Since the start of 2014, Washington has passed three laws that further worsened America’s crumbling financial circumstances. The farm bill, the debt ceiling increase, and the budget deal were all given bipartisan support even though each failed the test of fiscal responsibility.
All three passed, according to a number of political observers, as a result of the partial government shutdown in October.
These observers include National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher. According to Goldmacher, however, the shutdown was beneficial – to everyone in the Beltway, that is. Goldmacher says the President and Senate Democrats broke the back of conservatives in Congress, House Democrats raised money, Speaker Boehner gained the respect of conservatives in his caucus Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) became a household name, and Tea Party-affiliated groups like Senate Conservatives Fund raised money and got e-mail addresses for future fundraising campaigns.
The only special interest Goldmacher forgot about is the average American. He specifically went on to praise the results of the shutdown because it led to the passage of the three aforementioned bills:
The shutdown renewed Washington’s hand-wringing about gridlock, but the gears of government have actually begun to turn more efficiently ever since. Congress passed its first bipartisan budget in years. The long-stalled farm bill reached the president’s desk. And playing chicken with the debt limit, which had left the markets frustrated, gave way to a relatively drama-free lifting of the borrowing cap in February.
In Washington, passing legislation counts as success. Like many, though, Goldmacher ignores that legislation should pass a quality control test before passage.
Consider the farm bill. It spends over $950 billion – far more than its predecessor, the 2008 farm bill – and those costs have grown enormously over the last decade-and-a-half. This is especially true with regards to food stamps, regardless of recessions. In fact, despite how the nation has been out of the last recession for nearly five years, food stamps continue to be enormously expensive.
Crop insurance and direct subsidies are the other part of the farm bill, and they boil down to largely being subsidies for rich farmers. Which means the farm bill is full of welfare for people all across the income spectrum, something this country can scant afford.
Regarding the “bipartisan budget,” this is the same budget deal that neutered the sequester – which means Congress is now officially ignoring a modest budget restraint law it passed only 2.5 years ago. And despite Goldmacher’s sideline cheering about bipartisan hand-holding, it was revealed this week that Senate Democrats aren’t going to pass a budget in 2014.
I’ll take a fight over fiscal responsibility – say, tax reform (which House Republicans brought forth this week) and entitlement reform – over Kumbaya and skyrocketing budgets any day.
Which brings us to the debt ceiling. Goldmacher cheers the “relatively drama-free” increase, but Americans should be concerned that once again Congress gave way to more irresponsible spending rather than enforce even a modicum of fiscal restraint in raising the debt ceiling.
Again, I’ll take constructive drama over destructive groupthink.
Last month, the Treasury Department and the Congressional Budget Office warned that America’s financial situation is getting increasingly worse, with risks to the economy, jobs, wages, and retirement benefits. People like Goldmacher should be informing the American people of these facts, not cheerleading the Beltway into leading the nation into self-inflicted fiscal collapse.
Simply put, the partial federal shutdown was a disastrous tactical maneuver for fiscal conservatives, and continues to be a disaster for the American people. The fact that the Beltway crowd gained in exchange for trillions of unaffordable spending is just one way the shutdown – which happened nearly six months ago – continues to damage America’s future.
Dustin Siggins is the Washington, D.C. Correspondent for Lifesitenews.com and formerly the primary blogger with Tea Party Patriots. He is a co-author of the forthcoming book, Bankrupt Legacy: The Future of the Debt-Paying Generation. His work has been published by numerous online and print publications, including USA Today, Roll Call, Hot Air, Huffington Post, Mediaite, and First Things.