A big bravo to Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) for setting the record straight on who is bluffing whom in Washington D.C. regarding fiscal responsibility initiatives. As this article explains,
(Paulding County, Georgia)– U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-GA., called on the President to get realistic over the fiscal crisis facing our nation and the tough choices and sacrifices that Congress and the President must make to solve the problem, including cutting federal spending, curtailing the job-killing over-regulation by federal agencies and addressing the need to reform entitlement programs such as Social Security.
On June 27, 2010, President Obama stated, “I hope some of those folks who are hollering about the deficits and debt will step up because I’m calling their bluff.”
Isakson recalled the President’s claim on the Senate floor and responded with the following statement.
Isakson stated, “I’m stepping up, and I want to call the President’s bluff because I think we’re at a serious point in our history where we need to be realistic about what confronts us in terms of spending and the national debt.
“The biggest bluff this year was the budget presented by the President which did not take any of the recommendations of his own Deficit Commission and, instead, locked in the higher spending we’ve seen over the last two years and made it permanent calling it a ‘spending freeze.’
“The American people are asking us to step up. They want us to do what they’ve been doing over the last three years—sit around the kitchen table, reorganize priorities and spend within their means. H.R.1 in the House, which made $61 billion in cuts, was a modest start at a long-term process but it sent us in the right direction and called the President’s bluff,” said Isakson.
“My Republican colleagues and I have made proposal after proposal in efforts to rein in federal spending. I don’t think its right to say that nobody has answered the call on deficit and debt reduction. We haven’t been bluffing anybody; neither did the President’s own Deficit Commission.”
There is more to the article, listing some of the pieces of legislation that Sen. Isakson and others have sponsored toward the goal of reducing federal spending.
The article then concludes with a final quote from the senator:
“I believe that we need to sit down and talk about the tough things, the shared sacrifice and the benefit that comes from responsibility, frugality and a commitment to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We should always remember the principle that less debt is better. We should never be a country controlled by those we owe.”
Sen. Isakson is putting things into perspective. Well said, Senator! President Obama and most Democrats in Congress have not shown themselves serious about the absolute need to drastically cut federal spending.
However, there are Democrats too who are willing to criticize Mr. Obama on budget matters. For example, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, has made the news twice, last month, and just yesterday. In February, he took a stand on the $3.73 TRILLION budget being proposed by the Obama administration, saying that it did not adequately serve “the next generation and beyond.” Read his statement which is carefully worded and not quite as focused on spending reduction as it is on spending “fairness”. He took issue with such Obama budget items as the proposed allocation for fast trains, but he didn’t offer much in the way of concrete suggestions for substantive spending reductions. Then, yesterday on the Senate floor, he challenged the president to take the lead in budget negotiations, in effect joining Sen. Isakson’s calling of Mr. Obama’s bluff:
He said he and other senators were struggling to vote on two proposals deemed “partisan and unrealistic” – one calling for $6.5 billion in new cuts that “utterly ignores our fiscal reality” and a second that “blindly hacks the budget with no sense of our priorities or values as a country.”
“Republicans will say Democrats don’t go far enough . . . Democrats will say Republicans go too far. The truth is both are right, and both proposals will fail,” Manchin said.
“The truth of the matter is that this debate, as important as it is, will not be decided by House Republicans and Senate Democrats negotiating with each other – or past each other. This debate will be decided when the president leads these tough negotiations.
“And, right now – that is not happening.”
Sen. Manchin wants a compromise between the Senate Democrats’ proposed $6.5 billion and the House Republicans’ $61 billion, and little else is possible in the current Washington situation. However, as I’ve noted before, even the hard-won House reduction of $61 billion is really just a drop in the bucket when the 2011 annual outlay is expected to be approximately $3.5 TRILLION.
Still, the remarks of these two senators should be noted by voters (whether they be in some sense self-serving or not). They should also be noted by the lawmaker colleagues in the House. Lynn Woolsey, are you paying any attention at all to the fact that increasingly members of both parties realize that federal spending levels (for everything, not must military costs) must drop? When are you, Rep. Woolsey, going to wake up to the responsibility you, as a legislator, as a maker of our federal budgets, owe future generations? Ever? Never? Is that spendthrift mentality really the kind of legacy you want to leave behind? Do you really want future generations to look back on your tenure in office and say something like: “She never really understood that profligate spending was, in truth, a flagrant violation of her solemn duty to legislate wisely and constitutionally.”
UPDATE: As expected, the U.S. Senate has rejected both the GOP House budget that would have cut $61 billion and the Senate Dem proposal that would have cut $6.5 billion. A figure between these two will probably ultimately be agreed to in bicameral negotiations.
In a legislative process where this would be possible, I’d urge the House to should respond by cutting even more from every available section of the budget and telling the Senate if it rejects that, it will add even further cuts. But the very best we can hope if that the House stands firm at the $61 billion. As I noted before, even $61 billion is a puny percentage of the incredibly inflated 2011 budget ($3.5 TRILLION).