We also need entitlements reform, but we're not likely to get more than window dressing changes there either.
Our politicians are not serious public servants. They're serious politicians.
And while serious public servants would make the tough decisions necessary to get our country's finances on a solid path to balance between revenues and expenditures, serious politicians will do nothing of the sort.
Unfortunately, providing serious public service is not how they get elected and stay elected, and elections are the only two really serious priorities of serious politicians everywhere.
NIMBY Deficit Hawks tells the tale using one "conservative" senator from Kansas as an example. Of course, the lesson applies to "public servants" from other states and politicians of all stripes.
In the end, it's just another illustration of why politics sucks.
"Jerry Moran often repeated the Republican party’s magical incantation when he was running for senator from Kansas in 2010: “We don’t have a revenue problem – we have a spending problem.” After he was elected, he continued the drumbeat, and supported using the debt ceiling as a threat to enact more budget cuts. He opposed the 2011 budget deal that led to the sequester, not because he was against the sequester but because it didn’t cut spending enough.
But now that the sequester is in place, and discretionary spending is about to drop to historically low levels, Mr. Moran has a problem: One of the programs facing cuts is in his own backyard. Specifically, he’s angry that the sequester will force the Federal Aviation Administration to reduce staffing at many rural airports, including some in Kansas. And so he has been banging on his desk for the last few days, demanding an amendment to restore that funding.
“Once there is an accident, and somebody dies and a plane crashes, the question will always be, what if there had been an air traffic control tower there?” Mr. Moran said. “What if we had left the program in place?”
Of course, you could also make the same point (perhaps less melodramatically) about the millions of unemployed people who will lose benefits, or poor people who will lose housing or nutrition assistance, or the vast cuts to education and law enforcement. . . .
There was an amendment to restore tuition assistance for members of the military. An amendment to restore White House tours. An amendment, backed by meatpackers, to restore funding to food inspectors. An amendment to move money from military purchases of biofuels to defense maintenance.
Nearly 100 of these amendments were filed, which would have taken weeks to debate and vote upon. In the end, because of the March 27 deadline, only about 10 were accepted (including meat inspections and tuition assistance, but not rural airports). . . .
But every proposed change gets at the same uncomfortable truth: Lawmakers love to talk about cutting spending. They love to campaign on it. They just don’t like to do it."
What politicians do is generally at odds with what they want We the People to believe they do.
And as long as we're willing to believe what they say, we'll get the kind of governance that serious politicians choose to give us.
And that's a government that helps them win elections.
As I said, politics sucks.