There is no question that there are serious issues with the federal budget; spending is out of control, the deficit is above a trillion dollars, and entitlements are quickly moving towards unsustainable levels. What is more difficult to answer is why these problems have not been addressed. The Simpson Bowles Debt Commission and the debt talks between President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner are two great tangible examples of how meaningful discussion on the issues turned into chaotic partisan rhetoric with no answers.
While it is difficult to wade through the partisan politics and cheap points being made by ideological pundits, one non-partisan fact is that President Obama is failing as a leader. The President has seemingly given up hope for passing a budget he presented. For all his criticism of the House and Paul Ryan’s budget, his own last budget proposal received zero votes in the Senate. The President has a responsibility to show leadership on the budget. His proposal failed to attract any votes in the Senate controlled by his own party, which is a lack of leadership.
It is no mystery why the partisan rhetoric and unrealistic budgets are presented. Once it gets to the point where each party knows meaningful debate is over and the chances of cooperation are gone, all talk of compromise disappears. There is no point in sacrificing political credibility with your base by talking about compromises that would be unpopular to your interest groups if it is not going to happen. So we have to look deeper beyond into the unsaid messages.
To really get an understanding beyond that of the blame game, one must look at the actions and proposals by each party. By examining past Presidents and budget fights we can come to better understand what is different about this particular congress and President on the issues of budgeting. The Simpson-Bowls proposals were not that radical and had significant bi-partisan support. Why didn’t any of the proposals keep moving forwards?
Americans cannot continue to keep pushing these mounting problems down the road. More responsible budgets must be passed, and that process starts with the President. The Meaningful discussions and ideas put forth by the Debt Commission needs to become ground to bring parties together more. These discussions start with conversations. Divisive rhetoric to pump up the base needs to be cut down, so ideas can presented by all sides and debated for on merit.
Eric Stormer – Gannon University