Michele Bachmann (and I) call it “gangster government.” The Washington Post calls it “three-Pinocchio” government, assigning the Democrats’ most recent budget claims a credibility rating of roughly You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me. Seriously: Even the Washington by-God Post is getting the message about Fiscal Armageddon.
At issue are Democratic claims that they are offering the Republicans a meaningful compromise on spending cuts, that they are meeting them “halfway.” Which, as the Post points out, is true, if your baseline is an imaginary budget that was never enacted. Congressional Democrats never could be bothered to actually pass a budget on their watch (and, seriously, if you were them, would you want to put all those numbers together in one handy place? Or would you rather spread the spending out so it’s hard to see?), so Obama’s 2011 proposal was never enacted. That means that the only real numbers we have to go on are actual 2010 spending, from which Democrats propose to trim a grand total of approximately nothing.
Quoth the Post:
The Democrats’ posturing that they have met Republicans “halfway” on budget cuts does them no credit. Either they should take a stand and say they won’t accept any further cuts, or they should begin a real negotiation that leads to a higher number. Obama signaled he was willing to deal when he said he was “prepared to do more.” But the persistent claims of going “halfway” when in fact Democrats have done little to engage Republicans on the issue will only hurt their credibility in the long run.
Given the uncertain constitutional status of Obamacare, and given the sneaky way it’s been budgeted for, how about we hold onto that $105 billion in implementation spending that Michele Bachmann is so excited about until we’ve got a Supreme Court ruling on the mandate, etc? That does not seem to me unreasonable, and making the Republicans’ $60 billion in cuts $165 billion would move us that much closer to national solvency.
If somebody isn’t already planning the next rally on the Mall to remind Republicans of why they’ve got a House majority and what we expect them to do with it, it’s time to get moving. The Republicans have been properly wary of overreach thus far, but this is the point at which political momentum can easily be dissipated. Spending-cut precedents have to be established, with real credibility, before we move on to the next — and significantly harder — task, which is straightening out the entitlement mess. (By which I mean straightening out the Medicare mess, mostly. Social Security and Medicaid are relatively easy fixes, but Medicare is going to be a beast.)
— Kevin D. Williamson is a deputy managing editor of National Review and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, just published by Regnery. You can buy an autographed copy through National Review Online here.