Balancing the Federal Budget

It is always dangerous to blog when upset, but I will take the risk now so as to not subject my poor wife to further rants.

I have just finished the process of watching the President's State of the Union address. I want to focus on two sentences from that address that raised my ire.

The President, and Congress during his presidency, have been an abysmal failure when it comes to control of the Federal debt and balancing the Federal budget. As the non-partisan Concord Coalition, for whom I have volunteered in the past as New York State Field Director and State Director put it succinctly, "[t]he outgoing GOP [Congressional] leadership is taking with them a budget record marked by loss of vision and gridlock, capped this year by the near-total breakdown of the budget process itself." The impact of this massive capitulation and failure in leadership is profound. Again, to succinctly quote Concord Coalition: "Every dollar of debt is a dollar that our children will see in higher taxes, decreased spending, or reduced economic growth."

Now the President states that we should balance the Federal budget. This is a laudable goal. Then the President's whopper: "We can do this without raising taxes. [applause]. What we need is spending discipline in Washington D.C. [more applause]" Indeed, the President is not wrong, but it is the "we can" part of the first sentence that causes concern. The "spending discipline" needed to balance our Federal budget, much less without raising taxes, appears, to put it mildly, beyond any reasonable measure of the will of most of our elected officials in Congress or the White House.

Every member of Congress that applauded either of the above-quoted statements by the President should now be prepared to make tough choices. For those who applauded both, I look forward to their detailed, careful and thoughtful weighing of competing priorities -- and their ability to explain to their constituencies how that careful weighing will result in a balanced budget that will benefit all in the near term. These are very tough budgeting choices to make, especially where balancing the budget is to be done without raising taxes beyond current levels.

Is the above too much to reasonably expect? I suspect that it is. But yet, the words of the President and the approval of so many members of Congress would seem to suggest that -- if the President's words and Congress' applause mean anything -- they are ready to make these tough decisions. For what it's worth, they have my wholehearted support in commencing and completing that monumental task.

Next week, God willing, my wife and I will greet a healthy baby boy. My prayer is that he will enter a world where political expediency is pushed aside and true economic leadership re-emerges. I am not holding by breath, but for his sake, and the sake of all of this nation's children, I sincerely hope that I am wrong.

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