While politicians pat each other on the back for a “job well done” and Obama leaps up stairs to proclaim victory we witness another tiny Band-Aid placed over a festering and ignored wound. The deal reached to balance the federal budget is only good for one more week, when the elephant in the room will throw off the see-through veil hastily thrown over it to cover its magnitude.
The cuts made were minor. Imagine a football field length of ribbon representing the federal budget. It really doesn’t matter what type of ribbon, but since it represents debt let’s make it red. Now imagine all the clever politicians holding the red ribbon in their hands while fighting, fussing and debating over its extreme length. At wits end they finally agree to take scissors and cut off two feet. Everybody drops the ribbon to excitedly jump up and down, shout out “we won” and heads off to a Washington-style cocktail party replete with pundits, lobbyists and head-nodders who continue the praise.
Next week they all head back to the football field ribbon and try to decide how to cut it in half. The government’s budget is $6 trillion dollars. Last week’s “compromise” cut $38.5 billion of that. Another way to think of it is a family with a $5,000 income spending $15,000. The family gets together and after much yelling and screaming decides to cut $96 off the spending. This still leaves $14,904 in spending. Yep – they’re going bankrupt unless something really changes.
Not only were the cuts not enough to make a significant difference in our national debt, the threat of a shutdown is still looming – put off by only 7 days. Rep. Chris Van Hollen told ABC’s This Week he did not think the long-term six-month deal would pass. Back to square one.
Lest you want to believe there actually is something new under the sun, think again. The government managed to shut down 10 times during the Carter and Reagan administrations, although we have not had a shut-down since 1995.
That leads to the second question. What does it mean in the likely event of a government shutdown? Over 800,000 federal employees would be furloughed, or sent home without pay. In an unquestioningly idiotic turn of events, those people will eventually receive back pay – making the furlough a complete and utter illogical move.
Public parks would be closed, the post office stays open (they fund themselves), veterans services would stop, Visa applications would stop, National Institute of Health (NIH) trials would cease and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) would make no comment on air traffic controllers’ status.
One of the ways they hope to avoid a shutdown is through raising the debt ceiling. We want to borrow more. We already spend almost $20,000 for every person in the United States for the budget.
Unfortunately, if we don’t borrow more, the government will likely shut down. Another option thrown out was raising revenue. However, since the only way the government raises revenue is through taxes, look for more federal bite into your wallet.
The world is watching us trip and slip over our huge red ribbon. Maybe the ribbon should be used to tie each voting member of the government’s hands so they can’t reach their tax and debt-funded credit cards.