Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Budget: Politics vs Simple Math

Sometimes the political process is hard to understand.  It often appears that both political parties take a stance on a particular issue even though they know full well that their position is flawed and has no chance of being voted into law.  But they take to the airwaves staunchly posturing for posturing sake.  They know what needs to be done but they don’t have the political courage to act.
Take for example the Republicans’ efforts to repeal “Obamacare”.   Republicans brought up repeal in the House knowing full well that their efforts had zero chance of passage in the Senate and even less chance of getting past a Presidential veto.  They knew full well that there are portions of the bill that all Americans like and would not want to give up.  Yet they went through the appeal process for strictly political reasons.    
It appears this same theatrical performance is being played out in regard to the 2012 budget.  Both parties know that any fiscally responsible budget must deal substantively with a reduction in defense, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending.  The country is broke and those for areas account for 80% of our spending. 
So here comes the President announcing his 2012 budget recommendations.  Instead of showing bold leadership and tackling entitlements the President avoided the subject.  Some pundits say he took this position because he feared that Republicans would demagogue the issue saying “Obama hates old people.”  Others say that this was a bold political move challenging Republicans, “ok, you campaigned on slashing the deficit and cutting entitlements let’s see what you’ve got.”  Still other calls this budget a first offer in what promises to be a long, difficult negotiation with Republicans.
Now it is the Republicans turn.  They roundly criticized the President’s failure to attack entitlements t as “punting”.  Will they offer substantive reform or will they nibble around the edges as Obama did? How can they avoid the subject after sweeping the mid-terms by boldly promising these very cuts?
It appears to us that all of this posturing is unnecessary.  We are not stupid.  We all know that our deficits are growing at an unsustainable level.  Tough cuts must be made.  The retirement age must be increased.  Medicare and Medicaid growth rates must be set at a fixed level for the next decade or two.  We cannot afford to wage two wars and continue to position ourselves as the worlds’ peacekeeper. 
This is not politics it is simple math.      

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