President Obama is calling on Congress to repeal a series of spending cuts he signed into law. He is invoking a spirit of bipartisanship and asking that his original cuts be replaced with smaller ones. I will call this what it is; backdoor spending increases disguised as cuts. Tactically it’s brilliant, as long as you don’t mind the whole lying and dishonesty thing. Though since none of these cuts are really cuts, they are just reductions in the level of growth, both sides are being dishonest; Obama is just taking it to the next level.
On March 1 of 2013 a series of mandatory cuts are set to take effect. The cuts fall mostly on defense spending but a number are spread around other areas of government. This “sequestration” , as it is called, was part of a deal Obama struck with Congressional Republicans over increasing the debt limit last year. Now Obama is saying the defense cuts, which he demanded, will have disastrous effects on our military. With this as has leverage, he wants all the cuts repealed.
Congressional Republicans are responding that massive entitlement reform and spending reductions are needed to avert a looming financial meltdown. They are calling on Obama to stop raiding vital defense spending to spare bloated social programs. The public remains skeptical, probably because for all their talk, Republicans have not proposed a budget that attacks the deficit in any meaningful way for at least a decade. Even the Ryan budget, which I think is a great start, doesn’t reduce spending nearly enough.
Most of these budget and deficit battles are essentially Kabuki Theater. Whatever President Obama may say, he wants to cut defense to the bone for ideological reasons and because he distrusts American military power in the world. He wants that money for what he believes is more important; a greatly expanded dependency and social welfare state of the kinds currently being found unsustainable and dismantled in Europe.
Republican see defense as essential and Constitutionally mandated, which is true; but realistically they have difficulty separating wasteful defense projects from essential defense spending. They tend to view the expanded social welfare state as wasteful, ripe for fraud and abuse and poorly administered. Republicans do talk realistically about the impending disaster in Social Security and Medicare, but outside of using the issue to attack Democrats they have not done much about it.
That is where everyone stands and anything else they say is just spin for public consumption. It is a sad state of affairs because we desperately need real fiscal reform across the entire federal budget. From corporate welfare disguised as defense spending to the vote buying schemes disguised as federal entitlements. The whole thing needs to be examined and few are taking the problem serious enough. They are just arguing for position ahead of the next election.