Below are two perspectives on the promises made by the 112th Congress and if they will be upheld.
Will the one 112th Congress actually cut the budget?
Anonymous Staff Writer
It took a lot of back and forth, grandstanding, and name-calling, but Congress has finally negotiated a new tax deal. In an inspiring display of equality, Republicans were able to push their defense of tax-cuts for everyone. No doubt Americans will stay inspired for the entire rollercoaster ride down, because it seems very likely that we lost the option to take the bunny hill quite a while ago.
Those of us that have taken a calculus, accounting or business class, or know how to add and subtract, probably realize that if the income side of an equation is suddenly deprived of billions of dollars, then it can only be a burden to the expenditures on the other side. This is at a time when the debt to GDP ratio is estimated to reach over 100% by 2012. At that point, we will owe more than we “make” in a year. This is during the first year when Social Security started dipping into its “trust fund” to start paying out its obligations. But the trust fund is not made of flatscreens or mini-fridges— only treasury bonds. Despite what some economists would have you believe, the bonds, which are an obligation to the government, cannot also count as an asset in the same equation. This means that the 15.3% Ponzi scheme stopped being a cookie jar for the budget office to steal from, and just became the broken window you have to pay for out of your allowance for the next 34 years (projected). Effectively, this is as if a small creditor nation of ours started calling in its debts after lending us money for over 20 years. This means that each year a greater proportion of Social Security payouts will be purely inflationary. And not the pretend QE2 “we totally got this” inflation that we’d like to believe can be turned on and off like a faucet, but real, gritty, “what was that previous generation thinking” inflation that the zero digits on our bills will come to love. This is just one example of the negative consequences that time will compound, but it will become typical of entitlement programs, like Medicare, moving forward.
You might think that given the consensus that things will undoubtedly get worse, that there might be some type of bipartisan effort to step on the brakes, or at least slow our rate of acceleration. Don’t look to the White House for leadership on this issue. Even before he won the primary, Obama was making only modest gestures towards reducing the yearly deficit, and time has pounded and tenderized that sentiment to an even smaller number like a piece of butcher meat. Democratic leadership is already too concerned with leaving a legacy to play in 2012 to tackle a truly hard problem (although to be fair, there is none harder). Emerging from the darkness is the bipartisan Senate commission, making the tough decisions and coming out with pretty reasonable, across-the-board cuts—comprising 75% of the plan—and certain tax increases—25% of the plan. It will mean less of the zany military R&D, a higher retirement age for some benefits, pay freezes for Department of Defense personnel, and less farm subsidies. They did a great job of building consensus, because everyone agrees that no matter whom you are, there’s something in there for you to hate. Even Paul Ryan, the only one concerning himself with the long-term problem (also known as the adult in the room for the past three years), had to throw up his hands and refuse to endorse it because it didn’t go far enough on the healthcare side.
I really hate to say it, but just from reading the first guiding value of the proposal, you can tell it was doomed: “We have a patriotic duty to come together on a plan that will make America better off tomorrow than it is today.” The “We” in this case is supposed to mean everyone, but in Washington-lexicon, it actually means “no one.” If everyone has a responsibility to make America a better place, or even a slightly less bankrupt one 30 years from now, that means that no one can afford to spend their time worrying about something that they probably won’t be around to reap the political benefits for solving. In fact, as the walls close in around us and our breathing becomes labored and the goose-bumps warn us that the painful end is becoming more and more inevitable and impossible to stop, even in theory, then the more you can bet there will be less concern for the future, and more rhetoric about how your representative has worked his tail off in Washington to try and ease your suffering (and it wasn’t easy, considering that the dwindling spoils were hotly contested for among other suffering districts).
It is absolutely true that as a country divided, we cannot stand. Unfortunately, we only seem to rally to the idea that all our problems can be solved by the right application of subsidies and earmarks. We loathe sticking to any principled policy, especially when it conflicts with politicking. Look at Boehner’s backtracking on earmarks: He is against them, and they must stop, but if Congress doesn’t allocate those transportation funds then the responsibility will go to the President, and they can’t let that guy take any credit for anything. And that’s just the most plain, least conspicuous string on the marionette. In theory, politicians should be a counterweight to lobbyists, sticking to some type of principle that they sold us during election season. In reality, with a budget so large, it’s worth the money for any industry to lobby, and in cumulative the effect is overwhelming. If, say, the peanut industry was so inclined, even the smallest byline in a no-questions-asked regulatory bill could earn many times back the cost of the lobbying required to put it there. And if that happens, the jelly and bread lobbies are going to be just as happy, but in whose interest is it really to oppose? There is no organization to get outraged over a 4¢ increase in peanut butter, and who can afford a 2¢ surcharge on syringes when the profits are so concentrated? Even the President, the guy nominally in charge of the agencies bailing out the banks, had to make a quiet visit to New York not to dictate or negotiate terms, but to plead with the bigwigs there to lobby a little less, because it was embarrassing how toothless the reform bill was becoming. He was right. This is embarrassing.
