Sunday, July 10, 2011

Deficit Reduction - The Voters Will Need to Speak Clearly

The collapse of talks between Boehner and Obama on a "grand bargain" on the debt ceiling and future deficit reduction can be blamed on many things, but ultimately, the perceived self-interest of all parties makes such a deal impossible. There is no solution that will get enough Republican votes to pass the House that would also get enough Democratic votes to pass the Senate. To do so, would require months of preparation of public opinion the way that Ronald Reagan was capable of, to put pressure on legislators to accept a deal. A big part of the problem is that the President was so late to the game in proposing such a deal. The public has had no time to digest the implications. Republicans who were recently elected to reduce the size of government and resist tax hikes didn't see how this was in their or the country's best interests. Interestingly, it was only at the eleventh hour that the President put entitlement reform on the table, but given the structure of the Senate under Democrat control, I am certain he lacked the votes needed from his own party.

This is the result of divided government. Divided government is usually good, because it forces parties to compromise and means that only incremental change occurs. Two of the most execrable pieces of legislation from the last decade, Obamacare and the Medicare Part D drug entitlement, were passed during periods in which one party in control of the Senate, House and White House. However, we are now faced with an extreme problem of rapidly rising debt whose solution goes to the core of what we believe is the proper role of the federal government. The left believes we must increase the share of wealth consumed by government in the name of "fairness," with that wealth is redistributed through various entitlement schemes paid for by "taxes on the rich." Libertarians and conservatives, and notably tea party types believe that government has grown far beyond its constitutional limits and we must not only reign in its growth, but shrink the federal government for the sake of our liberty and prosperity.

These choices are stark. The Republican party and its Presidential candidate need to make the 2012 election a referendum on the issues of government size, constitutional scope and entitlement reform. The people of the United States, given a clear choice, will make the right call. But if Republicans lie, and say that this can be solved without pain to any group, especially those receiving entitlements, they will have failed the republic. We are at a tipping point, the choice will be ours to make. I look forward to participating in the debate.

1 comment:

  1. A tipping point for sure. I can't help but have little faith in the outcome of this stand-off. Hope I'm wrong.