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Jerry Shenk


I Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday

by Jerry Shenk
 

"I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" - Wimpy, of Popeye
cartoon notoriety.

That was the offer presented to conservative members of Congress in a late
October budget deal "negotiated" behind closed doors by the White House,
lame-duck GOP House Speaker John Boehner and his Senate counterpart.

The deal's so "good" that all but one House Democrat voted for it. In fact,
more Democrats than Republicans did.

A complete GOP capitulation with no pretense of fiscal responsibility, the
deal awarded the president nearly everything he wanted. Like its 2013
predecessor, this agreement busts budget caps. In it, Washington politicians
have approved $50 billion of additional spending for the 2016 fiscal year
and $30 billion of additional spending in the 2017 fiscal year. That sounds
almost reasonable in the context of an $18 trillion-plus national debt, but
that's exactly how the debt reached $18 trillion.

Fiscal conservatives got nothing but empty promises: GOP leadership
"promised" that, in exchange for lifting spending caps today, Congress will
cut spending later ("I will gladly pay you Tuesday."). Is there anyone -
anywhere -- gullible enough to buy that?

In response to the 61 percent of Americans who opposed
a debt limit increase or wanted it tied to spending cuts, GOP boosters say
that the budget deal doesn't raise the debt ceiling. Technically true, it
actually suspends the ceiling until beyond Obama's term. To influence public
opinion, big-government Republicans and Democrats have used the same
dishonest scare tactics, claiming that, without a debt ceiling increase, the
government will default on its debt and launch a global crisis.

In 2013, the Cato Institute's Dan Mitchell testified before the Joint
Economic Committee: ".there is zero chance of default. Because.annual
interest payments are about $230 billion and annual tax collections are
approaching $3 trillion. .there's no risk of default - unless the Obama
Administration deliberately wants that to happen. But that's.not a realistic
possibility."

The Congressional Republicans responsible for this latest outrage say that
they had no choice but to "compromise" (read: "surrender"). After all, they
say, Senate Democrats would filibuster a responsible bill and the president
would veto it. The same Republicans say that they must prove to America that
"Republicans can govern" and "get things done."

See? It's not their fault. Republicans have no choice: They must "get things
done," so the only "thing" big-government Republicans can possibly do is to
enact the president's agenda. If they think a lousy two-year budget deal
suspending the debt ceiling until March, 2017 is "governing," then who needs
Republicans? Democrats are happy to "govern" by themselves. In fact, they
are. GOP leadership's moral abdication allowed minority Democrats to
increase spending and debt.

Even conservatives who expect very little from congressional Republicans
were disappointed by this latest failure.

The Senate followed, and the president signed the agreement on November 2.

There simply aren't enough responsible, courageous, principled,
math-qualified members of Congress in either party to head off these phony
crises or prevent the existential fiscal threats they create.


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