Wrangling over a shutdown

Wrangling over a shutdown

April 7th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

By the time you read this, President Barack Obama and Democrats and Republicans in Congress may have reached an agreement to prevent a partial shutdown of the federal government on Friday. Or they may still be battling over whether to implement Democrats' slight cuts in spending or Republicans' bigger cuts.

Whatever the case, it is important to remember that even if no deal is struck, vital government services will continue. Social Security checks will go out, for instance, and our military will still function. Less vital facilities, such as national parks and passport offices, would close.

It is sad that we have reached this point. Our $14 trillion national debt makes it clear our country is headed toward catastrophe if we do not control spending. We are already paying hundreds of billions of dollars each year just in interest on the debt. That is money taken from the economy at the very time we need job creation.

Some demand higher taxes to close the budget gap. But it is irrational, when tax revenues already exceed $2 trillion, to claim the American people are not taxed enough. And history proves Congress will spend any new money it gets.

The Democrats' current call for $33 billion in cuts may seem substantial, but it is woefully inadequate in the face of a deficit that this year alone is over $1.5 trillion. The GOP-run House passed an also inadequate $61 billion in cuts, but the Democrat Senate rejected even that plan.

The president and his allies in Congress hope blame will fall on Republicans if there is a shutdown. But with the president's proposed budget for next year calling for tens of billions of dollars in spending on things such as impractical high-speed rail, it is clear that he and the Democrats are behaving irresponsibly. The American people should hold them accountable for that.