Tuesday, January 04, 2005


A Big Pat On The Back For Congress

So, let me get things straight - after four consecutive years of budgetary bloating, we're supposed to be impressed by the fact that Congress is going to halt the increase in spending this year? Not decrease the amount of spending, not bring anything resembling balance to the budget - nope, we're simply going to stop increasing spending, at least for this one year. I was listening to Hannity on the way home yesterday evening, and Sen. Frist sounded like a boy who was proud of bringing hom a barely-passing report card while talking about this new era of fiscal responsibility. I'm trying to understand why this is anything worth congratulating, and I'm trying even harder to avoid using crude sexual metaphors to describe Hannity's, ah-hem, gentle treatment of Frist on this issue.

After seeing an increase of roughly 30% in discretionary spending over the past four years and without a corresponding increase in income (hell, we actually cut income!), we now have a weak promise to only increase it by 1%. That somehow has got a lot of folks thinking that this is the same as rolling-back spending, or at least they're celebrating like that's what's going on. If I stated that I was currently spending 50% more than I bring in, but I had a recovery plan that simply called for maintaining that level of spending over the next 12 months, would that get me high-fives all around? Then why are these bozos in Congress getting away with it?

Oh, but they're going to cut the deficit in half in the next five years. Yea! That only puts us in the hole by another $250 billion each year, and that doesn't include the costs of the War on Terror, prescription drug plans, or Social Security privitization. My head fuckin' hurts.

Oh, and for all that talk about military strength and so on, we're now staring-down a $55 billion cut in defense spending. Maybe it's the right thing to do. Maybe we're cutting programs that aren't needed now, but will be crucial in the future. But will we see any significant discussion on the impact that the war in Iraq might be having on our future military capabilities? Doubtful.

The Clinton Era Republicans tried the same type of thing. They claimed they were cutting the budget when what they really did was cut the rate of increase in the budget. As it turns out programs get an automatic increase every year (or at least they used to). I might also add that Clinton took credit for this, right along side the Republicans.
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