With the two powers in Washington unwilling and unable to change the scope of their horizon, one is tempted to look for an underdog, new faces and hopes that someone will come to Washington knowing what to do, riding a wave of popular sentiment to tame the beast. And so the five or six tea partiers came, and the good news is that this means there are about 250% more Congressmen concerned about the deficit. However, these are freshmen legislators. They have very little say in committee. Their opinions that they’ve shared on cable news will probably stay there. They have no solidarity, and their extremism is matched only by the range and focus of their political leanings, and, most importantly, they are outnumbered. Even the entire might of the Democrats were only able to just barely pass the healthcare reform, and no matter your opinion on that, it is without a doubt underwhelming when you consider that it took the entire effort of the political establishment. Even then, it was a net loss according to the CBO. And, as the Republicans learned, to keep their image, they only have to be more “fiscally responsible” than the Democrats: a very low bar indeed. What chance, then, do the Tea Partiers have? Ever since November 3, every speech and interview with them has been conciliatory, a softening of their positions. They will probably fade into mediocrity, proud, but ineffectual, a voice of reason, maybe, but only a voice, and only a few out of hundreds.
The Congress this year is about the same as the last. You can have hope, for who, five years ago, would have thought budget deficits and fiscal reality would ever even be an issue? But looking at the history of the past 40 years, there is more likely than not to be some crash, or some new war, to push us closer to the abyss in a way no one thought possible. Geithner might say now that the credit rating of the United States will never drop below AAA, but until not long ago, there were other institutions claiming the same. And it was true. Until one day, it wasn’t.
New Republican Congress Must Uphold its ‘Pledge to America’
Gabriella Hoffman, Advertising Manager
President Ronald Reagan once noted, “[The] Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” Both the Republicans and Democrats have worked against the American people for too long by endorsing policies and legislation that support Big Government. The government should not dictate every matter in a person’s life, as it fashions dependency, leeching, and lazy tendencies. It is imperative that the newly-elected Republican Congress accord themselves with Reagan’s vision of limited government mentioned above. If Republicans behave like their Democratic compatriots, they will face their untimely undoing unless they return to their conservative roots. That is where the ‘Pledge to America’ comes in.
In comparison to other presidencies, Obama’s has been met with the greatest usurpation of individual rights imaginable. With attacks to free speech, borders, American well-being, and the like, the United States is being attacked by those eager to destroy and pervert it. No prior president opted to radically transform the United States into a third-world nation. No prior president felt inclined to go on a world apology tour and renounce American Exceptionalism.
Unfortunately for Obama, the American people have rejected his socialist agenda and all that emanates from it. Following Obama’s coronation into the White House, the American people formed the TEA Party Movement after seeing err in his policies and conduct as president. Additionally, they grew dismayed with the Democratic Party run by ringleaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid because members of the incumbent party continue to be reluctant when listening to their constituents. The TEA Party Movement burgeoned after continued discontent with Democrats and establishment Republicans continued to ignore their constituents as they clung to ObamaCare, innumerable bailouts, and wasteful spending.
Dismayed with establishment politicians, TEA Party candidates and several Republicans set the precedence for the ‘Pledge to America.’ If elected to office during the 2010 midterm election cycle, successful candidates molded themselves after this pledge and work to restore conservative principles encompassed in limited government, reverence for the Constitution, and respect for the will of the American people.
While many Democrats continue their lackluster ways, Republicans are working to implement the ‘Pledge to America.’ In such, they want to ensure that Obama’s harmful policies are defeated and that the country gets back on the right track. These politicians cannot take America for granted again and be frivolous in their responsibilities. As a result, this pledge vows to uphold the principles mandated by the Founding Fathers to put our elected officials in check.
The Republican ‘Pledge to America’ begins: “America is more than a country. America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.”
Incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his colleagues championed this pact to outline their agenda for the 112th Congress. Plans to completely repeal ObamaCare in exchange for lower health costs, as with intent to protect and promote American jobs, comprise this pledge. Since the Democrats have failed to uphold and respect the Constitution, the Republicans must take heed on preserving “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” as explicitly stated in the Declaration of Independence.
“And you’ll find plans to return power in the House back to the hands of the people. No more flagrant disregard for the Constitution; no more kickbacks and backroom deals; no more passing massive bills that no one has had a chance to read.”
Boehner continues by highlighting the need for accountability to the American people. Historically, the House of Representatives has been regarded as the “People’s House.” The passage of ObamaCare, stimulus bills, and other heinous legislation evinced carelessness and complete disrespect for citizens. When the ‘Pledge to America’ goes into effect, congressmen and women will be inclined to listen to their constituents, read every piece of legislation handed to them, and not jam taxes down our throats. The carelessness and downright elitist mentality that has clouted Congress must be suppressed, as politicians have grown too comfortable with being permanent agents in Washington, D.C. These representatives work for us, and not the other way around.
“With this document, we pledge to dedicate ourselves to the task of reconnecting our highest aspirations to the permanent truths of our founding by keeping faith with the values our nation was founded on, the principles we stand for, and the priorities of our people. This is our Pledge to America.”
The Republicans in Congress must uphold the virtues and principles laid out by the Founders. They must return to their conservative roots vested in upholding traditionalist viewpoints, limited government, free-market principles, strong national defense, and accountability to individualism. When politicians stray away from these and neglect upholding the Constitution, we get one of the most unabashed anti-American presidents in American history.
The ‘Pledge to America’ provides confidence that the incoming Congressional class will uphold the Constitution and respect those they serve. If they renege on this pledge, such a failure will be evidence of why Americans cannot trust either party. The Republicans promised change for the better during the midterm elections; let us hope they deliver it.