The past couple of months, I’ve taken to biting my nails again, something I haven’t done since I was a teenager. In fact, the media have me on the verge of a nervous breakdown with their coverage of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the supercommittee).
I can’t tell you how stressed I’ve been thinking about the gut-wrenching task these hardworking, upstanding men and women have been facing. The thought of them having to find a way to cut spending by $1.2 trillion by Nov. 23 or face automatic, across-the-board spending cuts has caused my anxiety level to go through the roof.
I’ve tried to console myself by recalling that John Maynard Keynes assured us that, in the long run, we’re all dead anyway. But I still find myself hyperventilating, breaking out in cold sweats and having to fight off deficit headaches.
Buddha, who was a cut above Keynes when it came to wisdom, said that all unhappiness is caused by attachment. Reflecting on his words, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the essence of my problem. I simply became too attached to the supercommittee crisis, and the thought that those admirable public servants might fail has been more than I can bear.
Now that judgment day is upon us, the anticipation has become so nerve-racking that I find myself… hmm… well, to tell you the truth, I find myself yawning a lot. Sort of like watching an old movie that I’ve seen many times before — a movie that I didn’t much care for the first time I saw it.
OK, enough. Let’s get real here. Only the play-along-to-get-along media could hype a business-as-usual non-event like the supercommittee’s thumb-sucking task into sounding like the Cuban missile crisis — or at least the lead-up to the Super Bowl.
Does anyone really take this stuff seriously? Sadly, yes. In fact, I have it on good authority that millions of political junkies can get aroused over the most mundane news coming out of the Capitol Building or the White House. And according to the ads I’ve seen on TV, all of them would be wise to consult their doctors.
Sorry, but the truth is that the media’s hand-wringing over the supercommittee’s deficit-reduction work is nothing more than a monumental farce. By getting the public to focus on the choice of cutting $1.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years or triggering automatic spending cuts of $1.2 trillion, Congress is once again able to distract from what really needs to be done.
And by “really needs to be done,” I mean cutting a minimum of $1.5 trillion from the budget next year. Why $1.5 trillion? Because that’s what it would take to balance the current budget, which is already 10 times greater than it should be.
It’s all part of the same old Washington game, and the rules of the game are very simple: Democrats never agree to any serious spending cuts, and Republicans always give in (while pretending to be victorious, of course).
In other words, from the Democrats’ point of view, it’s: “Heads, I win; tails, you lose.” And from the Republicans’ point of view, it’s: “Just let us continue to eat in the Congressional dining room, work out in the Congressional gym and have access to insider stock-trading information, and we’ll go along with just about anything you ask of us.”
It never really mattered whether the so-called “spending cuts” came from the supercommittee or as a result of “automatic, across-the-board spending cuts.” Either way, the budget, the deficit and the national debt were guaranteed to continue to rise — and at an accelerating rate, at that.
What does this mean in terms of next November’s elections? Well, if the Republicans run a progressive candidate like Mitt Romney, once again allowing themselves to be intimidated by the Democrats’ constant admonishments that “voters want Democrats and Republicans to come together,” then they will have learned nothing from their Mush McCain mistake in 2008.
It’s scary to think about, but even Ann Coulter has fallen into the ageless trap of believing that conservatives should once again set aside their principles and nominate a candidate who can win. Not only is such a position unprincipled, it also yields either a losing Presidential race or a Republican President who does nothing more than carry the water bucket for Democrats. (Think George W. Bush.)
Perhaps the biggest tip-off that Romney has Democrats licking their chops at the thought of his winning the Republican nomination is that their liberal media cheerleaders keep insisting he is the candidate Democrats fear most. That’s a dead giveaway for just how badly they want him to be the Republican nominee. Trust me, the thought of running nonstop ads that feature Barack Obama thanking Romney for creating the model for Obamacare has them both salivating and cackling.
Of course, if voters bypass Romney and flee into the arms of Newt Gingrich, Democrats would also have a ball with some of Gingrich’s more infamous positions — supporting the Troubled Asset Relief Program, global-warming couch sessions with Nancy Pelosi, favoring an individual mandate for healthcare, and, worst of all, referring to Paul Ryan’s serious budget-cutting plan as “extreme right-wing social engineering.”
The important question of the day is not whether the supercommittee will “compromise” and work out a spending-cut plan or take the easy way out and allow automatic spending cuts to be triggered. Either way, you can be sure there will be no significant cutbacks in government spending.
A far more important question is: Will conservatives be smart enough and tough enough to understand that promising to cut the size and scope of government and put an end to the criminality in Washington is what got them elected to Congress in 2010?
Or will they misread the political climate once again and run scared — right into the arms of their socialist pals across the aisle — and hand the only Marxist President in American history a default victory that will give him the time he needs to finish the job of destroying what is left of the U.S. economy?