Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ryan's New Balanced Budget 

Today, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his revised proposal to balance the budget in 10 years. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Rep. Ryan explains how it's done: 

"On the current path, spending will increase by 5% each year. Under our proposal, it will increase by 3.4%. Because the U.S. economy will grow faster than spending, the budget will balance by 2023, and debt held by the public will drop to just over half the size of the economy."

Sounds simple enough, right? If Washington were functioning normally, the House and Senate would pass their respective plans and work out their differences in a conference committee. But Washington is not functioning normally, and the differences between the House and the Senate are tremendous. 

For example, Rep. Ryan's budget proposal last year balanced in 23 years. It went nowhere then because the majority in the Senate believed that even taking 23 years to get to balance was too onerous. In addition, Ryan's budget effectively repeals Obamacare. 

Not surprisingly, Senate Democrats have already declared Ryan's plan dead on arrival. They are working on their own budget that reportedly seeks at least $1 trillion in new taxes. Such a plan would be dead on arrival in the House. So the budget stalemate that has prevailed in Washington for the past three years seems likely to continue. 

Reforming The Third Rail 

Now I know for some conservatives introducing a budget proposal that doesn't balance for 10 years is infuriating. On the "Bauer and Rose Show" on Sirius/XM radio we often get callers complaining that they elected their members of Congress to balance the budget this year. NOW! 

At first glance it appears there is public support to do so. Eighty-three percent of voters believe that spending is out-of-control. But polling also finds that most Americans are unwilling to make the kinds of cuts to popular programs that would be required to achieve a balanced budget now. 

There is a reason entitlement reform has been called the "third rail" of politics. Touch popular programs like Medicare and Social Security and you risk political death. 

I am in favor of cutting foreign aid to rogue regimes. We should eliminate duplicate programs. There should be strict controls to prevent taxpayer dollars going to illegal immigrants. Government inspector generals should be just as zealous in eliminating waste, fraud and abuse as IRS agents are in squeezing hard-working taxpayers. 

But even if we do all of those things, we are still on a difficult path due to demographics. Ten thousand people a day are applying for Medicare and Social Security benefits. To propose a budget that makes significant cuts to these programs could easily become political suicide. 

Given that the national debt has increased $6 trillion dollars in the past four years, politicians in both parties have an obligation to explain to the voting public how they intend to reform popular programs in order to save them from bankruptcy. Then there may be a real opportunity to pass a budget that balances and that preserves the safety net. 

Islamists Welcome, American Kids Not 

Yesterday President Obama met with the leaders of ten Arab and Muslim organizations, seeking their input as he prepares to visit the Middle East. Among the organizations represented at the meeting were the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Both of these groups have defended terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. 

In addition, the ADC honored "the great Helen Thomas" AFTER her anti-Semitic rant against Israel ended her career in journalism. 

The idea that these groups are ushered into the Roosevelt Room for personal time with the president while taxpaying tourists and schoolchildren can't get in the door for a tour is infuriating! 

By the way, you may remember this relatively famous photo of an Arab journalist clutching the body of his 11 month-old son, allegedly killed by an Israeli air strike last year. Embraced by the left-wing media for its powerful imagery, the photo went viral as Israel's enemies accused it of indiscriminately killing innocent civilians. 

Many at the time were skeptical, claiming that the evidence did not indicate an Israeli strike. Now a new U.N. report confirms that the baby was killed by a Hamas rocket. 

Referring to a fraudulent case accusing white college athletes of racism, one liberal journalist quipped, "The narrative was right, even if the facts were wrong." To the left-wing media, the narrative of the photo was right, even if the facts were not. It will be interesting to see how many media outlets report the truth, but I suspect they will be unwilling to acknowledge their own anti-Israel bias.