Why we're divided, how to overcome it

We need to send a more coherent message to our leaders, and they need to put aside their self-interest for once

We will have to raise federal revenues at some point. The budget will never be balanced without it.

But neither can it be balanced solely by raising taxes. And honestly, with the reports of rampant waste that our own government watchdogs have alerted us to, we’d be fools to hand the feds more of our money without requiring broad spending reforms first.

Meanwhile, if anyone tells you we can make ends meet without touching Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, they are lying like a Persian rug, all pretty and bold. Every expert we’ve talked to, from both the liberal and conservative persuasions and everything in-between, has told us the same thing. Common sense alone tells you something has to be done, when such “mandatory” spending accounts for nearly two-thirds of the federal budget – and when we know we have promised ourselves $60 trillion to $100 trillion in future benefits that projected federal revenues don’t cover.

 

THESE ARE the facts. They are uncontroverted. And yet, our leaders in Washington carry on as if none of this is happening. They lurch herky-jerky from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis to government shutdown deadline and get next to nothing done. The U.S. Senate hasn’t even passed a budget in over two years. Each deadline, each impasse that comes along, they wait till the last minute and then, when there’s no other choice, they run to the bank and borrow just enough to get the government by for a few months, penciling the next fiscal crisis on their calendars.

And tossing surprise and secretive spending measures in there for good measure. Precisely what the country doesn’t need.

Some of those calendars on Capitol Hill, by the way, no doubt feature breathtaking scenes of some of Washington’s great monuments – which makes you wonder: How can these people get up in the morning and drive to work or get driven by their chauffeurs and not have the sight of those inspiring monuments remind them of the awesome and urgent responsibility they’ve taken on in our behalf. It makes you ill inside if you think much about it. And it makes you understand why this Congress has the favorability rating of a flat tire on a rainy night.

 

THE FEDERAL government of the most powerful, most important country on Earth is broken, and these are the people who have broken it on their merry way to interminable careers on our backs and nice side incomes and regal retirements – all while they fritter away yours. Did you know that this and past Congresses have spent all your nest egg – and then some – in order to make their day-to-day spending look less outrageous? And that even now they’re trying to buy your silence with that sugary spending, one interest group, one lobbyist-paid round of golf at a time?

History will record that both parties share the blame for all this. While Barack Obama is the biggest spender perhaps in human history, his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, doesn’t lag far behind. And many observers wonder: Would we have spent less under a President Al Gore, who might have prompted a Republican Congress to be less complicit?

That said, the most biggest problem right now is the Democrats’ tactic of class warfare and their insistence that the key to our problem is soaking the rich. They know the numbers don’t support their case; that you could confiscate all the wealth from the so-called “1 percenters” and the omnivorous federal government wouldn’t be satiated. Rather, it’s an electoral ploy – a particularly cynical and destructive one, considering they’re willing to throw the country under the bus in order to whip up indignation for 2012.

 

LIKEWISE, REPUBLICANS at some point have to admit publicly that more revenues will be needed. A mindless “no new taxes” refrain won’t play well when the national debt is $15 trillion and climbing by the second.

Why is this rocket science?

In addition, Donald Trump, of all people, recently told an interviewer that “nobody knows” why Washington is so hopelessly divided. Nobody? Really? Good grief. We can give you several reasons off the top.

Rocket science, then, explained:

First, since 1994, the two major parties have been nearly equal in representation – after decades of monochromatic Democratic rule in Congress. Of course you’re going to get divisions!

 

SECOND, VOTERS have continued to send mixed signals about what they want. We jump back and forth between politicians and parties based largely on their likability, and without regard for their governing or fiscal philosophy. Many blame the extreme left or right for the country’s goofiness, but at least those folks know what they believe. It’s the mushy middle – unmoored by principle or ideology – who push the pendulum back and forth, depending on which pretty face or well-funded candidate seems to be on the rise. Of course you’re going to get divisions!

There’s also a huge divide in America between those who want government to redistribute wealth and those who don’t.

Then there’s the problem of careerism. These folks in Congress get re-elected and re-elected and re-elected no matter what. They learn very quickly that, however the country fares, if they just spend enough money in their states and districts – and please enough special interests to amass huge war chests – then they can enjoy the fine dining of Washington for decades.

If they were football coaches with this kind of win-loss record, they’d have been tossed out on their stumps years ago. But we can’t seem to help ourselves.

 

CAN YOU SAY “term limits”?

With both parties only playing to their base in order to get re-elected, and until Americans decide once and for all – 2012 would be a good time – what kind of country we want, loggerheads may be our lot. We just went through it again this past week.

Except for one thing. There’s one possible exit strategy.

That’s if enough members of Congress get fed up with the disaster they’ve been wallowing in and the crises they’ve been dragging us through, and rise above their own leaders to come together to get things done, no matter whom that may benefit or hurt in the coming elections.

Democrats, drop your blind allegiance to higher taxes. It’s not the time for sucking more capital out of the private sector. Take something, a prescription-strength something, for your allergic reaction to the words “spending cut.”

 

REPUBLICANS, LET it be known you’ll agree to higher revenues if the Democrats agree to substantial spending cuts. The two parties could quickly agree to trillions in deficit reduction almost overnight if they agree to a package of 90 percent spending cuts to 10 percent revenue enhancements, for instance.

Why is that rocket science?

And why can’t y’all give a little when the country is hanging in the balance?

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