Ken Connor
Slouching toward mediocrity
By Ken Connor
March 25, 2011

It's deja vu all over again in Washington, as Republicans and Democrats face off over the budget and the possibility of a government shut-down looms on the horizon. Just as in the budget showdown of 1995, the liberal Left is doing everything in its power to skew the terms of the debate, invoking class-warfare rhetoric and tired caricatures of heartless, evil conservatives in order to deflect attention from their unwillingness to enact meaningful spending cuts. Nancy Pelosi best represents the deluded, head-in-the-sand mentality that prevails on the Left when it comes to the subject of fiscal responsibility. Referring to Democrats' growing frustration with the budget debate, she said "It's not about money. It's about the morality of what we're doing."

Only a career politician could dismiss a $3.8 trillion budget deficit and $14 trillion debt in such oversimplified, incomplete, and dishonest terms. This isn't a few thousand dollars between friends we're talking about here, or some sort of fictional fable — it's a massive financial crisis with sweeping implications for America's future. Ms. Pelosi is right about one thing: There is most definitely a moral component to America's debt and deficit crisis, and we all share a portion of the culpability for ignoring it for so long. For continuing to spend like drunken sailors with no regard for the long-term implications of our actions, we are guilty as charged. For saddling our grandchildren with a crushing debt burden that will hamper their economic liberty and stifle their quality of life, we should be ashamed. And for having ignored our role as an international model of political and economic liberty, we have placed more than our own national fate at risk.

Yet Ms. Pelosi, her congressional cohorts, and President Obama refuse to come to grips with reality and put a stop to the reckless spending that threatens to capsize our economy. Their preferred alternatives? Monetize the debt by printing money! Borrow a few trillion from foreign countries! Never mind that this will inevitably result in rampant inflation, the devaluation of the US dollar, and ever increasing indebtedness to forces with a vested interest in seeing the United States economically and strategically weakened.

The situation is close to reaching a boiling point. Congress can only pass so many stop-gap budget measures. In the end, it will likely come down to a game of political chicken. Do Republicans have the courage to derail this runaway train, or will the Beltway establishment be successful in their efforts to cloud the issues? Former Congressman and likely presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has been down this road before, and his message for Republicans is clear: Stick to your principles, even if it means a government shutdown, and despite the political consequences:

"Our attempt to balance the federal budget was distorted in the news media as an effort to ruin family vacations, frustrate visitors to the nation's capital and prevent government employees from going to work. . . . Nonetheless, the ultimate result was the first four consecutive balanced budgets since the 1920s, paying off more than $450 billion in federal debt. . . . The lesson for today's House Republicans is simple: Work to keep the government open, unless it requires breaking your word to the American people and giving up your principles. Becoming one more promise-breaking, Washington-dominated, sellout group is a much worse fate — politically and ethically — than having the government close for a few days. . . . Another shutdown of the federal government is not an ideal result, but for House Republicans, breaking their word would be far worse."

If someone doesn't step up and take a risk to stop America's runaway debt and deficit train, the whole country will go over the cliff. Undoubtedly, it will take courage, fortitude, determination, and a rhino hide to start cutting the budget in a meaningful way, but if we don't, what's the alternative? Regardless of what Nancy Pelosi seems to believe, there will be very REAL consequences for inaction on this issue. America cannot continue on this course of reckless irresponsibility without suffering the consequences: national bankruptcy, compromised security, and the certain loss of America's status as an economic and political superpower. And should America fall into mediocrity there will certainly be a rapid move to fill the void. Does our President wish to see China rise to prominence as the world's only superpower because we lack the discipline and vision to get our fiscal house in order? Perhaps Ms. Pelosi would prefer an international community dominated by a consortium of oil sheikhs, or perhaps a South American despot like Hugo Chavez?

As fond as the Left may be of casting America as the world's great villain, they should be careful what they wish for. Without America's political and moral example in the world (reinforced by our economic and military power), any hopes for the continued advancement of global political liberty and universal human rights would be greatly compromised. It will be a tragedy if these preventable outcomes come to pass because our representatives are too short-sighted, self-centered, and cowardly to set-aside politics as usual in favor of decisive and meaningful action. The time for posturing and rhetoric is over.

If we don't get serious, and fast, it will soon be too late to stop this runaway train.

© Ken Connor


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