The 800-pound gorilla in the argument
The whole campaign changed Saturday morning when good old boring Mitt Romney surprised everyone with what has been termed a risky choice. The risky choice is Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket.
Democrats immediately responded with thoughtful well-reasoned arguments that — OK, they didn’t. Actually, they responded by trotting out an overheated charge that Ryan is the architect of the Republican plan to kill Medicare. That old chestnut first saw light in 2011 and Politifact, a left-leaning operation, felt compelled to brand the charge the “lie of the year.” (I wonder if it can also be the lie of 2012, or is it like rookie of the year in baseball, a one-time only award?)
Andrea Mitchell’s paranoia flared up and she told us she feared for women if Ryan should be elected. (She must have been terrified during the Clinton administration.) Al Sharpton weighed in on behalf of minorities, the down trodden, the dispossessed and humanity in general, all of whom would suffer at the hands of the Republican vandals.
Pardon me if I diverge for a moment. How can MSNBC take itself seriously and have a buffoon like Sharpton on the air? His reaction to the Tiger Woods’ scandal was hilarious. When he was speaking to a group in Harlem, he asked, “Why is it that a man who calls himself black can’t bring himself to cheat on his wife with a black woman?” What does it say to young black girls everywhere when you pass them over? Shame on you, Tiger Woods. What would your daddy say?”
There you have it; MSNBC and Al Sharpton stand foursquare for affirmative action adultery. You just can’t make it up.
Behind the rhetoric, behind the charges and counter charges about the Ryan budget or Mr. Obama’s stewardship, rests the 800-pound gorilla in our budget debate. We are the brokest nation in history. We owe more than $16 trillion, and we are piling another trillion dollars on every year as far as the eye can see.
CNN reports the Government Accountability Office has some interesting projections. In the year 2020, it is projected that we will have tax receipts of $3.2 trillion. If we continue to amass deficits as we have, the budget will be divided as follows:
• Medicare: $671.7 billion
• Medicaid: $494.4 billion
• Social Security: $901.4 billion
• Interest on the debt: $901.4 billion. (Emphasis is mine.)
• All the rest: $250.7 billion.
That’s all folks; only $250.7 billion for the rest of the government and only three programs, if funded at 2012 levels, will consume the rest of the budget.
• Jobless benefits: $160 billion
• Food Stamps: $70 billion
• Welfare: $22 billion
Now, check the programs for which there is no money, the programs for which we will have to borrow money from China or whomever is willing to lend it when our paying the interest on the debt is no longer a sure thing.
The following are the programs we might not be able to fund in 2020: The Navy, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, NASA, the Army, Center for Disease Control, the Forest Service, Children’s Nutrition, FAA, Housing for the Elderly, Border Security, the Air Force, student loans, the Federal Communications Commission, the Security and Exchange Commission, the State Department, Public Housing, IRS, the Justice Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, Disaster Relief, Food Stamps, National Park Service, the White House, the Smithsonian, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Small Business Administration, Rural Development, Crop Insurance, foreign aid programs, the National Science Foundation, Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Federal Courts, the Department of Justice, FBI, the Department of Veterans Affairs, FEMA, Congress, Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the Peace Corps, Disaster Relief, income assistance, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Prison System, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Interior Department, the State Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey. There are dozens more but this should give you the idea of what we are facing.
Think you might miss a few of those?
Of course, you say, we can continue to borrow the money necessary to fund all the programs we want. Not so fast: the Government Accountability Office also projects that if we continue to spend at the current rate, the government will shut down by 2027. That means the people who lend money, especially the Chinese, will likely have lost confidence in our ability to continue to pay even the interest on the debt without printing money and bringing on hyperinflation.
Worse, the signs of decay are undeniable. Obama claims to have created 2.6 million jobs in the last three years. (Actually, he didn’t. Some business owners did but that’s another column for another time.) During the same period, more than 2.4 million more Americans entered the job market. We are just marking time. Even worse, in the same period, 3.1 million Americans signed on for disability. Obama probably didn’t do that either but whatever the reason, we are becoming disabled faster than we’re becoming employed.
Mark Steyn now refers to American as “Dependistan.” I think “Denialstan” is more appropriate. We face an existential threat created by a government bigger than we can afford, making promises we can’t keep, to citizens who seem unaware that the government is not an unlimited source of largess.
Whether or not the public is aware, the 800-pound gorilla patiently waits for the moment when we have to acknowledge his presence in the room.
Note: A San Francisco reader thinks I want to turn the clock back to 1900. Only half right, sir. I want to turn it back to 1962 when John Kennedy lowered taxes to spur the economy and talked of the hurtful effect of too many government regulations.