Well, no, it won’t necessarily be, as there’s very little scintillating about that topic (unless you’re an economist, but maybe not even then). But I just wanted to weigh in on the big topic at hand in Washington; the battle over the budget.
Understand that this is the current year’s budget we’re talking about. When the Democrats held majorities in both houses of Congress, they couldn’t pass a budget. And now that the Republicans have been swept into the budgetary side of the legislature, it’s even more difficult. But the Dems have no one to blame but themselves for this situation. If they’d passed a budget, Republicans, and especially the Tea Partiers among them, would have little to say on real spending until the fall. But free-for-all spending without a budget is sort of liberal utopia in a nutshell, so being hoist on their own petard elicits some satisfying schadenfreude.
OK, enough clichés. Moving on.
Both sides say they want to be responsible with the budget, but the tsunami of red ink the Democrats have drowned us and our grandchildren in doesn’t speak to any real underlying principle of restraint. Things were bad when Republicans held Congress and the Oval Office, but, as predicted, the Democrats were orders of magnitude worse. The Tea Party was a response to both issues, and some of the Republican leadership sees this and is doing something about it. Not nearly enough, mind you, but a more concerted effort than we’ve seen in quite a long time.
Yet both sides have their sacrosanct programs. For Republicans, this is generally the military, and for Democrats, this is generally entitlements. Let’s start with the latter. A blogger I know from the Left asked an open question on how to cut $300 billion. His answer was, of course, stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (though Libya went interestingly unmentioned; perhaps because that’s a "kinetic military action" and not a war) and cut military programs. Viola. He asked for other ideas, with one stipulation being that it shouldn’t be done "on the backs of the poor, sick, elderly and otherwise marginalized". That kind of phrasing generally means "entitlements are untouchable, and if you even look at them sideways, we have a demagogue script all ready to go." Thus, for liberals, entitlements can only ever go up, period. Yet that is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Entitlements are eating up so much of the budget that much of the rest is just a case of nibbling around the edges. One suggestion I heard was to just take the 2008 budget and pass it. It would cut spending, including entitlements, and somehow, with that budget, we didn’t have rampant homelessness and the elderly starving to death. (And don’t talk to me about inflation; that was just 3 years ago.)
Which brings us to the Republicans. If entitlements are an 800 pound gorilla, the military is it’s 600 pound cousin. But here’s are the differences:
- The military is a constitutionally-enumerated power of the government. Wealth redistribution is not.
- While the rest of the world look down their collective noses at the size of our military and the money we spend on it, this is the same world that asks, "Where are the Americans?" anytime we don’t show up to an atrocity or a despot or any other international incident. Europe wouldn’t handle Kosovo. The Arab League wouldn’t handle Libya. Everyone sneers at our military, but wouldn’t know what to do if we didn’t have it.
Indeed, I would like to see some saving in military spending by, for starters, shutting down all those bases in Europe that were there to protect it from Soviet aggression. Turn them over to the locals and let them man the battle stations, or abandon them, whatever. But before you start cutting military spending on current hot spots, let’s get rid of the spending on spots that haven’t been hot for decades. There is money to be cut from the military if you’re willing to look. I’m sorry that manufacturing jobs may be lost, but if you’re keeping the jobs for the jobs’ sake and not for what’s being produced, how is that any different than socialist/communist make-work jobs?
The sacred cows need to be put on a diet. All of them