ABC News reported yesterday that Senator Harry Reid will schedule a cloture vote on the Republican Cut, Cap and Balance Bill on Saturday. The article goes on the explain that there is no chance of the bill getting through the Senate. I tend to agree with that statement–if the bill had any chance of passing, Harry Reid would make sure it never came up for a vote. What the vote on cloture will do is put Senators on the record as to who is actually serious about cutting government spending and who is not.
Dan Henniger in today’s Wall Street Journal posted a column about the debate on the budget ceiling. Mr. Henniger points out that the root of the debate has to do with the size of government:
“What Republicans and ideologically independent voters want is a GOP candidate willing–and more importantly, able–to engage Barack Obama frontally and in detail over the future of the spending commitments embedded in the events of the past three years and the past 70 years. Mr. Obama wants spending to rise to 25% of GDP to support those commitments for the next 70 years. Until we settle this and the taxes it implies, everything else a candidate may propose, such as devolving power away from Washington, is beside the point because it won’t be possible.”
Part of the Cut, Cap and Balance Bill includes the statement:
“We need statutory, enforceable caps to align federal spending with average revenues at 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with automatic spending reductions if the caps are breached.”
I don’t know if any of the principles in Cut, Cap and Balance will make the final cut, but in listening to the debate, a few things stand out. Spending cuts go against the grain of most Congressmen serving in Washington. Even if spending cuts are promised, if there is not a mechanism to ensure that they occur, they will not happen. We saw that principle at work during the Reagan years–the Democrats promised spending cuts and tax cuts–the tax cuts happened, the spending cuts never did. Unless the spending is capped as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, government will continue to grow and spending will continue to spiral out of control.
I am concerned that any budget cuts promised in the compromise that is eventually reached will never happen. Budget cuts scheduled for more than two years away, somehow disappear as the time for them draws near. All we can do is hope that there are enough grown-ups in Washington to see the severity of the budget problem and be willing to deal with it. I am not sure there are.