Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Federal deficits, debt, budgets, and politics. Failing to confront a serious situation.

President Obama came out with his budget recently. It would add trillions to the federal government's debt over the next 10 years.

The Republicans in the US House came out with their
budget plan.
The plan offered by Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, cancels the looming deep defense spending cuts that resulted after last year’s deficit supercommittee failed to reach an agreement, and instead slashes other government spending on everything from food stamps to agriculture subsidies to the federal workforce.

Over the next decade, Mr. Ryan’s plan would spend $5.2 trillion less than President Obama’s budget, would tax Americans by $2 trillion less, and would lead to a smaller deficit in each year going forward.

But to get there, Mr. Ryan goes beyond last year’s debt-deal spending limits, cutting an additional $352 billion out of discretionary spending over the next decade — and he challenged Senate Democrats to join him.
While there's certainly room for disagreement with elements of the plan and it's priorities, at least it's a plan, a proposal. What's the US Senate doing? Nothing.
“None of this works if the Senate decides not to budget again,” Mr Ryan said. “The Senate didn’t do a budget in 2010. They didn’t do a budget in 2011. And now they’re saying they’re not going to do a budget again in 2012 at a time when we have the most predictable debt crisis on our horizon.”
And of course, politics will be front and center. The Washington Post notes that Democrats are looking to make it a political issue.
But the document — which pairs deep spending cuts with a reduction in the top tax rate paid by the wealthy — quickly provided new fodder for Democrats, who argued that Republicans would slash the social safety net while protecting the rich.
What's the old expression about "Fiddling while Rome burned." Appropriate to our current situation.

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