February 23, 2011
Will Senate Republicans Snatch Budget Defeat from the Jaws of Victory?By Steve McCann
Are the Senate Republicans going wobbly, again? A CNN report indicates that negotiations are underway after several Republican leaders indicated they might accept a short-term spending bill as long as it included at least some spending reductions, and not necessarily the deeper cuts the House approved last weekend.
Needless to say, the Senate Democratic leaders greeted the news with a "positive reaction." Publicly, House Speaker John Boehner has said Senate Democrats should accept the entire $60 Billion in cuts the Republicans pushed through the House. However, privately House leaders are acknowledging the need for a stopgap measure to continue funding the government while they negotiate spending levels for a longer term bill to fund the government through October 1.
However, one member of the Republican leadership let the cat out of the bag: they are intimidated by the prospect of a government shutdown. He said: "Everyone knows that, no matter the truth, we would be blamed [for a government shutdown], so it would be a dumb political move."
With that attitude the leadership has essentially surrendered to the Democrats who will, with their cohorts in the media, simply dangle the threat of a shutdown whenever they choose and they will have the upper hand.
This is not the United States of 1995 and the Democrats will not succeed in blaming any shutdown, if one occurs, on the Republicans.
In politics 16 years is a lifetime. For those Republicans with weak knees in the House and Senate, perhaps a primer of what the facts on the ground were in 1995 (the last government shutdown blamed on the Republicans) as compared to today is in order.
In 1995 the unemployment rate was 5.6%; today, 9.4%. The U-6 unemployment rate was 9.9%; today, 17.0% (the U-6 unemployment rate counts not only people without work seeking full time employment but also marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.) The unemployment rates are up 68 and 72% respectively.
The federal budget deficit in 1995 was $172 Billion by the end of fiscal 2011 it will be nearly $1.6 Trillion. (adjusting for inflation: the annual deficit is up by 543% or a factor of 5.4x) The deficit as a percent of GDP in 1995 was 3.2% in 2011 it will be 11.3%
The national debt at the end of 1995 was $4.9 Trillion; at the end of 2011 it will be $14.5 Trillion. (adjusting for inflation: the national debt is up 106% or more than double). The national debt was 66% of GDP in 1995 and will be nearly 100% of GDP in 2011.
Overall government (federal, state and local) spending has also skyrocketed. In 1995 $2.63 Trillion was spent, in 2011 it will be $6.3 Trillion. (adjusted for inflation: overall spending is up 70%). In 1995 this spending was 35% of the GDP; today it exceeds 46% of the GDP.
In 1995, the federal government budget was $1.6 Trillion; President Obama has proposed for 2011 a budget of $3.75 Trillion. (adjusted for inflation: an increase of 67%)
The U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 1995 grew over 4.5% from the previous year. In 2010 the GDP grew only at 2.3% over the previous year. (http://politics4all.com/users/antoin/blog/3615-national-debt-by-presidential-term)
Another point of economic comparison is the price of oil. In 1995 it was $17.99 a barrel, today it is $105.00. (an increase of 304% adjusted for inflation )
In 1995, the American citizen was not engaged in the political process. Per the statistics above economic activity was robust particularly as compared to today. The average citizen was content to go about his business.
There were no foreign wars ongoing, no terror activity, and no upheavals in the Middle East.
In the venues of the media there was no Fox News, no internet blogs or news and commentary sites, and talk radio was a third of what it is today.
The atmosphere that allowed Bill Clinton, the Democrats and their allies in the media to successfully blame the shutdown on the Republicans does not exist today. In fact it is the polar opposite. The Republican leadership of the House and Senate need to understand that.
The people are now engaged. They are aware of the nation's debt and spending crisis which will lead to national bankruptcy. The Tea Party movement is unlike any other in recent American history and confirms the anxiety of the vast majority of the people as to the future. The once-mainstream media can no longer control the message and successfully propagate the lies and obfuscations of the Democrats.
The only factor as compared to 1995 that still does exist is that bubble that is Washington D.C., wherein dwell many in the Republican leadership who are still living a world dominated by the left and the media. There they fall sway to the need for acceptance and so-called civility as defined by the Left.
The Democrats and the Left have one well-worn and now threadbare playbook and continually revert to it. It is to portray their opposition as mean-spirited, spiteful and selfish, and when necessary drag out the artillery of racist accusations and lastly round-up the usual suspects for demonstrations and marches.
The nation is too far down the road to fiscal and social ruin and these tactics will no longer work as has been shown in the Wisconsin budget battle. The Republicans in Congress need to stop living in the past and once and for all realize they represent the vast majority of the people. They must cease falling for the same tired tactics of the Left. All members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans must grow-up. The Congress is not a high school debating society wherein cliques and social acceptance is paramount and the game of gotcha is obligatory. The future of the United States is in their hands.