The opposite of what we need

Barrow's grandstanding must not shield us from painful truth

U.S. Rep. John Barrow’s office didn’t like our editorial cartoon Sunday, which depicted his recent “furlough exemption” bill as largely an attempt to just make him look good.

They’ll probably like this editorial even less.

“Guaranteed to make you feel better ... about me!” the cartoon has Barrow saying, holding a bottle of “John Barrow’s Re-election Furlough Exemption Placebo Pills.”

Barrow, a Democrat representing the Augusta area, has filed a bill that would exempt civilian workers from the 11 furlough days the Pentagon instituted to save money under the “sequestration” budget cuts that went into effect earlier this year. The furloughs went into effect last week.

We not only stand by Rick McKee’s cartoon, but we’ll go one better.

We’ve never known a politician who was more focused on positioning himself politically – also known as pandering – or one who was better at it. Mr. Barrow has to recognize his bill has no chance. Sequestration cuts have been well underway for months, most famously at the White House itself.

Moreover, he is a minority member of the House, where he ranks 175th in seniority, according to Roll Call. He simply doesn’t have the clout to swim upstream.

But doggone it, he’ll look good doing it for the cameras! His ploy may curry favor with government employees and with unsuspecting others, but it’s little more than grandstanding.

Yet, we’ll go further than call him out on his pandering. It’s also contrary to the public good.

This country’s No. 1 problem, and the biggest existential threat to our nation, is the national debt and the runaway payroll train that is federal spending. It begets a creeping dependency and complacency that erodes industriousness and self-reliance. It makes people believe there’s something for nothing. And it risks collapsing the currency and the economy someday.

It is inarguable that such deficit spending cannot go on forever. Our federal government borrows 40 cents of every dollar. What happens when the gravy train derails?

We are not unsympathetic to the plight of government workers. Private-sector employees have been laid off and furloughed, and have suffered pay reductions without commensurate time off. We feel your pain.

But that pain is nothing compared to what we’ll all feel when the day of reckoning arrives – when the laws of economics land on us with a thud as surely as the law of gravity would.

Furlough days are only the start of what needs to happen. Entire agencies and departments of this government should be shorn. This leviathan has grown miles beyond what the Constitution envisioned – especially when the 10th Amendment specifically ordered when it said “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Is there anyone who can argue that amendment is being followed?

So, for a congressman to send out vibes that we can avoid the pain of government downsizing? That’s just harmful to the body politic. It’s reprehensible, and just the opposite of what we need right now, which is leaders who will tell us the painful truth.

We shouldn’t care what congressmen look like. What matters is what the country’s future looks like.

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