“The budget is a mythical beanbag. Congress votes mythical beans in and then reaches in and tries to pull real beans out.”-- Will Rogers
A fella walks into a fancy steak house and orders a thick juicy Filet Mignon, a baked potato with all the trimmings and washes it down with the most expensive red wine on the menu. When the waiter brings the check for this very expensive meal the fella says, “I won’t pay for this,” to which the waiter replies “But you ordered it, and you ate it?” The fella then says, “Yeah, but I only wanted to pay for a hamburger, fries and a beer!”
And that folk’s pretty well sums up the fiscal and financial fix we find ourselves in today. For too many years we were more than happy to gorge ourselves on more and more government largesse ladled out by politicians eager to buy our votes and get re-elected. But now that the bill has come due for our overindulgence, we don’t want to pay for it.
You want to know why we can’t seem to get our fiscal house in order and budget under control?
We forgot the old cowboy wisdom that says, “Never let your yearnings get ahead of earnings.” We did it as individuals and Congress did it for the entire country.
Overeating has created a nation of obese physically unfit people and overspending has created a nation of obese fiscally unfit governments. This is no coincidence.
And according to recent polling, now that the time has come to go on a fiscal diet, many Americans don’t want to do what will be necessary to slim down.
Take Social Security and Medicare: In the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll only 18 percent said that we should cut Medicare and only 22 percent said we should cut Social Security to reduce the budget deficit.
The Committee for a Responsible Budget’s current report states that spending on the Social Security Ponzi scheme, Medicare and Medicaid gobble up about half of the Federal Budget and by the end of the decade as baby boomers retire in droves that figure is expected to rise to 64 percent.
But these have become “sacred cows” in a budget that is a whole herd of sacred cows that can’t be touched. Washington has more sacred cows than the streets of New Delhi.
When Republicans proposed a measly $61 billion worth of cuts to the current fiscal year budget the hollering of the special interest groups was as predictable as a belch after a big meal.
Majority Leader Harry Reid said that those cuts “would be devastating to our economy and send us back into a recession.” What Harry Reid knows about economics you could fit in a thimble.
Why can’t these politicians cut spending?
Because the Democrats aren’t focused on reducing spending, they are only concerned about reducing the House Republican majority.
And Republicans want to protect their new majority and are too timid to force the issue.
The big threat is that the Federal government would shut down, with both sides worrying who would get the blame.
Do you think anyone would really notice? Despite the fear mongering by Democrats, government checks would still go out, the troops would still have the support they need and the planet would continue spinning on its axis.
But the media would show pictures of the Smithsonian with “closed” signs and interview people who said their vacation was spoiled by the evil Republicans.
Unfortunately Congress doesn’t put together a budget like many Americans already do.
So let me make it easy so they will understand.
First you get comfortable around the kitchen table. Second you get a piece of paper and you write down your expenses. Then you write down your revenue. Next you subtract your expenses from your revenue.
If your expenses are more than your revenue you have to cut expenses. If your revenue is more than your expenses you take the money left over and pay down debt or put money away for future expenses like your kid’s education.
Here is how Congress does it: First they can’t agree whether the table should be round or square. After months of deliberation they agree the table will be oval.
Second they argue what the definition of expenses is. Democrats want to call them targeted investments and Republicans want to call them reckless spending.
They finally agree to disagree on this and move on to revenue. But they can’t agree on what to do about revenue. Democrats call for revenue enhancements which Republicans decry as tax increases.
Finally after wasting a year arguing they pass a continuing resolution, or C.R., and Congress adjourns.
And just as sure as summer turns to fall last year’s deficit is added to the long term national debt. This will be paid for by future generations to our debt holders, the Chinese. Let’s hope they don’t demand early payment.
What America desperately needs to do is go on a crash fiscal diet. And all Congress and the White House want to do is switch to Diet Coke.
But just like getting physically fit ain’t painless or easy, getting fiscally fit won’t be painless or easy either.
Hell if it was, it would’ve been done a long time ago.
Patrick Dorinson is a political commentator and frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. You can catch "The Cowboy Libertarian with Patrick Dorinson Sundays from 3 - 5pm PT on KFBK News Talk. Click here to listen live online.