Congress and the White House are moving through the liberal wish list — stimulus, cap-and-trade, health care, and maybe a few other spending gambits. But all the while there is an underlying reality to which they seem bizarrely oblivious. The Washington Post editors remind us (and them):
Both President Obama and leading congressional Democrats were less than thrilled when the CBO estimated that the costs of universal health coverage would be much higher than advertised. To be sure, projecting the cost of legislation involves making assumptions and constructing models that may or may not prove accurate 10 years down the road. Nonetheless, the CBO, with its tradition of scholarly independence, is the best available arbiter, and Congress must heed its numbers — like them or not.
Now comes the CBO with yet more news of the sort that neither Capitol Hill nor the White House is likely to welcome: its freshly released report on the federal government’s long-term financial situation. To put it bluntly, the fiscal policy of the United States is unsustainable. Debt is growing faster than gross domestic product. Under the CBO’s most realistic scenario, the publicly held debt of the U.S. government will reach 82 percent of GDP by 2019 — roughly double what it was in 2008. By 2026, spiraling interest payments would push the debt above its all-time peak (set just after World War II) of 113 percent of GDP. It would reach 200 percent of GDP in 2038.
Is there some plan to address this? No. Instead, the gameplan is to do more — spend more, regulate more, and hire more federal workers to micromanage more and more of the economy from Washington. The dichotomy between what they are doing (working on plans to spend more) and what should be done (find ways to spend less) is startling. At times the president himself declares the fiscal situation to be “unsustainable” — and then he goes back to hawking a public option, universal health care plan that will multiply our fiscal woes.
The situation is made more acute by the realization that all the spending hasn’t gotten us anything. The stimulus plan didn’t bring jobs and isn’t rebuilding our infrastructure. CBO’s study was so devastating not only because of the price-tag it placed on ObamaCare but because it rightly pointed out that the reduction in the number of uninsured was disappointingly modest in relation to the cost. In short, we are building a mountain of debt for no appreciable reason. We spend for the sake of spending and derive nothing of lasting (or even transitory) value.
No wonder the voters are alarmed. The question remains: when will Congress and the president be?