Blogs » Politcs Plus » The politics of the federal budget



I've been very critical of Fox's Chris Wallace, but I have to tip my hat to him for being the only journalist to take both parties to task for not tackling the 500 pound gorilla in the room in tackling our budget Federal budget woes. Yesterday, while hosting Fox News Sunday Chris Wallace gave Congressman Paul Ryan a chance to explain the house republicans budget proposals As Congressman Ryan started to praise his efforts for the $100 billion cuts and criticizing the president for wanting to invest in the future; Chris Wallace interrupted by saying “But, Congressman, a number of business leaders, including Tom Donohue, the head of the Chamber of Commerce, say that the economy needs some -- not a net -- but some new investments. He talks particularly about infrastructure, to create jobs. There are a number of independent economists out there that say if you have too many cuts too quickly when the economy is so weak, that is going to hurt the recovery." Congressman Ryan answered "Look, I am not worried about Washington cutting too much spending too fast. I mean, the kinds of spending cuts we're talking about just right now are $100 billion out of a $3.7 trillion budget." Chris Wallace pressed him again by saying “Let’s look at the cuts -- $3 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency; $2 billion in the middle of a recession from job training; $600 million from border security and immigration enforcement; $1.6 billion from the National Institutes of Health, and $500 million from the COPS program, which puts more police on the streets, when it gets down to those specifics, are you willing to defend all of those cuts?"Ryan defended his cuts by saying "Yes, because last year these agencies got double- and triple-digit spending increases. You throw the stimulus in there. EPA got a triple-digit spending increase. Look, if borrowing and spending were the way to create jobs, we would be at full employment." Of course the counter argument is "if tax cuts where the way to create jobs, we would be a full employment." Then Chris Wallace got to the heart of the matter, entitlements and defense cuts. Congressman Paul Ryan immediately criticized the president for not leading on the issue because at the very least that he should have endorsed the Bowles -Simpson's fiscal commission recommendations. That's when Chris Wallace said "You were on the Fiscal Commission, and you voted against it yourself." I think Chris Wallace led the way in telling the politicians and the White House that making cuts on nonmilitary discretionary spending is only 12% of the total budget; we're just spinning our wheels if we don't tackle the other 88%. The big five of the 88% is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense, and interest on the debt.

David Gregory of Meet the Press didn't get much out of speaker Boehner about the upcoming budget battle but one of his guest on his panel confirmed what I thought all along. One of his guests was Tea Party freshman, Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL) whose answers typify the average Joe on the streets. Any one in this forum could've given the same long drawn out response of "You know, I, I think that, you know, [budget cutting] is going to be done in phases. And I think that every American out there pretty much realizes that we have to go after the entitlement programs. I, I believe, truly, that everything is on the table, across the board." Mr. Schilling like most of the tea party does not want to give specifics on Medicare or Social Security cuts because they would not be reelected.

I heard a most interesting solution to the budget this morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." The show's host, Joe Scarborough, introduced Congressman Ron Paul as being one of the brave souls willing to tackle the entitlements and defense spending. I can usually agree with 20 minutes of a 30 minute speech of Ron Paul, before he goes into la-la land. He agreed that the democrats and republicans are just skimming around the problem but his solutions would never have bipartisan support. He puts on a good face but those who have listened to him knows he wants to gut most of the Federal programs like ,Social Security and Medicare, the IRS, EPA,CIA, and change the words " defense spending " to "terroristic spending”, so taxpayers would be willing to accept defense cuts. Ron Paul said Obama would be hard to beat, when he was asked of his chances of his winning the republican nomination, then he said his rhetoric appeals to the independents and progressives, so he would stand a better chance at beating Obama than getting the republican nomination. I don't know what makes him think that his rhetoric appeals to progressives because he ended by calling president Obama a "warmonger."Will those words get you a lot of progressive votes,Mr.Paul?

I agree with Time Magazines’ Mark Halperin’s (page 20 of The weeks’ Time Magazine) assessment that both timid proposals are just fodder for the talk shows because behind the scenes the White House, GOP leaders, business leaders and moderate democrats will produce a historic compromise with enough Social Security and Health care cuts to make many liberals balk and enough tax increases (maybe a gas hike) to get conservatives grousing. We do have to implement some sort of shared sacrifice cutting measures but we don't have to panic because according to a Wall Street Journal poll 51% of the economy in that poll gave a pretty optimistic forecast with only 12% of them think we will enter a double dip recession. Before the financial crash, housing was 20% of the economy, now it is a fraction of that, so the economy is improving despite the bad housing numbers and all those businesses associated with that industry. If we could just get the housing industry going, the economy would improve at a, much faster clip.