This week, though, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., offered up the House's budget outline, which -- whether misguided, genius, flawed or whatever you might think of it -- is a pretty earnest reflection of the concerns of about half the country. The primitive half. So the White House -- where rational, enlightened grown-ups are represented -- responded like so:
"The House budget once again fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility. It would shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers." It's a waste of time to point out how little of the above statement is true, because no matter what the topic is or how critical the consequences are, the White House is going to claim Daddy Warbucks isn't pulling his weight. It polls well.
Oh, and oil companies and hedge fund managers. The axis of evil.
Now, you may wonder, what on earth does block granting Medicare have to do with the biggest financial crisis of our lifetimes? What does a plan that allows seniors -- 10 years from now -- to use Medicare dollars in private plans or stick with the traditional government-run system have anything to do with a recession? How does reforming the tax code induce housing prices to bubble retroactively? What does altering the destructive trajectory of deficit spending have to do with fairness?
Nothing, of course.
The administration isn't serious about the debt, because like most politicians, Barack Obama doesn't care. Not a whit. Democrats are willing to move heaven and earth for the things they do care about. They were prepared to whip up political turmoil and put the presidency and Congress on the line to pass Obamacare. Yet they won't risk offering a budget, lest anyone glimpse their priorities. And we could tax all the millionaires into poverty, and it wouldn't make a dent without reforming spending.
No, of course, you can't blame any single administration or person for the array of decisions and autopilot spending that has put us on this course -- but we can name the star performers.
The president once claimed that others wanted to kick "the can down the road." Well, the national debt has increased more during President Obama's three years of judicious rule than it did during eight years of a reckless George W. Bush. Whereas Obama once claimed that Bush deficits were "irresponsible" and even "unpatriotic," his latest budget projected a deficit of about $1.3 trillion, followed by a $901 billion deficit and then ones remaining in the hundreds of billions for 10 years after that -- or until some new emergency needs additional spending.
Don't get me wrong; the Ryan budget isn't perfect. After all, it's brimming with superb non-starters, such as the repeals of Dodd-Frank and Obamacare and the complete privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And it must also be pointed out that for many Republicans, fretting about debt is a newfound passion. Even today, Ryan's budget doesn't take on Social Security. The GOP won't go for real cuts in defense spending. On Medicare they're wobbly, and on farm subsidies some of them sound like members of the Fabian Society. So there is plenty of blame to go around.
But these days, we can see how utterly unserious Democrats are about the deficit and debt. They've offered no real plan. They're not even pretending anymore.