On April 8, Congress and President Obama finally agreed on a short-term budget plan to cut $34 billion in spending and prevent a partial shutdown of the federal government. There has already been heavy debate over whether or not this plan will have really any affect and prevent future shutdown scares, so there is no need to rehash all of it. There are two important elements about this whole situation.
First off, this whole conflict was incredibly childish. Do not let anyone tell you that Congressmen and women were the ones behind the debates over what goes in the budget: This whole thing was perpetuated by children pretending to be congressmen.
The fight over what programs would be kept or cut was not formed out of Congress’ compassion for the American people. Congress, specifically the Republicans, care about helping the American people, but only so as long as what the American people need does not conflict with their own political ideals and does not cost them any money personally. Nobody in Congress wanted to strip Planned Parenthood’s federal funding because it was a sacrifice that needed to be made, one that the economic situation made it impossible for the government to pay for. Rather, the congressmen who wanted Planned Parenthood cut were pro-life and had this warped idea that Planned Parenthood was corrupting society by offering abortions (which only account for three percent of their overall services.)
It is the same situation with the proposed cuts to NPR. Why does Congress suddenly think the $5 million in funding NPR commands is suddenly too much to bear? It’s because the Republicans who now control the House of Representatives want to get rid of the supposedly liberal propaganda of which they that they believe NPR is a symbol.
Essentially, the Republicans, and their "Path to Prosperity" budget plan they proposed this year, don’t want to cut programs to help the American people. They just want to purge the budget of anything they disagree with politically. It’s like parents telling their children they can’t have chocolate not because the chocolate is expensive or unhealthy, but because the parents do not like the taste of chocolate.
Those children would probably hate their parents if that happened, which is why it is frustrating that there isn’t more outrage over the budget plans the Republicans proposed this year. I believe that can maybe be attributed with how the Republicans, more specifically the Tea Party, ran their campaigns. They made things that could be good for the American people, such as tax increases for the wealthy and health care into bastions of evil and anti-Americanism.
Unfortunately, the American people are being screwed over by these corporate frauds. They are so consumed by greed that they can’t even support a whopping three percent increase in taxes for the wealthy, since most politicians would fall into the tax bracket facing the increase.
The idea of a "Path to Prosperity" is a complete farce, and the fact that the government almost had to shut down because politicians disguised greed and agendas under the banner deficit cutting Americans is a complete travesty. This country has gotten used to politicians lying, but nobody in America should stand for having their intelligence insulted. Maybe this lack of empathy can be attributed to the fact that most of Congress doesn’t have intelligence to be insulted, so they would not know how it feels.
Then there is the issue of the compromise that was passed. It laid out the budget for a whopping six months. The deal is the definition of compromise, representing both the good and the bad elements associated with the word. The Environmental Protection Agency lost $1.6 billion in funding. The Women, Infants and Children’s Program, which uses federal funds to help low-income families, lost $500 million, and one of the strangest cuts was the $1 billion cut from stopping the spread of STD’s (so the chances of the environment getting syphilis have sky-rocketed).
The deal can not be considered "good," but it is not a complete disaster. Funding for childhood education programs was increased and Planned Parenthood gets to keep its funding. But maybe the best thing about this whole deal was the pragmatism shown by the Republicans, and that the Democrats did not totally cave to them. The Republicans and Tea Partiers in this piece, deserve credit for showing that they have the ability to work across the aisle. The concessions they made were not very big, but any kind of concessions from this notoriously stubborn group is a good sign.
The last piece of this puzzle is President Obama. On Monday, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column that Obama has lost his passion for change, that while his plan to change Washington was a Herculean task, he has lost the fire he had when he was elected. I am not quite sure, but I do think Obama severely underestimated the difficulty of bringing change to politics. I am sure the idealistic side of Obama hated this compromise, but the pragmatic side of him knew he had no choice but to get a deal done to avoid a shutdown, even if it hurts some American people in the end. One of my high school history teachers said that in a democracy, "you can have your say, but you can’t have your way." With this budget situation and Obama, those words ring true.