Cartooning the Issues

A minimum of commentary today—a maximum of cartoons. Let’s focus on the big issues facing Congress and the administration, such as the budget:

Or how about the energy issue?

And don’t forget immigration:

I hope those won’t be “last words” that we regret.

The Senate Goes AWOL

Six senators—dubbed “The Gang of Six”— have been working to come up with some kind of budget deal that they think everyone will accept. Of course, they could just adopt the Ryan plan already passed by the House, but that is anathema to the Democrat-controlled Senate. So these six, comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans, have labored to find something that will work.

No more. The six have been reduced to five with the withdrawal of Sen. Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma. He finally concluded that Democrats were not serious about real spending reductions. In other words, he’s come to a moment of clarity.

And Harry Reid, supposed majority leader, isn’t in any hurry to offer a plan. He spends most of his time blaming Republicans, despite the fact that House Republicans have put forward a plan that has passed that chamber.

Sen. Reid is about as phony as they come.

While the Senate fiddles, the U.S. economy fizzles. The debt continues to grow:

There are a few other problems as well:

To add to the consternation, there’s the issue of the debt ceiling being reached. What should Congress do about that? Well, a lesson from private life might be helpful:

Maybe it would be better to learn to live within our means and cut back? Nah, what am I thinking? That would show too much common sense.

The Budget, the Debt, & the Media

The budget and economic issues are once again going to come to the forefront shortly, if they haven’t already. Republicans and Democrats couldn’t be further apart in their view of the status of things and what needs to be done. While Republicans are warning against raising the debt ceiling without significant cuts in spending, Democrats have a different take on the situation:

President Obama himself has yet to get serious about the coming economic Armageddon. When he does mention it, he always blames it on the Republicans. Pardon me, but who controlled both houses of Congress from 2007 until this year? And who has added more than $5 trillion to the debt in just two years? Is this really something to be proud of?

Of course, conservatives/Tea Partiers have to be serious as well. They pushed for changes in spending; now they have to be willing to walk their talk, particularly on issues that affect them directly:

You can be sure if they become hypocritical on this, the media will hold them to account. One only wishes they would do the same on the other side:

As I’ve said before, I’m grateful we no longer have to rely on three networks to know what’s happening. Apparently you are, too, since you’re reading this blog.

Osama bin Laden & Other Realities

Many have commented on the utterly fantastic/unreal situation of the hideout of bin Laden being right under the nose of the Pakistani military, so I won’t belabor the point. This cartoon, however, hits the right tone:

President Obama will have his day[s?] in the sun over the takedown of bin Laden, and some are speculating that this will make him unbeatable in 2012. Would that be just as unbeatable as George Herbert Walker Bush in 1992 after he had a 91% approval rating in March 1991? The president still has to deal with other realities—many of his own making:

The budget issue is not going to go away. The Obama approach to the budget, which says we can wring everything we need out of the rich, has been tried before. Where does he get these ideas?

In Obamaland, corporations are inherently evil [unless they are funding his campaigns], and something must be done to ensure they “pay their fair share.” There’s only one problem with that:

Democrats are trying to make the Ryan budget invisible as well. They are not up to making the tough decisions because their philosophy of government doesn’t allow them to go there. More taxes. More spending. That is their “path to prosperity.”

It never works. Frankly, I’m not sure some of them really want it to work anyway. They’re far more interested in control than prosperity. Watch the debates as it goes forward and be alert to that possibility.

Obama vs. Ryan

Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has gone where few congressmen have dared to tread—into the thicket of budget/entitlement reform. Ryan has proposed a bold plan for revamping the way Congress handles its financial responsibilities; he calls it “The Path to Prosperity.” In it, he tackles most of the weighty problems of our massive debt and tries to show a way out of it without raising taxes. His path leads to energizing American entrepreneurship and significantly reducing the debt over the next decade. I haven’t read it yet, but I have absorbed sufficient commentary on it to know that even if I don’t agree with every part of his proposal, I can commend him for sparking what could be an extremely profitable debate. His venture into this controversial arena should be applauded.

