No Time to Go Wobbly

The media has trained its lenses on turmoil in the Middle East and turmoil in Wisconsin. Nearly forgotten in this fascination with all things Qaddafi and public-sector-unions is the fact that the federal government has some tough decisions ahead.

Remember that $3 trillion-plus budget the president presented not long ago? Is that really the beginning of what he terms an “adult conversation”?

How about starting with a proposal that is truly adult first? Of course, there are some people who don’t mind this budget, and who actually see it as a excellent step in the right direction:

Republicans are calling for deep cuts in discretionary spending, and are seeking Democrat allies:

Let’s just say they haven’t been easy to find—and that’s on discretionary spending. What will it be like when they tackle entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare?

It’s going to take a lot of backbone on the part of Republicans to make a dent in this:

An allied problem is whether the American electorate will overcome its divided thinking:

It’s not the politicians only who have to develop nerves of steel. They are going to need help from those who put them in their positions. As Margaret Thatcher told the first President Bush as he debated his actions in the Persian Gulf War, “Remember, George, this is no time to go wobbly.” The same advice needs to be forcefully presented to the American electorate.

Making Matters Worse

It’s huge. It’s mind-boggling. It’s the Obama administration’s new budget proposal. A decidedly non-conservative source—the Associated Press—warned,

Not since World War II has the federal budget deficit made up such a big chunk of the U.S. economy. And within two or three years, economists fear the result could be sharply higher interest rates that would slow economic growth.

What led the AP to issue such a dramatic prognosis? The new Obama budget calls for a record deficit of $1.65 trillion this year. The AP continues,

That would be just under 11 percent of the $14 trillion economy—the largest proportion since 1945, when wartime spending swelled the deficit to 21.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

The deficit is getting to the point where it’s virtually out of control:

Ah, but not to fear, we’re told there are spending cuts contained within:

Here’s another way to illustrate it:

Republicans have rejected the Obama budget outright, saying it’s not really dealing with the problem. Will they have a better approach? Will they have the stomach to do what’s necessary to get this under control, which includes entitlement reform? I remain hopeful. Even if they don’t do everything they should, it ought to be better than what the president has proposed:

Yet the Obama administration refuses to yield on the idea that massive spending is required to pull us out of the recession. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said yesterday that it would be a mistake to stop “investing” in the economy. Of course, “investing” has been given a brand new definition lately:

This is economic lunacy. Republicans now have to inject a sense of responsibility into the process. Both sides are talking about having an adult conversation on the economy. If this is what Obama calls an adult conversation, it appears the Republicans are going to have to talk to themselves.

The Economy & the Political Will

The budget battle looms. Debate over how to reinvigorate the economy is ongoing. At least now the Republicans have a voice in this debate and can have an effect on the budget. If they make their case well, they can frame it in a way most Americans will grasp. They actually have a lot going for them, considering the president’s track record:

In his State of the Union Address, Obama kept talking about “investing.” He repeated that theme when speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the other day. Some translation, though, is necessary when he uses certain terms:

If he continues to have his way, we’re going to have to revise the charts we use to gauge the deficit:

Or build larger rooms.

And who can forget the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in that room—the one nobody wishes to touch?

Unless we’re willing to tackle the entitlements, all the debate will be for nothing. Bold moves are necessary. Is there enough political will to make those moves?