In his latest “Happy Warrior” column for National Review, Mark Steyn offers some sobering data about federal fiscal problems:
The government of the United States is currently borrowing about $4 billion a day. The Republicans recently secured an alleged landmark victory over Democrats that cut 38-point-something billion dollars from the budget. How many weeks of clenched-teeth high-stakes brinksmanship did it take to negotiate ten days’ worth of cuts?
Did I say ten days’ worth? Oh wait. That was on Friday night. By the following Tuesday afternoon, over half of the $38.5 billion had been exposed as various meaningless sleights of hand of which government … can avail itself very easily — for example, counting money in the Justice Department’s crime victims’ reserve fund that was never scheduled to be spent this year as “savings” of $4.9 billion. Real savings — that’s to say, the kind that would pass muster according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles — were around $14 billion — or, in other words, less than the U.S. government borrowed in the four days between the announcing of the “historic cuts” and their exposure as utterly fraudulent.
If it takes four days to agree on two and a half days’ worth of “cuts,” how much time and energy and political capital would the Republicans have to expend to negotiate a budget reduction of, say, $300 billion? Whoa, steady on, man. That’s big bucks, a third of a trillion: We’d be tagged as “extremists.” Whereas borrowing $300 billion isn’t in the least bit “extreme”: It takes two and a half months, and it’s business as usual.