I've been doing a lot more posts about writing than about politics lately, which is natural since I'm deep inside the process of writing The Dragon Apocalypse series. When I'm writing, the rest of the world turns into murmuring shadows at the periphery of my awareness. I'm only dimly aware of friends and family. Hell, I'm only dimly aware of myself.
So, while I've been following politics just enough to still understand the jokes each week on "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me," I haven't really been tuned in to the political world to the degree I feel I should be. Which is stunning, because I feel like recent months have produced 1. an actual impeachable offense by the President and 2. the most frightening political "debate" I personally can remember.
1. The impeachable offense. So... we're still bombing Libya, right? And, unless I've been totally in a fog, the President hasn't yet asked congress for the authority to do so. How is this in any way constitutional? If unilaterally declaring war against a nation that posed no threat to us whatsoever isn't a high crime under the constitution, just what the hell is? Yet, Dennis Kucinich seems to be the only congressman willing to take a stand on this. The rest of congress seems to be hiding from the issue as much as possible. Drudgereport ran headlines day after day for months over whether Clinton had lied about having sex with an intern. Libya generated headlines for a day or two, then faded from sight.
One giant lesson to be drawn from this is that the "anti-war" left is, in fact, merely "anti-republican." If a republican president were bombing a nation under the exact same circumstances, you'd have crowd's descending on the national mall to declare the president a war criminal and a fascist. But, with Obama giving the commands... nary a peep.
2. The so called "debate." First, the whole threat to shut down the budget over 66 billion or 30 billion or whatever: The deficit is 1.4 trillion. 66 billion is a rounding error, hidden in the numbers you don't bother including when you say "the deficit is 1.4 trillion." If the deficit had been "1.466 trillion" before the budget passed, it became "1.400" trillion afterward. Only, of course, it didn't, since the second the deal was picked apart and all the imaginary numbers were pulled out the total actual savings didn't even hit 1 billion.
But, what does it matter? The big news wasn't this year's budget, which can be blamed on democrats who failed to actually pass a spending bill. No, the big news is that both the republicans and the president have finally put forward serious plans to balance the budget!
Except, of course, they haven't. Both plans were actually roadmaps that lead us headlong toward doom. Paul Ryan's plan "balances" the budget in something like 20 years! It's just built into the plan that we'll continue to run deficits for two more decades. Obama's far more "serious" and "courageous" plan only runs deficits for another 12 years! Let's say that you weigh 400 pounds, and have just had a wake up call because last year you only weighed 360 pounds. You announce to the world that you have agreed to embark on a serious diet plan. This year, you were on track to gain 80 pounds, but you skipped lunch earlier, so now you're on track to only gain 79 pounds. Progress! And, next year, the real cuts kick in, and you'll only gain 60 pounds! And the following year, 54 pounds! And, twelve years from now, you'll be completely stable, and gain no weight whatsoever!
I'm sorry, but, no, 12 years from now, you'll be dead, or in such horrible condition that death would be the merciful alternative.
All the plans to cut the deficit over a long time scale are meaningless. If the deficit is to be cut, it will have to be on a time scale of two years... since that's how long either party can be sure of having control of the house.
And, slowing the rate of growth of the deficit doesn't count as "cutting." The problem is no longer that we are running deficits. The problem that confronts us are the debts that we've already accumulated. This debt sits on the American chest like a succubus, robbing us of energy. If we spend another decade or two piling on debt, then the interest paid on the debt will exceed the taxes we collect. We will be bankrupt.
It's not too late. Getting a balanced budget will require spending cuts, but also increased taxes. To those who protest that any tax increase will just be met with a spending increase, I feel your fears, but, to me, the increased taxes aren't justified by future spending... they are morally mandated by past deficit spending. We built up these debts. Did we never intend to pay them? With what? Happy thoughts? The fact is, every time a democrat or republican has voted for deficit spending in the past, they were casting a vote for higher taxes in the future.
The future has arrived. The car is pointed toward doom. Do we step on the accelerator, or the brakes?