Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Spending Freeze Isn't Going to Happen

We already knew the spending freeze was symbolic and impotent, a carefully-crafted offering to make the Obama Administration look responsible, tough on deficits, and more populist. We already knew that its absurdly narrow application to the budget would prevent it from actually solving our nation's worsening budget crisis.

Anthony Gregory of the Independent Institute said it best:

This is a decent point. Bush racked up the deficit with two off-budget wars, a bloated expansion of Medicare and tax cuts that did not correspond to any cuts in spending. And so what’s Obama propose to halt the deficit from spiraling yet more out of control?

"We are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected, but all other discretionary government programs will."

Let me get this straight. Medicare and war profligacy brought on the crisis, and so we will "freeze" spending, expect for Medicare and war—and also except for Social Security and Medicaid? Huh?

But it gets worse

Obama's modest spending freeze won't even happen. Congressman Ron Paul made the following point on February 1st:

"First of all is timing. It wouldn't go into effect until 2011, which allows plenty of time to increase spending levels quite a bit before they are frozen. If the administration really understood and cared about our spending problems they would not freeze spending a year from now, but cut spending immediately and significantly. But, spending cuts almost never happen in Washington, and they are not likely now or a year from now -- if the politicians have anything to say about it."

Like it does with everything else, our government has postponed dealing with the problem and put it off to a later date when some new emergency or twisted reasoning will allow them to postpone it yet again. I was certainly irked about the year-long delay in the spending freeze, but I hadn't thought of it the way Congressman Paul has- that by postponing it until 2011, the government assures that it is unlikely to ever happen.

To make this sad possibility even more likely, Congressman Paul points out even more caveats that make the spending freeze and unlikely eventuality:

The third caveat is what is included in the freeze that would make it politically impossible to pass Congress, for example air traffic controllers salaries, education, farm subsidies and national parks.

Can't you see it now? Even though Obama proposed this spending freeze, can't you see Republican Congressmen getting bashed in the media one year from now for voting to confirm it? Is it so hard to imagine a public with an extremely short memory and and all-too-willing media painting Congressmen as villains for cutting spending on education and our national parks, even though it was originally Obama's policy proposal?

This spending freeze was lame to begin with.

Now I see it might not even happen.