That’s not what happened yesterday, however. President Obama gave his big speech on the debt crisis and basically trashed Ryan’s blueprint for recovery. He demagogued on the issue [is that a surprise?] by calling the plan an abandonment of the elderly, the poor, and the infirm—especially sick children—leaving them to “fend for themselves.” He then outlined his “plan” for relieving the nation of its staggering debt [five trillion of which has been added on his watch] by—are you ready for this innovative approach?—raising taxes on the “rich.”

What we were then treated to was a classic “us vs. them” stemwinder that blamed everything on the rich and pointed to the solution: taking more from them. It was as close to a Marxist, envy-laden speech as a person can get without officially declaring oneself a Marxist. For those who doubt Obama’s basic worldview, read this speech and receive an education.

Obama’s hubris was even more astounding in that he invited Ryan to be present in the audience to hear him trash the very plan Ryan has initiated. Ryan was stunned. He had expected an olive branch and was excited to be invited. That obviously didn’t happen. Afterwards, Ryan had a few choice words for the president:

What we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to addressing our country’s pressing fiscal challenges. What we heard today was not fiscal leadership from our commander-in-chief. What we heard today was a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief. … This is very sad and very unfortunate. Rather than building bridges, he’s poisoning wells. … Exploiting people’s emotions of fear, envy, and anxiety is not hope; it’s not change. It’s partisanship. We don’t need partisanship. We don’t need demagoguery. We need solutions.

As I read how Obama treated Ryan, I was reminded of one of his State of the Union addresses in which he berated the Supreme Court—while the members of that Court were sitting right in front of him. Hubris.

But what else have we come to expect from this president? He will let others take on the heavy responsibilities, then try to take credit for himself.

He’s extremely adept at playing the game:

The only problem is—this is not a game.

Taken for a Ride?

The grumbling on the Right is increasing with respect to the budget deal agreed upon last week. At first glance, it appeared that $38 billion was cut from the current budget. That, by itself, was a reduction from the $61 billion the House Republicans had passed.

It wasn’t much of a cut to begin with—consider that $4 billion gets added to the debt each day—but now it’s beginning to look even worse. More careful scrutiny of those cuts reveals most of them are a little phony. Some are budgetary sleight of hand, many are simply unspent funds from this year for certain programs that weren’t going to be spent anyway. One estimate says that only about $14 billion can be called “real” cuts.

Does this mean that the Republican House leadership under John Boehner has been taken for a ride?

I freely admit I’m more than a little disappointed in the results. Within me is a desire to cry, “Where are your principles? Why did you settle for so little?”

Yet there is another side of this that has to be taken into consideration. First, if Republicans had pushed harder, it might have led to that vaunted government “shutdown,” an action that the media would have pinned on the Republicans despite the evidence that the blame rests on the other party. Second, there is still another party in D.C. I wonder if some people have forgotten that Democrats still control the Senate and the White House. Republicans have only one-third of the components of the legislative and executive branches.

It’s a daunting task to get anything done with that kind of entrenched opposition.

Another factor to consider is that this was just the first skirmish in a long battle: coming up next are the debt ceiling debate and the new fiscal year’s budget. Even if Republicans had achieved their original goal of a $100 billion cut in expenditures, that would have been the proverbial drop in the bucket.

I’m not going to rush to judgment and declare the Republican leadership to be devoid of backbone–just yet. Let’s see what future negotiations accomplish. If something is done that deals substantially with so-called entitlements like Medicare, and if they hold the line on the debt ceiling, there is still hope.

Budget-toons

In no particular order, and with no real precise plan, I thought I’d run by you the best political cartoons dealing with Congress and the budget. Let’s get started.

I’m always amazed by how smoothly Democrats blame Republicans for everything, painting dire pictures of deprivation and untold catastrophes if Republicans ever get their way:

Democrats and Republicans obviously have different solutions to the financial crisis we face:

But maybe there is hope. Can Democrats change their ways?

That’s not very impressive. Maybe we’re missing the whole point by focusing on political parties. Maybe those most affected by policies should be our focus: