Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Doing The Bare Minimum to Get By

The House of Representatives passed the debt ceiling compromise bill yesterday.  The Senate is expected to pass the bill at noon today.  Then it will move to the White House where, upon affixing his signature, the President will pull the country back from the economic cliff.  Catastrophe averted.  Bravo!
The cameras captured the palpable sense of relief as the congressman congratulated one another for a job well done.  The occasion was made even more festive by the return of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  Giffords had been shot in the head while attending a public event in Tucson.  Her remarkable recovery is a testament to her strength and courage.  If only Ms. Giffords fellow congressmen could follow her example.
This bill, whose passage the members celebrate, does nothing.  It cuts one trillion dollars over the next ten years.  Washington spends that kind of money in a day.  It doesn’t touch entitlements.  It doesn’t touch tax reform.  It doesn’t create jobs and it doesn’t grow the economy.  All it does is resolve a contrived controversy that should have been little more than an accounting entry. 
Many of the bill’s supporters are proclaiming this bill to be a game changer.  They say it will shift the direction of the country.  They lie.  The shifts in the way we do business will be like driving a car and moving it from hugging the center line to hugging the shoulder.  We may have slightly adjusted our course but the direction that we are headed remains the same.
The spin doctors will continue to make their case.  They will tell progressives that fail safes in the bill will protect entitlements from future cuts.  That’s a lie.  They will tell conservatives that that the bill assures that taxes will not be increased.  That’s another lie.  They will tell the nation that this bill creates jobs and puts us on the path to a better economy.  That one is a whopper. The only thing this bill does is raise the debt ceiling and cut programs needed by the most vulnerable.
So, as we watch our elected leaders slap each other on the back we should take a step back and put their euphoria in perspective.  They did their job.  And the best we can say is that they did the bare minimum to get through the day.  For Congress, that’s the best we can hope for.
The politicians won today.  The country lost.      

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