Paul Jacob

How do you tell when a politician is serious about the federal budget?

Not sure. Haven’t seen that in quite a while.

But I do know lack of seriousness when I see it. In the first days of the new year, President George W. Bush promised “to produce a plan to balance the federal budget in five years.” Five years. Hmmm. Where have we heard that before?

He challenged Congress to “slash” pet projects, too.

Coming from someone who aims to balance the budget only after he’s out of office, that’s sure some challenge.

According to the Washington Post, the president’s announcement was greeted by Democrats as “me-tooism.” Exactly. Our allegedly conservative prez has offered nothing that a brain-addled supporter of Big Government couldn’t offer, and hasn’t offered a dozen times before.

What our prez proposed? Standard blather. Read it like this: “Whatever we do, let’s put off the unpleasant balancing part of budgeting until we’re out of office!”

This might mean something to Congress, were our reps’ terms limited. But they aren’t, so putting off till tomorrow actually means putting off forever.

Five years! You might as well talk about the political responsibility of Stalin’s Five Year Plans!

Bitter Division?
The Bush plan — or should we call it the Democrat Plan? — is old hat. We’ve heard it all before. If we just wait long enough, a tax cut, or pump priming from the Fed, or tax increase (Dem version) or what-have-you, will jump start the economy so that the revenues will rise and budgets be met.

Not offered? Real budget cuts. For to suggest that any current mission of government can be reduced in any way is anathema to the politicians’ self-image as wizards, saviors. Their utopia always requires another program, more governmental power, additional millions or billions or trillions in taxes. The politicians’ power is in what government does . . . and spends.

No one has suggested a power cut. (Well, I have.)

Strangely, after all we’ve heard about a deep partisan divide, the Washington Post reported:

Appearing in the Rose Garden with his Cabinet, Bush said he has been encouraged by meetings with Democrats and thinks they can reach common ground on spending issues that have bitterly divided them for six years.

And white is black, night is day, peace is war, and Democrats are Repub- . . . oops.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.