"Once abolish God and the government becomes the God." -G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Gang of Six: Summer's Worst Sequel

They're back! And this time they're going for broke. Call them the Dirty Half Dozen.

The Gang of Six rides again in the U.S. Senate. This is the summer sequel none of us were looking forward to, well except for maybe the damsel in distress in the Oval Office. Like any summer sequel, the script is a lightweight seven pages with huge plot holes, tired characters, and no substance. It's so full of the usual "bipartisan" schlock it's like waking up and seeing Arlen Specter back in the Senate... as a Republican. What is it about real spending cuts and no tax increases that these so-called conservatives don't get?

As the Heritage Foundation reports:

The Gang of Six circulated a plan that has Congress enact a law now whose principal elements (1) make unspecified spending cuts and unspecified tax increases to yield a $500 billion reduction in the federal deficit, and (2) impose spending caps on discretionary spending, but not on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and welfare programs that are the main cause of out-of-control spending. Then the Gang of Six promises — an unenforceable promise — that some time in the next six months Congress will enact a second law with all kinds of Christmas presents for everybody.

All the hard negotiation of spending is being undercut by the usual "kick-the-can-down-the-road" clan in Washington. This is winning only as Charlie Sheen defines it. I suppose when you only run for re-election every six years as senators do, you may not fully comprehend the mood of the electorate. America's hardest-working citizens have drawn a line in the sand. They have said no more empty promises, no more trillion dollar deficits, no more shady backroom deals, and no more business as usual. So typically, the Gang of Six gave us a shady backroom deal of phantom cuts they can't deliver to cover for business as usual.

Oddly enough, this budget battle hasn't even moved from the baby pool into the shallow end of what most of us would consider meaningful cuts, yet Republicans are already coming up for air. Few in Washington have suggested anything as extreme as living within the parameters of the fiscal budget of oh, say, five years ago. That budget, nearly one third smaller than this year's current projections, was considered egregious enough at the time to fire a third of Republicans in Washington. Now Democrats completely refuse to propose a budget for fear of giving drunk sailors a good name. Wow, how times have changed.

As the debt ceiling looms and credit agencies warn our government to cut back, the Democrats are unwilling to put even boondoggles like the president's proposed high speed rail on the chopping block. That's $55 billion of unnecessary spending that hasn't taken place yet, doesn't push seniors over a cliff, and can be eliminated immediately. Speaking of, what's faster than a speeding train proposed by the federal government? A bus ride that gets you from Iowa City to Chicago faster at a fraction of the price.

George W. Bush was supposed to be the big spender who drove our economy into the ground, but his average budget deficits are low enough as to be unreachable by the current administration. We have a president making more detailed plans for his 50th birthday party than producing any specifics whatsoever for halting the debt crisis as the deadline looms on August 2. Where's the beef, as they used to say, Mr. President? Probably being smoked and marinated for that August 3 blowout bash, which you too can take part in from your own home.

President Obama seems annoyed that he is being asked to clean up a crisis he shares a large responsibility in creating. As he used to say on the campaign trail, we can't afford four more years of the last eight years. Instead he has given us eight years of unaffordable spending in a mere four. Now when looked upon for a solution, he wants us to just let him eat his waffle. Even though he is asking us eat our peas.

Sadly, the Gang of Six seems to be okay with that.