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Fiscal Irresponsibility Day. Washington rams through an appropriately hideous deal.
Reason ^ | 01/03/2013 | Matt Welch

Posted on 01/03/2013 7:03:30 AM PST by SeekAndFind

It's the deficit-reduction package that doesn't reduce the deficit. It's the debt-ceiling deal that doesn't touch the debt ceiling (and doesn't cut debt). It's the long-term entitlement negotiation that—after nearly three years of wheedling—does not delay, let alone stave off, a Baby Boomer retirement bomb currently on pace to swallow half of federal outlays by 2030.

Say this for the fiscal cliff-avoidance bill that passed on New Year's Day—it is a near-perfect expression of Washington's grotesque devolution since Bill Clinton left office. Not only have a succession of Republican and Democratic presidents and congresses combined to jack up spending from $1.8 trillion in Clinton's last year (a bit more than $2.3 trillion in today's dollars) to a baseline level of $3.6 trillion and above, but the process for arriving at these hideous figures has degenerated into a series of endless, man-made, deadline negotiations in lieu of actual budgeting.

If you squint hard enough you can see some comparative upside to this circus freakshow—it could have been worse, and maybe (as my colleague Nick Gillespie suggested this morning) "the government has effectively kicked the can so far down the road that they've run out of road."

But that's the same claim that was being made three years President Barack Obama.

"What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further," Obama told The Washington Post in January 2009, shortly before inauguration. "We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else's."

It's hard to remember now, but one of the president's biggest and most effective selling propositions in 2008 was that he and the world-weary Democratic majority would finally bring some adult supervision to a Republican-led budgetary process that took to heart then-Vice President Dick Cheney's maxim that "deficits don't matter." "We will maintain fiscal responsibility, so that we do not mortgage our children's future on a mountain of debt," the 2008 Democratic Party Platform promised. The president's first budget was actually titled A New Era of Fiscal Responsibility.

Instead of any of that, Obama's Washington no longer does budgets, period, and can-kicking is on pace to replace baseball as our official National Pastime by the end of FY 2013. Consider these upcoming manufactured deadlines:

* February 28: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's current estimate for when the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling will run out.

* March 1: When the "sequestration cuts," which disproportionately impact Republican-favored defense spending, will once again theoretically materialize unless negotiators come up with some new dodge.

* September 1: When the dreaded "milk cliff"—i.e., the scheduled but not-seriously-contemplated removal of wasteful government subsidies for milk producers—is back again to haunt us.

* January 1, 2014: What, you think we won't be doing this again next year? Read this summary of the bill: "The legislation would provide for an extension through 2013 of over 50 provisions of tax law known as tax extenders." In plain English, these are year-to-year special tax exemptions and subsidies for various well-connected groups. As the summary points out, "The legislation would allow increased tax rates for many small businesses, while providing some large corporations with tax breaks through the 'extenders' package. These include tax breaks for wind energy, motorsports racing tracks, film and television productions, and cellulosic biofuels production."

* January 1, 2018: There are "stimulus extenders" in the bill as well, adding another five years each to various American Opportunity Tax Credits, Earned Income Tax Credits, and so on. Estimated price tag: $134 billion.

So forget those quaint hangovers, televised parades, and college football games: New Year's Day is now and forever going to be Fiscal Irresponsibility Day, where politicians who claim poverty will throw last-minute money at NASCAR and Goldman Sachs in the name of one day thinking about forming a commission to ponder cutting the growth of entitlement programs and military spending.

It's revolting, it's discretionary, and it's our future, unless and until we start electing officials who are serious about cutting the size of government.


Matt Welch is editor in chief of Reason magazine and co-author with Nick Gillespie of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, now out in paperback with a new foreword.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 112th; budget; fiscalcliff; spending; taxhikes

1 posted on 01/03/2013 7:03:45 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Oh. A libertarian. Do we even need them anymore? I haven’t been to the libertary to check out a book in ages. Last time I went, the libertarian and a bunch of winos were looking at porn on the computers.

2 posted on 01/03/2013 7:11:40 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: SeekAndFind
The news media created this fake crisis , this “fiscal cliff” to cause a stampede of RINOS.

The media wanted and got a tax on the rich( that's called a progressive income tax and is marxism).

Senators didn't even read the atrocious bill and voted on it on New year's in the middle of the night (wtf?). these politician scum are enemies of America,traitors and a threat to our freedom, liberties and rights.

the media is playing everyone.

3 posted on 01/03/2013 7:11:51 AM PST by Democrat_media (media makes mass shooters household names to create more & take our guns)
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To: blueunicorn6

Good luck w that. Telling the libertarians to F off really helped out the GOP this year right?

4 posted on 01/03/2013 7:15:18 AM PST by GlockThe Vote (The Obama Adminstration: 2nd wave of attacks on America after 9/11)
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: GlockThe Vote

The LIEbertarians won, right? They got their social radical, amoral anti-Christian man in power. Too bad the absense of social virtue in the public culture goes with globalism and communism rather than freedom.

6 posted on 01/03/2013 7:45:21 AM PST by SaraJohnson
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To: SaraJohnson

Romney lost a few million ron paul voters by telling them to F off.

Real smart there from the worthless GOP full of single issue fools who will never win another national election.

7 posted on 01/03/2013 8:10:14 AM PST by GlockThe Vote (The Obama Adminstration: 2nd wave of attacks on America after 9/11)
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To: SeekAndFind

The RATs and the GOP are the SPENDING party. Time for a true second party to oppose spending.

8 posted on 01/03/2013 9:53:45 AM PST by VRWC For Truth (Roberts has perverted the Constitution)
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To: GlockThe Vote

Real smart there from the worthless GOP full of single issue fools who will never win another national election.

And the amoral Paulite Liebertarians will win an election?

Actually, you won. You got your amoral society voting itself your money.

9 posted on 01/03/2013 11:37:32 AM PST by SaraJohnson
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