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:

Leadership [?]

The dreaded government shutdown [“slowdown” would be a more accurate term] has been prevented. Although it still needs to be formally approved by the Congress, a deal to fund the government through September, which means to the end of this fiscal year, is now in place. Along the way, another $38 billion will be cut from the current budget. Since Democrats still consider protecting abortion to be more important than almost anything else, the battle to defund Planned Parenthood will have to be taken up again in the new budget for next year.

Well, at least all those non-essential personnel will be able to keep their jobs.

That guy obviously thinks too much.

President Obama may now continue to focus on leading the Free World:

He can also concentrate his efforts on his greatest challenge:

He can point to his many successes:

Will it fly?

Budget Battles–Now & Later

The Republican House passed a continuing resolution that will keep the government operating one more week and fund the military for the rest of the year, to ensure that those in harm’s way are not treated like dirt. The Democrat Senate, however, refuses to follow suit. If there is a shutdown, just who is to blame here? If logic applies at all, most citizens ought to be disgusted with the Democrat leadership.

While Republicans are attempting to deal responsibly with the budget issue, Democrats are once again playing politics—the same accusation President Obama launched against the Republicans. Harry Reid’s heroic effort to save the Cowboy Poetry funding appears to have impeded progress:

As Republicans work to put out the fiscal fire, their actions are being interpreted differently:

I’m still trying to figure out just what the Democratic plan for taking care of the national debt might be. Since they have offered no real plan, what is their fallback position?

This current budget battle is for this fiscal year only. As I noted in yesterday’s post, the only reason this is still an issue is that the Democrat-controlled Congress refused to pass a budget by last October. Once we finally get this behind us, the next budget battle will begin. Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin, has drafted a detailed plan to tackle the deficit over the next decade. It even enters the field of entitlements, showing the way to rework the entire Medicare and Medicaid systems. He has something that a lot of politicians lack:

The only question now is whether he and his Republican supporters will get a fair hearing for this plan. The House certainly will consider it seriously, and make any amendments it deems necessary, but will the Senate, under Harry Reid, even bother to look at it? It’s not difficult to predict its future in that body. Hopefully, down the road, after the next election has tossed Sen. Reid from his exalted position, we can move forward. It’s a shame, though, that we’ll have to wait that long.

That Looming Shutdown

A government shutdown looms. Some questions that we should be asking: how did we get to this place? why is it happening now? so what if it does happen? Let’s begin with the first question.

The budget was supposed to have been passed by last October. Let’s see, who was in charge of Congress at that time? Ah yes, total control by the Democrats. They had the House, the Senate, and the presidency. So why didn’t they pass a budget? Could it have been that the election was too near for comfort and they didn’t want to be held accountable for their profligate spending? They punted, and here we are.

The problem now is that the Republicans control the House while the Democrats continue to run the Senate. What has transpired since that change? Well, the House Republicans passed a budget proposal. What has the Senate done? Nothing. And in the “newspeak” of our political times, that means the Republicans are to blame. If that doesn’t make sense to you, join the crowd. While Republicans are busy taking aim at the overspending, the Democrats seem to have a different target:

Republicans were the ones who led the charge to keep the government running over the last few months with continuing resolutions. Yet Republicans, and the Tea Party advocates that support them, receive the “extremist” label for wanting budget cuts. Just how extreme are those proposed cuts?

My, but that hurts! Careful, the country might bleed to death. Old people will be thrown out in the streets. Children won’t have anything to eat. At least that’s what Nancy Pelosi predicts.

But let’s get serious. Democrats don’t really want to cut anything; they believe all good things come only through government spending. Further, they are ideologically bound to oppose the type of cuts proposed—such as defunding Planned Parenthood. There is talk of a filibuster to stop that effort. The Republicans’ quandary?

Dire predictions accompany the threat of a shutdown, but just how dire is it really?

It’s all about making Republicans look bad. Yet if you stop and think about it, any shutdown would actually get us much closer to the limits placed on the federal government in the Constitution. If we could stay shut down long enough, that $14 trillion debt would eventually disappear. Have we found a new strategy?

Enjoy Your Saturday

It’s not really my intention to turn each Saturday into a cartoon-fest, but if you consider that bothersome, you can always go somewhere else on the Net—there’s a whole world that awaits.

But for those of you who choose to stay with me today, here’s my tribute to really well done political analysis via illustration. Let’s focus today on the many wonderful policies emanating from this administration and their consequences.

Obamacare, of course, has been the highlight of the past year. Have you read that there are now more than 1000 waivers that have been granted? If you need that many waivers, is it at all conceivable that the legislation is pretty awful to being with?

Energy policy has been gearing up lately. Obama is a strong proponent of green technology. Where will that lead?

If you don’t mind, I’d rather not go there. Of course, we can always do nuclear power, but everyone seems to be afraid of it after the Japan earthquake:

It would be nice to get our “fear priorities” straight. Continuing with the nuclear theme:

Why, we can’t cut programs, we’re told—they are all so effective. In what dream world might that be?

Even NPR is sacrosanct:

If you’re not sure what’s good for you, your friendly neighborhood progressive will be only too happy to inform you.

Enjoy your Saturday.

The Executive Branch Revisited

It’s time once again to make the rounds of political cartoons, this time dealing with how President Obama carries out the duties of his office. For instance, remember that gargantuan budget proposal not too long ago? It was ripe for humor.

Then there’s the Obama administration’s approach to enforcing the law. Two cartoonists picked up on this one:

That last one could be used in our elementary schools to enlighten our children on the checks and balances built into the system.

Then there was the president speaking to governors recently and telling them they could choose to opt out of his healthcare law in 2014:

Of course, what he didn’t say is that the only opt-out available is if the states have their own system that duplicates the requirements of the federal law. Where’s the opt-out part again? I think I missed that.

What it really comes down to is that President Obama has one actual strength when it comes to politics: