The Trestle is Still Out

Even if yesterday send some sort of message, it wasn’t enough and it was way too late. TARP, socialized medicine, the GM takeover, the unsustainable debt, and the reality that we are not going to stop spending all means that there will be a crash.

Even CBS News sees the problem in front of the new Congress, although this article seems more amused than alarmed by the reality before us.

It won’t be easy. Consider the promises of Utah’s Mike Lee, who said at one point he thought it necessary to cut federal spending by 40 percent to balance the budget. It’s nearly impossible to imagine how this could happen.

Here’s why: In 2010, 20 percent of the $3.6 trillion federal budget went to defense, 20 percent to Social Security and 21 percent to Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. While lawmakers could potentially make some cuts to these programs, they simply aren’t going to try to cut them completely — unless they’re looking to commit mass political suicide. (Even perhaps the most unapologetic Tea Party candidate, Nevada’s Sharron Angle, retreated from her early promise to phase out Social Security during the campaign.)

Let’s be generous and say Republicans would try to cut five percent of the budget from these areas next year. That means almost all of the remaining budget would need to be cut to meet that 40 percent threshold. That includes interest on the national debt, which is six percent of the budget and which America presumably needs to pay.

So, in spite of the efforts of the Democrats to keep everyone else out, some Republicans and a few Tea Party candidates have made it to the controls. If there isn’t an immediate concerted effort, not just to slow this train, but to first stop it and then reverse direction, we will still crash. It might take a little longer, but it really won’t matter if we wreck at 57 miles an hour or 70, will it? The trestle is out, continuing in the direction we are going at any speed will eventually take us over the edge. Whatever has to be cut from the budget, cut it. Social programs, foreign aid, the travel budget for the White House, Nancy Pelosi’s private jet, whatever. Slam on the brakes like you can see the open water in front of the train. Otherwise, all we did yesterday was play musical chairs in the caboose.

Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.
–Pr. Dwight Eisenhower