The day after the November elections, on this very program, I said the following:
“If you are hoping that yesterday’s election results will make that much of a difference, you hope in vain. The Republicans certainly don’t have the votes to enact any massive government spending cuts. . . And, besides, neither they nor the Democrats are leveling with the American people about what is needed to get our fiscal house in order.”
Well, today, six weeks later, I won’t say “I told you so.” And I do not claim to be a prophet. But last week, the Congressional Republicans sure made me look like one. They arranged a deal with President Obama to extend Bush-era tax cuts in exchange for another stimulus program.
In all, the deal could add more than a trillion dollars to the federal deficit. As Charles Krauthammer wrote in his scathing Washington Post column, “Obama got the Republicans to offer to increase spending and cut taxes by $990 billion over two years. Two-thirds of that is above and beyond extension of the Bush tax cuts but includes such urgent national necessities as windmill subsidies.”
Folks, this is a national Christmas tree with expensive gifts hanging on every branch for everybody. Madness! Washington follies in the extreme.
It’s crystal clear now, as Ezra Klein wrote in the Washington Post, nobody in Washington really cares about the deficit. The Democrats got their stimulus, and the Republicans got some tax cuts. And the rest of us get it in the neck.
I’ve been saying, friends, for two years that this country cannot continue this reckless, grossly immoral course of deeper and deeper deficits. We will go bankrupt. And then watch it all break loose in the markets, in the banks, and eventually in the streets. We will, indeed, become Greece.
Look, I don’t want to pay higher taxes any more than anybody else does. But I would certainly rather pay higher taxes than betray my kids and grandkids.
I can’t help but think of a New York Times column written several years ago by David Brooks. The point of the column was the importance of self-control and deferred gratification—classic Christian virtues. Brooks described a famous experiment conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel. Mischel left a bunch of four-year-olds in a room with a bell and a marshmallow. If a kid rang the bell, Mischel would come back and the child could eat the marshmallow. But if they waited for him to come back on his own, those kids could have two marshmallows.
Well, some of the children couldn’t wait one minute and rang the bell. Some held out a little longer. They each got one marshmallow. But those who waited for the professor’s return got two.
Brooks then pointed out that according to independent studies, the kids who deferred gratification did better later in life, scoring higher on tests, having a much better life outcome as adults.
I suppose the others who couldn’t wait must have been the ones elected to Congress.
Because Congress, despite the overwhelming message sent just a month ago at the polls, is ringing the bell again and again: More spending, more debt.
What can you do? Call your congressman and Senators. Tell them, “Stop acting like four-year olds. Instead, hold the line, shrink the deficit. Kill this bill. Enough is enough.”