A former co-worker of mine was a big guy. He stood about 6’ 2” and must have weighed about 280 pounds. He told me one day that he had started a new diet and was proud of the fact that he lost 20 pounds. When he told his dad, his father’s comment was that it was like losing the hub cap off a bus, meaning 20 pounds was virtually nothing compared to what he needed to lose. Being overweight myself, I’ve never forgot that analogy.
When I read the reports of the new compromised budget deal worked out by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), it reminded me of the hub cap analogy. Only in this case, the entire bus needs to be stripped down the frame, but all they are willing to remove is a single little hub cap.
In the deal they worked out, the federal government will cut $23 billion from the federal deficit of almost $17 trillion. That’s a reduction of 0.14%. In November 2013, the US accrued $22.3 billion in just interest alone on the national debt. The fiscal year that just ended on September 30, the total interest on the national debt added up to a whopping $415.7 billion.
Our Washington DC politicians are standing proud on hammering out a budget that barely cuts one month’s worth of interest from the national debt. Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee commented on their momentous compromise saying:
“This budget is a step in the right direction. It is a clear improvement on the status quo.”
“It cuts taxes in a smarter way — and it reduces the deficit without raising taxes.”
How will it reduce the deficit when the interest alone is 12 times what they are cutting?
Murray was probably smirking inside at their victory over Republican conservatives who wanted large cuts, when she commented:
“We have broken through the partisanship and the gridlock, and we have reached a deal. Over the past few years, we have lurched from crisis to crisis.”
Their new deal will establish a federal budget for the next two years, avoiding any more fiscal cliffs or government shutdowns through 2014 and 15. However, January 1, 2016 may be another story that we’ll have to wait to see what happens.
The non-partisan compromise, which is a huge victory for Democrats and anything but non-partisan, is expected to meet the scrutiny of House Republicans and be passed by them. Getting it though the Democratic controlled Senate is a no brainer and President Obama has already said that if the bill reaches his desk unchanged, he will gladly sign it. That alone should tell Republicans just how bad and how compromised the bill is if Obama is ready and anxious to sign it.
So far, at least one prominent Republican sees the Ryan/Murray budge plan for what it is and says he is opposed to it. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued a statement saying:
“We need a government with less debt and an economy with more good paying jobs, and this budget fails to accomplish both goals, making it harder for more Americans to achieve the American Dream. Instead, this budget continues Washington’s irresponsible budgeting decisions by spending more money than the government takes in and placing additional financial burdens on everyday Americans.”
“In the short run, this budget also cancels earlier spending reductions instead of making some tough decisions about how to tackle our long-term fiscal challenges caused by runaway Washington spending. I voted against sequestration because of its effect on key programs, including the defense budget, but higher spending and more revenue are not the appropriate ways to address that problem.”
I hope and pray that there are enough other Republicans in the House and Senate that agree with Rubio and see the bill for what it is and vote against it, but somehow I doubt that will happen. Most likely they are going to be satisfied to take just one hub cap off the fiscal bus when the entire bus needs to stripped down to the frame and call it a success, not realizing that they’ve accomplished very little.