Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Budget fight. Why bi partisanship?

Budget debate: Bi partisanship, anyone? Any candidate  who advocates cutting entitlements  is facing a loss in 2012 unless unless both parties take the fall together. Neither party right now  wants to take leadership  and for one party to point the finger at the other  for failing to lead is nothing more than the pot calling the kettle black. Tinkering with social security and Medicare, if polls are to be believed, is very unpopular. Both the President and Republicans know it. Both are falling all over themselves to force the other to tackle the thousand pound gorilla in the federal deficit room and nothing will be done until 2012...unless both parties take the responsibility simultaneously and give  bi-partisan cover to anyone who includes it in their campaign platform, so long as their opponents do likewise.   In truth, Social Security is not yet critical, being sound until 2037, but we must begin soon, 2013 is good enough, to head off the jolt in 2037. Medicare is a very sensitive  bone of contention, and the most pressing.  "Obamacare" prolonged its life 12 years, and Republicans want to defund that, without offering a replacement proposal. that is popular. Neither raising the eligibility
to 70 years old nor privatization putting the  retirement safety net in  risky financial markets. . are popular, either.  To overcome the  political hump, both parties will have to wait until after 2012 and come up with a plan for which both can take responsibility together  and be on the same page.

The other gorillas  in the room is the defense budget. Cuts proposed by the Obama administration is only a beginning. The very real problem is that to make real cuts, we must get out of  both Afghanistan and Iraq and cut unnecessary weapons systems that even the Pentagon does not want.
However, as Dwight Eisenhower so famously said: beware the military-industrial complex.  So many of those weapons systems and defense facilities are pork barrel plums  for  Congressional and Senate members. Another truism: all politics are local. There in lies the difficulty.   The peace dividend resulting from dis-entanglement from Afghanistan is a long way off, it appears.

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