Friday, July 20

GOP agrees to a freeze on defense spending

Last night the House approved a defense bill authorizing nearly $606 billion. This amounted to a freeze on defense spending, and "89 Republicans joined 158 Democrats on the key 247-167 vote.”

How...interesting: "Republicans joined Democrats"?? Sounds as though, in the reporter's mind, at least, the Repubs conceded to a Dem bill. Why would that be, when Repubs control the House by a comfortable majority?

Okay, here's why I think the reporter wrote it that way: From a political standpoint, a freeze on spending is like a reduction, since inflation means you can't do as much with the same dollars next year as you did this year. So historically, most gummint departments (and the congresscritters who supposedly oversee their operations) counted on a five or six percent hike each year, like clockwork.

Given that framework, and since the GOP historically favors a strong military, freezing defense spending would seem to be a concession by the Republicans.

And hey, fair enough: country's on the brink of fiscal disaster so everyone is expected to take a budget cut to help the nation avert catastrophe, right? So the Repubs agreed to freeze defense, presumably hoping that by doing so it would prompt their opponents to be similarly cooperative in freezing spending on the myriad social programs that actually account for well over half of all federal expenditures.

But excuse me for suspecting that this hoped-for reciprocity won't materialize: The Dems will continue to insist that social welfare programs be expanded, as they always have and always do. And they'll absolutely pillory any Republican who tries to hold the line.

Republicans strike me as trusting to the point of gullibility, like Charlie Brown taking a running start to try to kick the football Lucy is holding. Every single time he's tried this, she pulls it away at the last moment and he falls flat. But the repeated experience teaches him nothing; he never learns.

In a cartoon strip that's cute. In real life...not so much.

Hope I'm wrong, but in politics experience trumps optimism. I'll predict here and now that the Dem leadership will win increases on social spending. And the Repubs who tried to cooperate with them by voting to freeze defense spending will be like, "Whoa, we thought you guys agreed that both parties needed to work together to reduce spending. And so, like, we helped you freeze defense, but now you won't help us freeze social spending. And like, that just doesn't seem fair, y'know?

So the Dems will see to it that the top GOP leaders get an invitation to George Clooney's next party--ensuring that business as usual in Washington continues.


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