NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The closest thing to immortality is a federal government program.
Every time the government creates a new spending program, it becomes someone’s sacred cow. Someone depends on that government service. Someone depends on that program for a government job. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says when he was first elected to Washington he was surprised to get a visit from the ice man. Fifty years after the widespread availability of mechanical refrigeration, the ice-delivery contract to the Capitol building lived on. Every few days ice would be delvered to congressional offices. It was scrapped when Gingrich became speaker.
The latest proposal to cut spending is to create a special blue-ribbon commission to hold hearings and recommend programs to be eliminated. The panel may also have the power to propose fee and tax increases. President Obama is likely to propose this idea during his State of The Union address this week.
Because any individual cut would be unpopular with some constituency, the panel’s entire recommendations would have to be voted on as a package. No changes allowed. This would also be political cover. Democrats could say they voted for the committee report, instead of voting on specific cuts. Republicans could say they voted for the committee report, instead of for tax increases.
What’s wrong with this picture? To start with, it shows that we are not governed by serious people. On the big issues, from health care, to social security, to the deficit, our leaders can’t make the hard decisions because they would be politically unpopular. There may also be Constitutional problems, since power to tax and spend rests solely with Congress – not with a blue-ribbon committee that Congress may create.
Here’s an idea that will never happen: Democrats, even without 60-votes in the U.S. Senate, can use reconciliation to pass any budget they want. Dems control the White House and both houses of Congress. The chances they will propose a balanced budget are zero. Democrats, like the Republicans before them, know that voters are more interested in getting government services that we can’t afford than living within our means.
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications, Wausau
Commentator George Will is also opposed to the Balanced Budget Commission, and proposes that member of Congress suspend their own pay while the Commission is doing their work. Read his op-ed piece here: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/will011810.php3