How do you bring a run-away government under control?
Rick Perry (Governor of Texas) and Nikki Haley (Governor of South Carolina) have a piece in the Washington Post in which they offer a solution to that problem we’re now experiencing:
We oppose an increase in the federal debt limit unless three common-sense conditions are met: substantial cuts in spending; enforceable spending caps to put the country on a path to a balanced budget; and congressional passage of a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That amendment should include a requirement for a congressional supermajority to approve any increases in taxes.
We can quibble about the particulars but in general I’m in agreement. That said, I have little hope that a balanced budget amendment will ever pass or that a congressional supermajority will become a requirement for tax increases. But the basic premise – cuts in spending, enforceable spending caps and difficulty in passing new taxes would indeed help begin to bring the national government under some semblance of control.
Here’s the crux of the problem with the Federal government:
Washington’s ability to continuously vote itself more fiscal breathing room may help Congress — at least in the short term — avoid making the kinds of tough decisions made by states, businesses and families. But ignoring economic realities will lead to even more painful choices down the road and increases the potential for a financial collapse that could permanently cost America its role as the world’s leading economic power.
Unfortunately, the system in Washington makes it easier for elected officials to bury their heads in the sand, avoid responsibility and make the easiest choice of all: borrow more, plunge our nation deeper into debt and allow this generation to punt the tough decisions to our children and grandchildren.
Such moves may be good politics, since they mean officials don’t have to say no to anyone, but as a matter of policy they are indefensible.
That “reality” and the trump of politics over statesmanship are the reason we’re in this deep hole and most of us don’t expect to see anything serious about correcting it come out of Washington. After all, those that have to alter the reality inside the beltway are the same ones who have put us in this position in the first place (and I mean as a group going back decades). The proverbial fox guarding the hen house situation. That’s why it is difficult not to be cynical and skeptical about “solutions” – even this political show we see going on over the debt ceiling.
Perry and Haley are touting a pledge they’ve signed called the “Cap, Cut and Balance” pledge:
The only way to get the federal government to end this indefensible practice is to draw a line and finally hold Washington accountable. The pledge we’ve signed represents an important step in this process.
It calls for the kinds of budget cuts Washington needs now and for a hard cap on all future spending. And it finally moves us to a mandatory balanced budget that will end the era of national debt, raging deficits and failed “stimulus” programs that have negatively affected so many aspects of American life.
Americans must continue to stand up for the principles that served as the foundation for our nation’s unparalleled successes. The principles of a limited federal government and responsible fiscal leadership have sustained us during tough times, and they can lead us out of this period of sluggish economic growth.
Yeah, pledges are nice and sure it makes us feel better and focuses us on the problem. However, we’ve heard political pledges from politicians for years which have essentially promised to fix the problem in Washington. And here we are.
That’s not to say that Perry and Haley aren’t right. They are. It’s to say we’ve heard all this before, we’ve seen pledges come and go, and we’ve seen solutions offered that were perfectly reasonable that have never seen the light of legislative day.
We seem to have a class of politicians who seem to find it difficult to deal in the reality the rest of the country deals with every day – spending within our means, meeting budgets, and being responsible. I’d like to say I knew how to fix that, but after half a century of watching these nincompoops at work and how they’re seemingly rewarded for doing exactly what we’re now lamenting, I’m not sure the system can be fixed.
My cynical take on the day.