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Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Washington Post: Opinion: Robert J. Samuelson: The Debate That Wasn't

The Washington Post: Opinion: Robert Samuelson: The Debate That Wasn’t 

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

I agree with Robert Samuelson that Washington really hasn’t been debating the size of government. But avoiding tough decisions and when they find things they actually want to do that is both parties they either borrow the money to pay for it, or try to cut something they think not a lot of people would notice so they do not have to pay a political price for it. And the latest Farm Bill where they actually cut Food Assistance for millions of Americans who would go hungry without it is a perfect example of that. Instead of cutting subsidies to corporate farmers people who have money, they cut the people who do not have much of a voice in Washington and can’t hurt them politically.

The best way to reduce debt and deficits if that is your goal, is first to figure out what you need government to do and how much money it needs to do those things that can’t be done anywhere else, or done as well. Or perhaps done in other places, but you need the Federal Government to play a role there as well. And medical research from the NIH would be a perfect example of that. Right now in these so-called budget debates both sides are debating on the margins instead. Cut a little here, perhaps raise a little revenue like with the so-called fiscal cliff debate in late 2012. But neither party really has laid out a vision for the country at least when it comes to the size and scope of the Federal Government.

Even with the Tea Party in the Republican Party as much as they may bash Washington and big government they are the first to make sure no one cuts their Social Security and Medicare. And the first to get their share of whatever pork that is being offered for their states or districts. The so-called Paul Ryan plan from 2011 and 2012 doesn’t erase the budget deficit even by 2023. And most of the budget cuts in it are targeted towards people in poverty who again do not have the resources to complain. And that part of the budget is pretty small compared with the rest of the Federal budget. And leaves the current budget at about where it is right now as far as a percentage of Gross National Product. In the low twenties.

The only faction in Washington and in Congress that has a long-term vision for the size and scope of the Federal Government are the people with the least amount of power in Washington. The so-called Congressional Progressive Caucus, but they seem to have a Federal program and tax increase for everything the country has to deal with. Including raising taxes by trillions of dollars to spend all that money on current Federal programs. And create new economic and social programs to generate economic and job growth not to pay down the debt or deficit. As part of what they call the People’s Budget.

If this was a real debate about the size and scope of the Federal Government, both the Democratic Leadership would have their plan and the Republican Leadership would have there’s. They would both be different and they would both be about limited government. Since neither party at least at the leadership levels are social democratic parties and are both mainstream parties on the Left and Right. At least at the top with factions further to the Left and Right on down their party. But they would both say we need an effective Federal Government with the resources to do what we need it to do. This is what we need it to do and this is how we would pay for it. And let the voters decide who has the better plan.