January 2 – that’s today – was supposed to be the day Congress and President Obama either got their act together to come up with $1.2 trillion in spending cuts – including half from Pentagon accounts – or it would happen automatically.
Of course, that didn’t take place: over the New Year’s weekend the nation’s fearless – let’s make that fearful – leaders punted. They passed a stop-gap measure (again!) that avoided tough choices (again!) until later this year. Battleland has been counting down to this day of reckoning since early last year; looks now like we’ll have at least two more months of dithering before the ax drops.
This has become a bad movie we watch over and over. Everybody likes spending more, but no one wants to raise the taxes needed to pay for the increased spending. Our parents won World War II and built the Interstate Highway System (thanks, Ike!); we have created a $16 trillion debt for our heirs. It’s pretty disgusting where our lawmakers have ended up – thanks to us. Deep cuts in federal spending must be made, and taxes must increase, to pay for the credit high the nation has been on for decades.
Nowhere is the spending/cut contrast more germane than at the Pentagon. The nation’s debt is corroding this country from the inside out, like a 1964 Mustang with a mint paint job but little underneath. If current trends continue, we’re going to end up paying for national security without a nation worth securing.
Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the armed services committee, had it about right about six months ago, when he predicted how Congress would likely deal with the issue. “To say that [there’s]…no chance that Congress would kick the can down the road would be kind of inconsistent with a hell of a lot of evidence,” the Michigan Democrat said in June. “Not only can we kick the can down the road, but I think we have special gym shoes” for just such an assignment.
They laced those sneakers up over the weekend, and the nation is poorer for it…in more ways than one.