I found a certain sense of relief not long ago when I stopped imagining our Capital, our Congress and Senate, as remarkable, stoic enterprises, and began to accept them more as a ditzy blonde on a bowling team. Affable, not that bright, well-meaning and mostly harmless, and adorably, blissfully absent of any sensible notion regarding nearly any subject.
Consider the “budget crisis” we just endured in Washington, D.C. . Never mind that the Obama administration has had since October to hammer out the same details that now had to be plowed through in another “faux” emergency. Now, with Republicans holding some sway, and the nefarious Tea Party bearing influence in untold sums, agreement on spending and cutting became hard to come by. Many argued that the 60 billion or so that was holding things up was indeed a small percentage of the overall budget, but there is also a growing sensibility that dictates that no amount is too small to forgo scrutiny. I am with the latter group.
So naturally, rumors grew about the possibility of a “Government Shutdown”. We all know that means practically nothing because government never “closes”. We should be so lucky. No..it is simply an increasingly popular gimmick to add pressure to hold-out votes. We soldiered through a brief government shutdown under President Clinton and nobody noticed. Granted, this one was to be a little more consequential, but it was still little more than “non-essential” workers being told to stay home, and probably still get paid. I would point out here that only in government could the phrase “non-essential worker” even exist without snickers and guffaws. For those of us in the private sector, that sounds silly. “I’m here for the non-essential job. I know you don’t need me, but I’d still like to show up everyday for 35 years and then leave with a huge pension and health benefits. That is…if you don’t mind…”. Problem is…the taxpayers are starting to “mind”.
This is why Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which was alternately heralded as brilliant or evil, was, if nothing else, radical. And needed. Liberals howled that old folks would be dying in the street, and the less fortunate would be left to die as entitlement programs were hacked back and thrown to the States. This is where they belong, though. States and communities can do what the Federal Government(the ditzy blonde on the bowling team) cannot…they can discern. They can discern the needy from the lazy and greedy and we need to do that. There isn’t enough money to help the needy…and THEM too.
States and communities can get more for each dollar because the programs are not enveloped in federal government lard. If you give fifty bucks to a needy person…they get the entire fifty. Boom. You give that same fifty bucks to Washington, and by the time they get it to that needy person…it’s twelve cents. That’s the problem.
So Ryan’s plan, or one like it, is painful for everyone but it reflects the true need of the country. It isn’t wishy-washy, it is serious and reflects the urgency that every American should feel about getting federal spending under control. We can continue on our spending spree and run the entire nation off a cliff. Or we can get serious about the pain that is going to be inevitable, and begin getting it out of the way. I’m with the latter group.