Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Budget Nuttery

If there's one thing you're hearing about in the news right now--besides the upheaval across the Arab world and Michelle Obama trying to breast-feed Americans--it's the constant budget wars between the GOP and Democrats. If both sides are correct--and of course they should be!--this is because Republicans are trying to starve poor people and Democrats are busy trying to pay for a socialist state.

Of course, if you're not a meathead, then you'll recognize that our problems really can be boiled down into one sentence:

Americans want more government than they're willing to pay for.

That's really it. Years of Republicans in charge have shown us that no one will dare make serious spending cuts in the three sacred cows (defense, social security, medicare) and the Democrats for their part are scared to suggest significant tax increases--at most, they'll limit the higher taxes to the rich which won't raise enough revenue (and even then, with lopsided control of Congress and the White House, they couldn't even let the current tax rates lapse to the Clinton-era rates--which procedurally is MUCH easier to do than actually pass a tax increase, since they'd have to do nothing to accomplish this). In a way, you could say that both parties are representing the will of the people. After all, deficits are everyone and no one's problem, but a rise in your taxes or a cut in your benefits are your individual problem, and you'll be quite pissed if it happens.

Same thing at the state level. Wisconsin has evolved into a farce, with anti-GOP protesters forgetting the "new era of civility" in politics (it is once again acceptable to portray a politician with crosshairs over his face!), Democratic lawmakers skipping town to avoid the vote (great message that sends!) and Republicans unwilling to compromise over any of this. But you know what? Maybe this is all for the best. If they can't do anything useful, at least they can entertain.

In the meantime, we should all think about what countries we want to be citizens of when this one collapses.

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