Ryan/Murry deal needs more Iacoccas to stand up for budget, military

December 18, 2013
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When House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI) and his counterpart in the Senate, Senator Patty Murray (D, WA) stepped up to the podium last week to announce that they had reached an agreement on a two year budget deal many in the professional punditry class were already praising it as a breakthrough for the ages, the beginning of a brave new world of bi-partisan compromise.

Now I’m no professional but I have been following such going’s on since a guy named Nixon told us he wasn’t a crook and I can assure you, the “professionals” heaping praise on Ryan and Murray right now are about as correct as Nixon was in ’74.

Coming just weeks after the National Park Service erecting barricades around the WWII memorial and military families being denied death benefits Ryan was in no mood to return Republicans to the black hole of government shutdown and Murray was desperate to free Democrats from the sequester that for two years had curtailed their spending spree.

But the deal is nothing new.  Politics over policy, punt over product, Washington as normal.

Increased spending now paid for by promises to be kept later.  Never mind those promises cannot be kept because one Congress cannot impose upon future Congresses.  (See, “Reagan -O’Neil budget deal” – or – “Doc Fix, Medicare”)

The deal does not address the true driver of our budget dilemma: entitlements, provides no relief from the devastation the Affordable Care Act and ignores long term unemployment benefits.

In short, no addressing of anything of importance to anyone not already insulated inside the beltway of Washington.

Topping it off, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Ok released his 2013 “Wastebook” yesterday.  A compilation of some of the worst of the worst of federal spending it is an annual reminder to just how nonsensical Washington, D.C. has become.

The total this year is around $30 billion and ranges from destroying $7 billion worth of military equipment as we pull out of Afghanistan to the State Department blowing over $600 grand to increase its “likes” on its Facebook page.

You don’t have to be a fan of Coburn to realize that the amount of waste and just plain stupid being perpetrated upon the American taxpayer these days is staggering.

But it’s not just the politicians to blame, it’s an attitude.

Take two men from two different times:  Lee Iacocca, the former Chrysler icon and Dan Akerson current CEO of General Motors.

In 1983 Iacocca delivered a payoff check with interest for the government loans he had secured for Chrysler in 1978 and stated with pride:  “We at Chrysler borrow money the old-fashioned way. We pay it back.”

30 years later, Akerson, speaking at the National Press Club, squashed the thought of GM repaying any of the $10 billion loss U.S. taxpayers took on GM stock with President Obama’s bailout plan by rationalizing that Treasury took the same risk as anyone else who purchased stock and therefore GM owes nothing.

What a difference indeed.  Iacocca paying off seven years ahead of schedule vs Akerson’s “you played the game, you pay the price”.

So here we are.  We’re supposed to just ‘ho-hum’ the loss of $10 billion as our own fault for not being smarter investors and we’re supposed to be all Christmas cheer that out of projected spending of over $40 TRILLION this next decade, the Ryan/Murray deal delivers $23 billion of empty promise.

No wonder America’s in one very cynical mood.

What we really need for Christmas this year is fewer Akerson’s and more Iacocca’s.

UPDATE 1 (0630 – 12/18/13):  The worst of the worst of the Ryan/Murray deal is the $6 billion dollar cut to military retirees.  INCLUDING disabled and medical retirees.  Dems killed an amendment yesterday that would have restored those cuts and paid for them with savings elsewhere in the budget but Harry Reid was having none of it.  His, Chuck Schumer’s and the rest of the disgusting “leadership” position in the Senate these days, puts generic Federal workers sitting all cushy in their cubicles on the same level as the military.  So if they’ve got to take a hit, it’s time for the grunts to suck it up too.  Pathetic.

But to make matters worse, here’s the money quote from Jeff Sessions R, AL  via the Daily Caller:

“Removing this unbalanced treatment of our military retirees ought to be one of the key actions we should take before this legislation moves forward. In fact, greater savings than this can be achieved by passing a legislative fix recommended by the Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury that would stop the IRS from improperly providing tax credits to illegal aliens,” Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions said Monday, announcing his co-sponsorship of Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker’s amendment to restore the military retirement benefits Monday

PUBLISHER’s NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the December 18th, 2013 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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