I heard our president today, complaining that the Republicans are standing in the way of the Democrats’ desire to extend unemployment benefits without paying for it through spending reductions elsewhere or by diverting unused money already set aside for the stimulus. Democrats are refusing; they only want to pass a benefit extension bill that is paid for with newly borrowed funds. In fact, Obama today said, “It’s time to stop holding workers laid off in this recession hostage to Washington politics.” Nice . . .
Am I the only one who remembers 1995? The Republicans controlled Congress for the first time in 40 years and true to the conservative principle of fiscal responsibility (which they adhered to for at least a couple years), refused to accept the Clinton budget. The Republicans wanted to see more spending cuts, and forced Clinton into a battle of frugality which eventually ended when the administration finally submitted a budget that proposed to eliminate the federal deficit within seven years.
The ensuing firestorm in the media, which blamed the Republicans for victimizing the government workers who were temporarily out of work, never gave them credit for the result of that shutdown – a balanced budget. In fact, most liberals I know love to use that very budget as their greatest (and only) example of fiscal restraint.
Now we have a president who wants to play the same little game, accusing those who are listening to the voice of the people crying out for fiscal responsibility of “holding hostage” the American people. This, from the party which clamored for spending restraints under George W. Bush (most conservatives did, as well) but which has been more than willing to triple our federal deficit, as a percentage of GDP, to nearly 11 percent this time around.
Unless we stop calling names and start controlling the checkbook, we’re going to have a whole lot more to worry about than not being able to pay multi-year unemployment benefits.