There’s a lesson for President Barack Obama and every member of Congress in the lyrics to the old Lovin’ Spoonful hit about having to make up your mind:
“Did you ever have to make up your mind?
Pick up on one and leave the other one behind
It’s not often easy, and not often kind
Did you ever have to make up your mind?
Did you ever have to finally decide?
Say yes to one and let the other one ride
There’s so many changes, and tears you must hide
Did you ever have to finally decide? “
Washington, D.C., politicians in both parties finally have to decide to begin making genuine spending cuts, including terminating duplicative and ineffective programs, and reforming entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Doing that requires leaving their old tax-and-spend, deficits-be-damned habits behind.
It won’t be easy, it definitely won’t be kind to some, and so many of the changes that follow inevitably will produce oceans of tears among legions who have lived off tax dollars for too long. Even so, here’s the key fact concerning domestic issues now confronting America’s national leaders: They no longer have any choice in the matter if they want to prevent the nation from sinking further into an economic morass of spiraling taxes, national bankruptcy, currency devaluation and inflation.
Whatever his motivation for doing so, Obama deserves credit for at least putting forth one concrete proposal to move the government off the dime. He proposes to freeze for three years some federal spending — defense, homeland security and entitlements are exempted — and thereby save an estimated $250 billion. This is little more than a political fig leaf in a budget with a $1.3 trillion deficit.
But, as the president said, it’s a starting point, one that can be built upon to change the current congressional debate from how much more debt are we going to pile onto our children and grandchildren to what must be cut today to give them a chance to have the same prosperity tomorrow that we and our parents enjoyed.
Obama has an opportunity now to demonstrate the kind of post-partisan leadership he promised during the 2008 presidential campaign. To do so, he must reach out to Republicans and conservatives in Congress and make them genuine partners with conscientious Democrats in a credible process that will stop the flood of red ink, end failed federal programs and restore a balanced budget — without raising federal taxes.
America’s problem is not that our people pay too little in taxes, it’s that our politicians spend too much. Cut the spending first, then we can talk about taxes.