The budget negotitations in Congress seem detached from reality. According to its March, 2011 projections, we can expect the fiscal year 2011 deficit to be 1.425 trillion dollars. Since Conservatives think that is appalling, they want spending cut. So our Establishment Republican congressional leadership has offered to cut $61 billion (see Q&A: Danger of government shutdown grows at USAToday), and Democrats have countered with an offer to cut $33 billion. Meanwhile, Senator Scott Brown has called his Republican colleagues irresponsible (See Sen. Scott Brown calls Republican spending cuts ‘irresponsible’ at The Daily Caller). His letter includes this text.

Our collective work begins by having a clear understanding of the seriousness of our budget crisis and what is at stake if we fail to address it. We can all agree that we simply cannot continue on this reckless, unsustainable course. Reducing and eliminating needless spending and programs are appropriate, but a wholesale reduction in spending, without considering economic, cultural, and social impacts is simply irresponsible. We must also be mindful that many of the proposed spending reductions would disproportionately affect the neediest among us, including housing and heating assistance. Likewise, some of the proposed cuts would be economically counterproductive, negatively impacting our ability to innovate and invest in research and development.

Is Brown a RINO? I suppose so, but his reason for opposing a government shutdown makes sense (see his full letter here). What is the point? What Republicans have proposed is simply silly. Divide $61/$1425. Multiply by 100. That’s the percent Speaker John A. Boehner and company propose to reduce the deficit. Instead of identifying what needs to be cut and making their case, Boehner and company just picked a number too small to do any good. Who cares if they “win”?

But it is worse than that. Democrats have and will protect their welfare programs from a government shutdown. So a government shutdown will harm more Republicans than Democrats.   

How Did We Get Into This Mess?

The ridiculous debate tempts us to call Boehner a fool, but he is not. Boehner is just afraid. He is up against smart people he knows will do whatever it takes to get what they want. Consider the little glimpse we got from behind the scenes.

After thanking his colleagues — Barbara Boxer of California, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, who are facing off against the House Republicans over how to cut spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Mr. Schumer told them to portray John A. Boehner of Ohio, the speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme. “I always use the word extreme,” Mr. Schumer said. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.” (from here)

Boehner wants to cut $61 billion from a 3.629 trillion dollar budget, and that’s extreme? Why do we let Democrats get away with such nonsense? Why do we take their accusations seriously?

Consider what happens when someone tries to sell us something.  Ideally, we know what we need and can afford. Ideally, we will shop and compare, and each saleman we talk to tells us what his product can do and how much it costs. Then, after careful and thoughtful analysis, we decide what to buy.

Unfortunately, this ideal world does not exist. Some salesmen work to ensure long term relationships with their customers; such earn their income by providing value to their customers. Other salesmen, however, use their customer’s own greed and desires against them, and they sell them things they cannot afford and don’t work as advertised. With pretty pictures, little “white lies,” and fears of losing a good deal, such salesmen entice the toddler within to BUY NOW!

Have you ever raised a child? Remember the terrible twos. Do remember how difficult it can be to explain the concept of “NO” to a toddler? Children may be innocent, but each soon contrives their own preferred meaning of the word “mine.” To a child, “mine” is that pretty thing they want NOW! The person who says “NO” is a BAD mommy or a BAD daddy.

Each toddler sooner or latter develops wants, and a good parent must help their toddler gain control over those wants. But no parent entirely succeeds. So every adult, no matter how old or how intelligent struggles to humbly control his or her wants. How well we succeed indicates how wise we have become.

A Local Example

On Friday, I stumbled on this post, News and Messenger, your bias is showing at Moonhowlings. That post featured the video below and a review, PolitiFact report: Stewart opponent claims unemployment is up 150 percent in PWC.

What makes the News and Messenger (N&M) so terribly biased? Babur Lateef, running to replace Chairman At-Large Corey Stewart, produced a video with lots of true, but irrevelant “facts.”

Let’s review our findings.

Lateef’s raw numbers are mostly correct. Unemployment in Prince William is up 159 percent since November 2006, when Stewart took office. But Lateef’s campaign video omits the facts that the county’s unemployment rate is well below the Virginia rate and even further below the national rate. Workers in Prince William are much more likely to have a job than the average American.

Prince William housing-sale prices are down during Stewart’s tenure by roughly $150,000.

But prices were already dropping when Stewart took office, and he has little control over home sales. Prices also dropped sharply across the Washington area.

We rate this claim Half True. Lateef’s figures are fine, but he wrongly uses them to imply that Stewart is responsible for financial problems that not only shook Prince William County, but the nation. (from here)

Nonetheless, Democrats take Lateef seriously.  Here is what the Chairman of the Prince William County Democratic Committee, Bruce Roemmelt, had to say, Dr. Lateef Gets Some Good Ink.

“The numbers were correct,” he said. “Now we have to argue what Stewart’s role in that is and, to be perfectly honest, I think that’s what the election process is all about.” (from here)

We have to debate whether Corey Stewart has any significant influence over the financial health of our entire nation? How is it possible for opposing illegal immigration and cutting county government spending to wreck our nation’s economy?

Why do Lateef and Roemmelt expect to be taken seriously? They know we will never entirely learn to discipline our wants. Just because we cannot have everything we want when we want it does not mean we will politely accept “no” for answer. Therefore, even after our parents have long been dead and buried — when our fellow citizens must sometimes say “NO” to us — we hate those neighbors. We respond just as we did when mommy told us “NO.” 


Other Views

At Virginia Virtucon, Riley laughs at the absurd video in PolitiFact – PWC Dem Candidate Blames World’s Problems On Corey Stewart.

In Getting Goofy Early, Greg L of Black Velvet Bruce Li wonders when Lateef will blame Stewart for the earthquakes in Japan.

Blue Virginia provides hysterical titles, Corey Stewart Can Dish It Out, But… and Corey Stewart, We’ve Seen More Than Enough of Your Shenanigans!


  1. I’ve often thought that many politicians behave like children. And you’re right, the budget fiasco is bringing out the worst type of whining and finger-pointing. I am disgusted that so many of the the people we elect seem incapable of getting the job done. If any of them were in charge of the books for a company, they would have been fired long ago.


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