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Budget woes

I’m old enough to remember the last time the government almost shut down…which then of course, it did. I remember it specifically because it had shut down, and nothing changed. I also remember that my parish priest, from back when I was a believer in that sort of thing, went to Washington DC and wanted to see an art gallery exhibit which was closed because of the shut down. Luckily some benefactors paid out of pocket to open it. I remember not understanding that if the government were shut down why people still had to work. I was younger then, not too young to understand but too young to really care alot being below voting age and of the general apathy toward politics that most young teenagers have.

That being said, this time I have both the knowledge and the caring but you know what? I still didn’t understand what the fuss was about. Then it took Conservative Andrew Sullivan to explain it to me on Liberal Bill Maher’s show.

My confusion was based on the fact that the GOP was demanding monetary cuts to the budget which the Democrats put up some flimsy resistance. They wanted amount X, the Democrats wanted less cuts…but then the Democrats capitulated as they usually do. From what i understood by Thursday the money was equal, the Democrats would cut the same amount of money that the GOP wanted but for some reason the GOP said it wasn’t going to be enough. Boehner kept talking about reasonable demands, and how the left was meeting them…well I guess, but it didn’t seem that the demands weren’t being met. The cuts were being made, which were stupid bullshit cuts. It’s not like the they were talking about cutting defense spending, medicare, or social security; not its the salad from the dinner plate that needs to go.* Nor does anyone ever actually talk about bringing more money in or raising taxes back to what they were under the hallowed saint Ronald Reagan (whom I beginning to think couldn’t be a conservative republican anymore). It’s almost as if getting more money and reducing spending somehow cancels each other out, which any family on a budget will tell you isn’t the case.

Anyway…Andrew Sullivan explained that this is the fault of the Tea Party. Let’s go back six months to before the election. I had predicted that the Tea Party would fizzle out, then I amended that prediction so that it would have a clear and objective way of being evaluated. In other words, my initial prediction of the end of the Tea Party was unfalsifiable. It could never be wrong even if the sun collapses and the earth was sucked into a black hole, at that point I would have been right but only a billion years off the mark. Think of a conspiracy theorist who constantly adds to their theory in order to not be proven wrong, e.g.
“thermite cut the beams in the WTC”
“-thermite can’t do that it doesn’t direct the heat that way.”
“well it was super thermite”
“-you would need a housing that could hold the thermite, even super thermite, against the I-beam.”
“Super thermite is like paint you could just slap it on the steel itself.”
-“…and what exactly is super-thermite?”
“It’s a top secret classified material designed for cutting I-beams.”

At no point can you prove it wrong. I didn’t want to fall into this trap so I made a time constraint…and I was wrong. The Tea Party is still around although they’ve toned down the yelling. The Tea Party arose because, according to them, fiscal spending was out of control. Why they didn’t do this when Bush was spending all sorts of money is a question I don’t have the answer to, but nevertheless here they are. Lobbying for an end to government irresponsibility…except when it comes to the government actually bringing in more money. Which would also be responsible, but if they are against spending fine. I disagree that it’s the sole problem but whatever.

So why the stand off then? The GOP demand for monetary cuts were met for this time period. Then Sullivan pointed out that there was more to the demand, remember he’s a conservative. The budget conflict was originally about money but it became about something else and the Tea Party is now unmasked. If it were just fiscal, it shouldn’t matter where the cuts came from it should just matter that the cuts are made. This however wasn’t enough, it was important that cuts also pushed a social agenda. The two biggest problems: Planned Parenthood and the EPA.

For once, I was amazed that the Democrats didn’t back off. The EPA was to be stripped of its power because Coal doesn’t pollute or if it does its good for the environment or something like that. And the paltry sum that the government sends to Planned Parenthood was to be stopped. Why? Because Michelle Malkin thinks that women shopping at the mall just pop in for an abortion. Even though the money from the federal government cannot be used for abortion.** Despite the fact that women in large, support the institution, and despite the fact that giving out free contraceptives (among other programs) actually prevents abortion, the Christian base gets all in a huff when it hears the A-word. So it wants the organization cut from funding. I don’t think that anyone can make the straight claim that this argument is only about the money. As I said earlier, if it were then it wouldn’t matter where the money came from.

I just wish my prediction was correct. Since it would be nice if at some point there were extremists that had a reasonable point of view, although if it were reasonable then they wouldn’t be extremists.

*In reference to Maher’s analogy of the budget that its made up of mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese being the three largest portions of the budget, with all other ancillary spending being a tiny salad and that all the politicians ever do is argue over whether or not a carrot gets to be on the plate. I like the analogy and the show is really proud of it.

**This is an utter fallacy though. It’s like saying that if you give me ten bucks I can’t use it for beer, but now I can use the money in my pocket for beer and ten for something else. The only way this claim makes sense is if you want your hands free from direct purchase of the beer then I suppose it works.

Categories: current events, politics
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