A Different Perspective

On Monday, Peter Beinart posted an article at the Daily Beast about the recent government shutdown with a different perspective than we have heard in the past few days.

Mr. Beinart believes that the shutdown is a Republican victory. He states:

Republicans, being less supportive of federal spending on things like “education, energy and medical research,” were more supportive of the sequester. Indeed, as recently as last month, GOP leaders described locking in the sequester cuts—via a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) that extended them into 2014—as a major victory. In a memo to fellow Republicans on September 6, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor boasted that by “signing a CR at sequester levels, the President would be endorsing a level of spending that wipes away all the increases he and Congressional Democrats made while they were in charge and returns us to a pre-2008 level of discretionary spending.”

…It’s not just that Obama looks likely to accept the sequester cuts as the basis for future budget negotiations. It’s that while he’s been trying to reopen the government and prevent a debt default, his chances of passing any significant progressive legislation have receded. Despite overwhelming public support, gun control is dead. Comprehensive immigration reform, once considered the politically easy part of Obama’s second term agenda, looks unlikely. And the other items Obama trumpeted in this year’s state of the union address—climate change legislation, infrastructure investment, universal preschool, voting rights protections, a boost to the minimum wage—have been largely forgotten.

The end of the shutdown was not a Republican victory–generally speaking, they caved. However, if we have successfully moved the point of baseline budgeting back to pre-TARP levels, that is wonderful. For anyone who is not familiar with baseline budgeting, it is the procedure Washington used to increase spending while claiming that they have cut the budget. If a department’s budget was going to increase 10 percent and only increases 5 percent, that is considered a cut. They are still spending more, but it is considered a cut.

Fiscal responsibility should not be a political issue. Both parties need to realize that we cannot go on printing money forever. I am glad that the shutdown is over and that the World War II veterans will again be able to visit their memorial, but fiscal sanity needs to come to America.

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