Friday, July 27, 2012

Not Without Your Dollars

As the saying goes, there's bad government spending, and then there's OUR government spending.

"In contrast to the plan proposed by Senate Republicans, Washington has turned to more government spending, higher taxes, while pushing for overly burdensome regulations on job creators and manufacturers – slowing our economic recovery. We’ve already learned from experience that we can’t spend our way to prosperity. Instead, we must encourage employers to invest in their companies, hire new workers and enable them to compete globally, which is what the Senate Republican Jobs plan will do," Portman added.

After the Army didn't order new tanks last year, Congress approved $255 million to upgrade dozens of M1s through 2014. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, pushed hard for the spending.

"You know last year I was able to play a role to ensure that the facility would stay open for this year," Portman says, "but we're now fighting the same fight for next year."
Plant Pleads To Stay Afloat, But Army Says 'No Tanks'

Given the nature of Congress, calls for fiscal austerity, no matter how vehement or often repeated, are rarely genuine. While there is, in fact, a lot to be said for keeping spending within revenues, calls to reduce the Federal budget have become more about channeling limited federal funds to chosen constituencies, while at the same time preventing the other party from doing the same. And then often having challengers to the incumbent make a point of campaigning on a failure of the current representation to "bring home the bacon." Of course, all the while decrying surviving programs that benefit others at "pork."

While, of course, it is easy to blame the vagaries of Congressional politics for these sorts of situations, the simple truth is that we, as citizens, have become too accustomed to transfer payments (mainly from government borrowing) to support our standards of living. While Waste, Fraud and Abuse are certainly real (and in reality, difficult to root out), for many voters, the Three Horsemen of the Budget Apocalypse have come be stand-ins for a state of denial over just how much they rely on dollars from elsewhere - even more so than programs that benefit the "less deserving."

Despite being nearly ubiquitous, this sort of hypocrisy needs to be exposed for what it is. Not that doing so will make it go away. Rather, we should hope that it allows us to make more intelligent decisions as a society. We're unlikely to ever reach a point where, as individuals, we routinely put aside our personal interests for the common good. But if we continue to allow our representatives to mouth the empty rhetoric of fiscal discipline even as we lobby them to force departments agencies to overspend, there eventually won't be a common good to be promoted.

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