Wednesday, February 09, 2005

'Bout Time: After four years of Republicans' spending like "drunken sailors", Bush is using his lame-duck term to finally instill some fiscal responsibility by reducing government expenditures to rein in the deficits. Some people may wonder why he waited so long. But just look at the news coverage and the Democratic complaints to find the answer.

Story after story is about how some poor American will lose his shirt because Bush wants to cut an obscure government program. Attack after attack, Democrats are accusing Bush of neglecting the children, the seniors, and anybody else who's helplessly depends on the government for one reason or another.

Had Bush done this during his first term, his opponents would have used any responsible cut in the federal budget to paint Bush as a heartless grinch who likes to steal candy away from children. By letting the deficits spiral out of control, Bush was immune from such accusations. Sure, he was rightfully attacked for mismanaging the budget, but that's so wonky compared to a campaign commercial featuring a sweet old lady who will probably die because her favorite government program was cut.

Everyone -- Left, Right, and Middle -- has been arguing that the deficits are growing too large and that Republicans need to actually be the party of fiscal discipline, not just claim to be. Well, in order to cut deficits, government has to cut spending. And that means programs have to get axed.

That's not to say I agree with all that Bush is doing. While I supported his initial tax cuts and deficit spending to halt the recession, I believe he went too far. The tax cuts have done their job, so there's no reason to keep cutting more. Getting rid of the estate tax, for example, truly only helps the super rich without pumping any more money into business or the economy.

But it's nearly impossible to have a rational debate about fiscal issues. Republicans will always paint Democrats as government thugs who want to steal your money. Democrats will always accuse Republicans of being heartless monsters who like to eat children and old people. To get the budget in order, we're all going to have to sacrifice. And that means both sides are going to have to compromise a little on their ideological dogmatism and meet somewhere in the middle.


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