should be unlawful with rare exceptions and that their deal-making and infighting should be on priorities and allocation of only the money we have and no more? I seriously doubt it.
While battling to repeal parts of Obamacare, will anyone try to repeal Medicare part D, the prescription drug program brought to life by President Bush, funded with money we do not have? Of course not; an existing entitlement lives forever.
For decades Congress has raided the Social Security surplus to feed their current spending habits and refused to upset voters by confronting the fiscal train wreck approaching the system, a disaster made worse by their theft. What are the chances Congress will suddenly develop the courage and responsibility to leave the surplus untouched and make the hard decisions required to keep Social Security viable? Somewhere between slim and none.
What about the current Congressional dustup over the egregious practice of earmarks? While some wrap themselves in the virtue of temporarily suspending the practice of carving out pork for a member’s pet projects, others argue the dollars involved are negligible compared to non-discretionary spending.
I think both sides miss the point. Congress needs to radically change its culture of trading favors and siphoning off money in ways that are excused because the dollars are small compared to the huge amounts passing through their fingers. When will they consider every dollar of our money precious, as we do? Let me know when hell freezes over.
Democrats and Republicans will squabble over Harry Reid’s Dream Act, a bill to provide in-state college tuition discounts to illegal aliens who either attend college or serve in our military. Meanwhile, do you think the U.S. will deport the 10 million or more illegals living in the U.S.? Do you think our border with Mexico will be secured? Do you think we will stop spending billions to supply health and education and other services to illegals? Do you believe either party will stop pandering to the Hispanic vote? Neither do I.
The whole world, it seems, has its hand out for American generosity. I wonder who will fight to end the annual gifts of billions in foreign aid, often to people who hate us. Who will dare to speak the truth that natural disasters are a part of life, and when they strike throughout the world, our presidents need to stop pledging American taxpayer money because we are broke? In my dreams.
I wonder if any of the hard decisions will ever be properly confronted in this age of television. Even for arguments over small, incremental spending cuts, the camera can always find victims to cry and politicians to make promises, especially with an important election looming, like 2012.
Republicans will push Democrats inch by inch away from fiscal calamity when they should be pushing by miles, and I fear the benefits will be marginal, like giving an aspirin to a cancer patient. We don’t need baby steps, we need revolutionary spending cuts.
Our ship of state is on a course to fiscal disaster, like the Titanic steadily steaming to the iceberg. Instead of changing course, I expect that Republicans and Democrats will spend their time arguing over the best way to rearrange the deck chairs to improve the view.
[Terry Garlock lives in Peachtree City. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]