Jane Chastain is a Southern California-based broadcaster, author and political commentator. Despite her present emphasis on politics, Jane always will be remembered as the nation's first female TV sportscaster, spending 17 years on the sports beat. Jane blogs at JaneChastain.com. She is a pilot who lives on a private runway.More ↓Less ↑
The unrest in Egypt is unsettling. The possibility that the country could fall under the control of the Muslin Brotherhood would cause numerous dangerous problems. The news media are in hyperdrive covering events in Cairo. Unfortunately, what we are seeing on the nightly news and most cable outlets could be described as “all Egypt, all the time.” As a result, the American public is being poorly served.
This is a seminal moment in the life of our country. The actions taken by our elected representatives over the next few weeks are critical to our survival as a free and prosperous nation. The United States is teetering on the brink of financial collapse as three important deadlines converge:
Congress failed to pass a 2011 budget, and the temporary spending measure, which allowed the government to keep operating, expires on March 4.
The country will hit the debt ceiling (the limit of its borrowing authority) about a month later.
President Obama presents his 2012 budget.
Currently, the federal government is borrowing 40 cents for every dollar it takes in, which is putting some $1.5 trillion on the nation’s credit card each and every year.
What’s the fastest-growing portion of the federal budget? It’s not Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, although these three behemoth entitlements will bankrupt the country if they are not reformed very soon. According to Rich Barbieri, at CNNMoney.com, the fastest-growing portion of the budget is the interest on the national debt. Through the first four months of the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, we have paid $80 billion in interest. That’s a 9.1 percent increase over the same period last year. In the 2010 fiscal year, interest costs rose 13.2 percent. We can’t go on like this!
We have two choices: Raise taxes or decrease spending. The former never works. Stephen Moore and Richard Vedder reported the results of a study in the Nov. 22, 2010, Wall Street Journal that shows that over the entire post-World War II era through 2009, every dollar of new tax revenue was associated with $1.17 of new spending. Bottom line, our elected representatives will not put the brakes on until we break them.
Republicans were given control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections with a mandate to cut federal spending. Easier said then done with Democrats in control of the Senate and Obama in the White House. The first two deadlines are likely to trigger a government shutdown. Therefore, it is imperative that every American knows exactly what is at stake and remains fully engaged.
On Monday, with the news media glued to Egypt, President Obama will reveal his 2012 budget. One thing is sure: It will not put us on the road to financial stability. He gave us a “heads up” in his State of the Union message. With a $14 trillion dollar national debt, the best fix he could come up with was a five-year “freeze” on domestic discretionary spending. Obama increased domestic discretionary spending by a whopping 21 percent over the last two years and now he wants to freeze it at this inflated rate. That is an insult to American citizens who are left holding the bag for this debt!
Will the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives accept the president’s budget as is? Not a chance. The new leaders are working on a budget of their own, and they have promised to roll back domestic discretionary spending to 2008 levels. Many would like to go further, but this is the very least we should accept.
Meanwhile, the House is working on a budget for the balance of this fiscal year. Last fall Republicans promised they would cut $100 billion from Obama’s 2011 budget request. With seven months remaining in the current fiscal year, that translates to $58 billion. Conservatives in the House will be pushing for the full $100 billion. We need those cuts and more!
Finally, there will be another battle when the nation maxes out its credit card and members will vote on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. When you find yourself in a hole, common sense tells you, “Stop digging!” This kind of borrowing cannot be sustained.
So you see, over the next few weeks, the biggest danger to our country is not what happens to Egypt, but what happens on Capitol Hill. If your favorite news source isn’t leading with the battle over the budget and giving this struggle as much coverage as the struggle for control in Egypt, make a call and complain. Then switch to one that will.