TO TERRY - In fact, according to certain senators, Congress will never pay for government. This morning, Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, appeared on TV and said "Medicare is going broke... any plan must not limit growth. We can't raise taxes with high unemployment." That's what the Republicans told us in 1993. Rather than listening to this growth nonsense, we cut spending and raised taxes without a single Republican vote to provide for eight years of the nation's strongest economy and a balanced budget.
Another political stance that limits governing is highlighting programs that are in surplus and screaming that they can go broke. They ignore the budget that is already broke; been running in the red for eleven years; no debate on paying for government; only debating programs that are paid for and will need to be paid for in the future. Mayors and governors always pay for government each year. If the mayor or governor said "We must not limit growth," they would catch him with a net and put him away. According to CBO, at the end of this fiscal year, Medicare will have a surplus of $316 billion, and Social Security will have a surplus of $2.7 trillion. CBO says Medicare will go broke in 2024 and Social Security will go broke in 2036. Yet all the debate is about Medicare and Social Security going bankrupt today; debating "plans to pay down the debt," "failsafe provisions," which leaves future Congresses to pay; never paying for this year's government. Mention paying for this year's government, and the opposition immediately howls: "You are for big government." The politics of campaigning has really taken over the politics of governing, and the trouble is the media plays the same game. As long as this is all the public knows, nothing gets done. If I had Roger Ailes' job, we could really get this country moving.
P.S. This morning's column by E. J. Dionne is a good example. He writes: "'This House will not support tax hikes. House Majority leader, Eric Cantor, said flatly this week.'" Dionne writes: "No revenue is essential to balancing the federal budget in the long run." He should be writing: "Revenue is essential to paying for government this year."