The Bizarre Nature Of Our Political Discussions About Spending In DC

Consider this, if you will.

1) Spending is one of those areas where “everybody” agrees: The United States government cannot continue spending more money than it takes in. Even Barack Obama has called the way that we’re spending money right now “unsustainable.”

2) We INDISPUTABLY cannot raise taxes on the rich enough to make up for our budget shortfall. Even if we confiscated every dime they earned (which is impossible, because they would either stop making so much money or flee the country), we STILL couldn’t make up the deficit we have now.

3) “Everyone” acknowledges that the spending problem is going to get worse. How could it not as more Baby Boomers start collecting Medicare and Social Security and the interest payments on the debt continue to mount?

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4) That leaves us with exactly three options to work with: A) Dramatically increase taxes on the middle class, B) dramatically cut spending, or C) continue along a path that “everyone” calls unsustainable.

Nobody in DC, in either party, seems to be seriously considering A), so that leaves us with two choices: B) or C).

Now, here’s the bizarre thing: BOTH parties talk as if they want to do B). Both parties say the level of spending we have is “unsustainable.” Both parties frequently criticize the Bush Administration for spending too much money. Both parties say it’s important to cut waste from our budget.

Yet, stories like this one are commonplace:

Conceding defeat this time, Senate Dems pledge to win next round

Senate Democrats conceded Tuesday that House Republicans won round one of the budget fight, but they are vowing a bigger battle later this month.

…“The real battle is to come with the next, the long-term [spending resolution], the next time. That’s going to be the battleground,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee with jurisdiction over education, labor and health programs.

A Democratic senator who attended a Tuesday conference lunch said colleagues “vented” over cuts in the House bill.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) bashed Republican calls to cut the women, infants, children (WIC) health and nutrition program, according to a Democratic source familiar with the closed-door discussion. She distributed fliers to other Democratic senators that listed arguments against the GOP proposal. The WIC cuts are not in the stopgap measure approved by the House on Tuesday.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) spoke out against cuts to Planned Parenthood and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) argued against cuts to the Army Corps of Engineers that she said would stall crucial water projects in California and around the country, according to a Democratic source.

But not all Democrats were that upset with having to accept the latest House GOP-proposed cuts.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who will likely face a tough reelection race in 2012, said she “does not have a problem” with the two-week spending bill the House passed with a large bipartisan majority on Tuesday.

Senate Democrats have been defeated….why? Because they had to cut a piddly sum out of the budget. But, they vow to really fight next time — against what, exactly? We’re going to run a deficit this year of around 1.5 trillion dollars, we’re spending money at a level even Democrats admit is “unsustainable,” and yet they’re horrified that the GOP wants to make cuts that will amount to roughly 1/25 of the budget deficit we’re going to have this year?

If you step back from day-to-day politics and look at that with an unjaundiced eye, doesn’t it seem utterly ludicrous? Well, welcome to American politics in 2011.

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