You know, men who would dare to balance the federal budget within 10-28 years, who would ravage federal programs with modest slow-downs in their increased spending, who would bend cost curves to the breaking point…like, four degrees or so. Joel Gehrke reports:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed misgivings about the efficacy of President Obama’s so-called “charm offensive,” saying that House Republicans seem “at war with [their] own government.”
“By and large, the approach the Republicans take is that they are there to shrink the role of government to the point where it really recalls to mind a statement of President Washington who cautioned about a political party at war with its own government,” Pelosi told reporters today in response to a question about the charm offensive.
Now that you’ve heard about the radicalism of Republicans, check out the modest goals of Democrats:
As for Democrats, Pelosi said that “we don’t want any more government than we need, but we respect the public role: public private partnerships, and putting a referee on the field . . . to monitor clean air, clean water, food safety; a cop on the beat for the protection of our neighborhoods.”
Here’s the real radicalism. If you ever need to know how committed Washington Democrats are to maintaining the current levels of spending their attendant increases, please refer to this quote. Just as with sequester, everything useful the federal government does manages to fall in the gap between the Democrats’ outrageously irresponsible budget (or, in years past, Obama speeches about budgets) and Ryan’s attempts at sanity. It is Nancy Pelosi’s belief, explicitly, that anything less than what exists at this very moment would be less “government than we need,” would disrespect the “public role,” and take the referee off the field and cops off the beat.
That idea is borne out, if vaguely, in the long-awaited budget from Senate Democrats, released this week. Phil Klein:
In theory, the plan authored by Senate Budget Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray claims to cut spending by about $975 billion from fiscal years 2014 through 2023. That includes $240 billion in defense cuts accounting for the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, $240 billion in claimed “responsible savings across domestic spending” and $275 billion in Medicare savings from “further realigning incentives throughout the system, cutting waste and fraud, and seeking greater engagement across the health care system.” The budget also assumes interest payment savings.
The problem is that these paper spending cuts are more than offset by the proposal to spend $960 billion to replace the automatic sequestration spending cuts as well as the $100 billion in new stimulus spending.
The deficit reduction that does exist comes in the form of tax increases. The budget says, it, “Achieves $975 billion in deficit reduction by closing loopholes and eliminating wasteful spending in the tax code that benefits the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.” But it doesn’t specify which loopholes will be closed.
The plan also offers no specific, broader reforms to the nation’s entitlement programs.
Ezra Klein notes the budget is awfully preoccupied with what it’s protecting and not what it might actually do to change anything.
The budget speaks of “$275 billion in savings by further realigning incentives throughout the system, cutting waste and fraud, and seeking greater engagement across the health care system,” but at no point across its 114 pages does it name these savings. There’s talk of building on the Affordable Care Act’s efforts, but few specifics.
Similarly, the tax reform section is a lengthy defense of the need for more tax revenues, and the idea of closing loopholes, but in the end, it punts on the specifics, saying simply that ”the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax legislation, could generate this additional revenue through a variety of different methods.”
If the budget is vague about what it would change, it is specific and effusive about what it will keep. A tremendous amount of the budget document is, in fact, an appreciation of what the federal government is already doing.
Everyone’s budget is a political document, but the one released by Senate Democrats is clearly calculated, not to bolster the country’s finances, but to bolster the ludicrous claims of politicians like Pelosi.