Bogus Budget Battle

By Anna Kawar, staff editor So, the government averted a shutdown. Again. To be honest, I’m not even sure what to attribute this “success” to. Everything has become so jumbled that it’s hard to follow who the “heroes” are—especially with the budget debate turning into outright moral warfare. I read this Russian joke used in reference to what has been happening, and I think it’s a perfect way to describe recent events: "We were at the edge of the cliff. Now we've taken a giant step forward."

Boehner was on Fox News last week talking about the next step in the budget war: raising the debt limit. He said that he will refuse to do what the President is supposedly asking, which is to “to increase the limit on the credit card without doing anything about the source of the problem.” Unfortunately, the Republican-backed budget that was passed still requires raising the debt limit.

And when and where, amongst all this fighting, has this magic “source” of debt and out-of-control government spending been revealed. Is it health care? I have no idea, because Republicans would rather repeal Obama’s bill than work with it—or propose a different way—to address an obvious source of growing cost for the US government. Is it entitlements? Again, not sure, because the most recent proposal is to privatize Social Security instead of addressing its growing cost. This would put the federal government’s most successful program in the same situation as health care: de-centralized, unregulated, and expensive. I should take this opportunity to say that the Democrats have also failed to productively address entitlement programs, which are the “primary drivers of the rising national debt.”

The only issue that’s really been a focus for both sides (in the form of a push by the right, and reaction from the left, as usual) is to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Now I must admit I’m an idealist, so I refuse to believe that the Republicans actually think funding for Planned Parenthood is a significant issue in the budget debate; therefore, I can only assume it’s a political ploy to avoid the real issues. Even still, the argument is pretty unfounded. Planned Parenthood doesn’t use federal funds for abortions, and abortions constitute only 3% of its services. Take away Planned Parenthood, and what would happen? Increased visits to the ER for dangerous pregnancies and increased use of ICUs for babies and mothers who don’t get prenatal care—in other words, more unnecessary health care spending by eliminating cost-saving preventative care.

The point of my rant is to question when a bogus budget battle will become a legitimate discussion by our government as part of setting long-term goals for this country—an understanding that spending needs to be considered an investment for our future, and that the future we want is one where people are truly healthy, smart, productive citizens. Cutting millions and billions here and there is not an effective solution, neither is calling people who depend on Planned Parenthood “hookers.”  We need to think beyond the next election and take the future of this country seriously, especially when the outlook is already so bleak.

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Standard and Poor’s is right