Senate Republicans turn their backs on spending restraint
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul suggested the federal government cut spending this year by $400 billion. In return for a big, up-front, cut, future spending increases of one percent per year for a decade would be allowed. By 2023, the federal budget would be balanced.
His reasoning? With trillion dollar deficits on the horizon, and a national debt that is fast approaching science fiction levels, something has to be done to stem the flow of red ink.
Republican hawks took the floor to blast Paul for trying to undermine the American military, even though his proposal would have let Congress decide how much to cut from each department, including the Pentagon.
"Let me tell you what that means to the military," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) before voting against the bill. "Devastation. This budget throws our military in the ditch."
Hardly. Even if the entire $400 billion cut Paul proposed were applied to the Pentagon, America would still spend far more on the military than any other nation. But even the suggestion that defense spending could be cut is enough to scare most Republicans away from facing fiscal reality. As Paul pointed out on Thursday, the national debt and $1 trillion deficits are bigger threats to America's long-term national security than a reduction in funding for the Pentagon. "There is waste from top to bottom in every department of the government, including the military," Paul said, noting that one Pentagon agency managed to misplace $800 million, according to a recent audit.
No federal agency or department should be above cuts, particularly those that can’t seem to keep track of the billions already handed to them.
But saving even a penny on every dollar is too much, too drastic, too dangerous for the big spenders. After all, it’s not their money. It’s your money…plus whatever they can borrow from lenders both foreign and domestic.
This course eventually leads to disaster. Maybe not tomorrow, or even next year, But the time will come when the lenders say “no more.” And when that time comes, the cuts will have to be made regardless of the preening and pleading of Senators and House members alike.
A debt spiral is immoral. It saddles future generations (who have neither a say nor a vote on current spending) with bills, obligations, and choices that should have been made today. We can only hope they have the courage to do what our current crop of elected officials refused to do.
And that when they look for places to cut, they begin with congressional pensions.