06.08.2011 0

D.C.’s Irreconcilable Differences

By Rick Manning – Americans are dissatisfied and frustrated with their government because our elected representatives seem unwilling to do what is in the obvious best interest of the nation.

In Washington, D.C. last week we saw the same tired dance that has led us to this budget mess as Republicans left town determined to force major budgetary cutbacks including possible changes to the nation’s soon to be insolvent Medicare system, while Democrats emerged from a meeting with the President emboldened that they will take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives over the Medicare issue.

Just one day after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan explained to the President what his proposal to save Medicare entails, and Majority Leader Cantor urged the Democrats to quit demogoguing the issue, former Speaker Pelosi told ABC News, “What we want is to change the view that the Republicans have that it is OK to abolish Medicare [and] to make seniors pay more for less while we give tax breaks to big oil.”

Pelosi’s words coming straight from a White House meeting hardly inspire confidence that Obama and Congressional Democrats are going to embrace a bi-partisan “let’s get it done” attitude necessary to create a path to a balanced budget in this time of fiscal crisis.

In one statement, Pelosi encapsulated the entire problem in Washington.

Boldness in attempting to solve any problem is met with attacks by those who know that anyone who attempts to change the status quo is risking their political power and authority.  So, the default response in Washington, DC is the “moderate” one, of doing nothing but tinkering around the edges of problems.

Unfortunately, the more than $14 trillion deficit our nation has amassed (more than $5 trillion since 2007) puts our entire economy in jeopardy, and time has run out for political gamesmanship.

Let’s be clear.  Paul Ryan’s budget is not a radical document.  It doesn’t balance the budget for twenty seven years!  And that balance is only achieved if all of the positive economic projections are met (they won’t be.)

Twenty seven years to bring the budget to balance is nowhere near radical enough to be honestly considered as a solution to the fiscal crisis facing our nation.

Yet, Ryan’s proposal is viewed in some quarters as the equivalent of hiding FDR’s wheelchair on a meanness scale.

The signature portion of Ryan’s plan is his Medicare proposal.  The Ryan Medicare plan would keep every American 55 years old and older in the exact same Medicare plan that they already have or would currently be eligible for, right now.  Gasp! How scary! No change at all for Grandma and Grandpa.  But younger Americans would be allowed to shop for health care providers across state lines and choose a privately offered insurance plan that met their individual health needs saving the government money and saving the program from almost certain insolvency.

Ryan doesn’t take health care away from seniors, yet television ads are being played on Murder She Wrote and Matlock re-runs trying to scare seniors that mean ole Paul Ryan wants to take away their Medicare.

Ironically, Democrats and Republicans agree that unless the entitlement spending is tackled now, it will be impossible to keep the promises made by earlier politicians to future seniors.  Yet, in spite of this agreement and the rhetoric out of Washington, we are seeing another act in the same tired play.

Administration officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will cluck disapprovingly because the nation’s debt ceiling hasn’t been increased as Republicans try to use this as leverage to force spending cuts.

House Speaker John Boehner will likely pass a debt ceiling increase bill that contains a pathway to a balanced budget.

Senate Republicans will urge that at the very least a balanced budget constitutional amendment must be sent to the states along with an increase in the debt ceiling.

Nancy Pelosi will demand higher taxes on everyone who her polling indicates the American public believes is wealthy.

And Obama will call for bi-partisanship while hitting the road on his campaign trail mischaracterizing the Ryan Medicare plan as an attempt to throw old people out of their sick beds.

Through all the political machinations, our government will continue to spend money that we don’t have on a credit card underwritten by the Chinese government.

Unfortunately, it appears that our nation’s elected officials who have sworn their allegiance to preserve and protect the United States of America won’t get around to doing anything to uphold that oath until Nov. 2012 when American’s will decide whether we need a new president, and whether political party control should change in either or both Houses of Congress.

Given the current spending binge, let’s hope that by then it’s not too late.

Rick Manning is the Communications Director of Americans for Limited Government.  He can be followed on twitter @rmanning957.

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