MoveOn.org Moves In Wrong Direction

Bob Barr

3/6/2013 10:50:00 AM - Bob Barr

Sequester cuts had barely gone into effect last week when the uber-liberal MoveOn.org started shrilly whining that conservative barbarians were destroying the country. “Tea Party and austerity-obsessed billionaires have finally gone too far,” screamed the organization that was launched in 1998 with heavy-duty financial support from one of the Left’s own billionaires -- George Soros. The group electronically wailed that “Tea Parties” in cahoots with “billionaires,” were holding “kids” and “poor families” politically hostage in the battle over government spending.

In a sense, MoveOn.org is correct. There definitely are “hostages” being held captive in the very real debt crisis in which the country has been mired; but this group of hostages is not limited to the “poor” or America’s children. Hostage to the fiscal irresponsibility that has gripped government for years, are all of us – the American people.

There also are hostage takers; and it is neither the Tea Party movement nor wealthy conservatives. Those responsible for the “fiscal terrorism” of boundless deficit spending being inflicted on the country are the government big spenders, including President Barack Obama, orchestrating the fiscal death spiral.

Instead of lambasting Americans who are concerned about the ocean of debt threatening to permanently wreck our economy, MoveOn.org should look in the mirror.

There is a fundamental difference between the Tea Party and groups like MoveOn.org. MoveOn loves government. It remains enamored of government spending as fuel for its liberal agenda; and anything that threatens to close that spigot in any degree is perceived as a dire threat -- worthy of Chicken-Little warnings that the sky is going to fall.

The Tea Party, on the other hand, understands that uncontrolled government debt affects more than just poor families, kids and the mentally ill -- groups MoveOn.org uses to stoke emotional fires among its subscribers. The Tea Party knows that continuing to delay charting a course to spending reform hurts everybody.

The Tea Party also recognizes the public is tired of finger pointing; weary of unproductive political rhetoric and of kicking the fiscal can down the road while things continue to crumble around us.

E-mail blasts like those sent by MoveOn.org last week do far more to keep us stuck where we are than moving us forward.

And, stuck is precisely where Congress and President Obama have kept us since 2011, when the president first proposed the sequester. The concept was simple: If Congress couldn’t come up with spending reductions by the sequester deadline (originally, the first of the year), the cuts would kick in automatically as a “last resort.” With spending already at historically high levels, it seemed a reasonable bet that Congress could work something out with the Obama administration to come up with a budget that reduced spending, or at least a meaningful reduction in spending increases.

Lamentably, and in a clear example of the leadership vacuum in which our federal government now operates, no such plan emerged before last week’s deadline.

There is no credible public policy organization that would deny government spending is seriously out of control; at least one that would make such a claim with a straight face. Yet, Congress has not been able to agree on a budget since 2009; relying instead on a series of “stop-gap” appropriation resolutions to keep the lights on. The result has been debilitating and embarrassing for the country’s fiscal policy, as spending has continued to rise while offsetting cuts never happen.

Things need not be this way.

Despite many pundits concluding pessimistically that it has become impossible or inadvisable in the modern era to reduce government spending (or to do so without at the same time increasing taxes), history proves otherwise. It simply requires political will and leadership.

In 1997, with Republican Newt Gingrich as Speaker and Democrat Bill Clinton as President, a balanced budget was enacted into law (and actually prevailed for a short, four years), even as taxes were reduced.

On the leadership side, despite what appears a vacuum in national politics, there actually are a few bright spots. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and his newly-elected colleague from Texas, Ted Cruz, are lighting a fiscal flashlight for their compatriots to follow.

There even are a few legislative vehicles lying around that could be dusted off and jump-started. The “Cut, Cap and Balance” measure that passed the House in 2011 comes to mind.

The bottom line, however, is that without a president willing to step from his gilded pedestal and deign to actually work with the Congress for a fiscal solution the achievement of which both sides could then claim credit for, our country and We the People will continue to suffer. And right now, MoveOn.org remains a part of the problem not of the solution.