It's going to take more

Taming federal spending will require a convergence of factors

The scandal-ridden, Vegas-partying, tax-wasting General Services Administration was told by a senator this week that “the party’s over.”

But is it?

We’ve seen Congress get mad before. We’ve seen detailed reports of outrageous government spending come and go. Yet, the outrages only seem to get worse – though it’s hard to imagine much worse than the GSA’s party in Vegas, the multiple “scouting” trips that preceded it, the 17-day Asian excursion by one GSA official and his wife, and the videos in which GSA employees yuck it up about blowing our money with impunity.

Hopefully that impunity will burst; we’d really like to see some criminal charges.

But the truth is, reining in federal spending for any amount of time at any agency will require more than the short-term bluster of congressmen and senators who are itching to make someone else look bad for a change.

It’s going to take a president and congressional leadership who understand what public service really means, and who take a machete to the overgrown federal budget. The current president promised to, line item by line item. What a crock! Instead, Mr. Obama has become the first president in history to ring up $5 trillion in debt – more than every other president combined in the country’s first 219 years.

It will also require a news media that don’t reflexively support unquestioned government spending, as the media do today. They trumpet the so-called “Buffett Rule” for higher taxes on the rich without the least bit of curiosity as to how that money will be spent.

The “mainstream” media have become the biggest and loudest special-interest group in the nation’s history. Some of us at The Chronicle are just old enough to remember when the news media’s mission was to question authority, not rubber stamp its budget requests.

It will also require that the news media have a little discipline and focus – a game plan, as it were. They may start talking about government waste when a GSA-style scandal erupts, but then they drop everything the first second a pretty blonde goes missing somewhere. Or they do their best to demonize conservatives for proposing to save the ship and all the passengers on board by doing a little bailing of water.

Lastly, trimming the toenails of the federal goliath will require forbearance and strength and courage of the American public, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the patriotic days of World War II – when selfless and steadfast countrymen sacrificed for the good of the whole.

When was the last time a president actually asked us to do that?

And could such a statesman ever be elected again?

Until then, they’ll lay low, and when they figure Congress and the media and the taxpayers have gone on to other things, the party will be back on.

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