The Debt Deal: First Look

I will have more to say about the debt deal later in the day; so far, I haven’t seen some basic data–like how much spending will actually be “cut,” i.e. prevented from rising as fast as the baseline, for FY 2012 and 2013. The trillions of dollars in cuts now being trumpeted I regard as mainly fictitious. For now, let’s hear from Senator Jeff Sessions, who has been the GOP’s belwether on this issue:

I am glad that this matter appears to be on its way to resolution prior to August 2nd. However, I have warned from the very beginning that by shunning our legislative process and Senate heritage we would find ourselves in the 11th hour forced to vote on a bill with little or no time for meaningful review or public engagement, and without any chance to amend the work. This chain of events was set into motion by the president’s absolute unwillingness to offer any concrete plan to reduce the spending he radically surged over the last two years, combined with the Democrat Senate’s derelict refusal to adopt a budget for 823 days.

Republicans offered budgets and bills with trillions more in spending cuts than contained in the current legislation. They lowered their proposal substantially so Democrats would end their blockade. That took courage. But the one fact every American must know is that the level of cuts in this proposal are only a first step. Far more work and much greater reductions in spending are required to balance the budget.

The good news is that we are finally cutting spending, and our Republican leadership deserves credit for fighting hard to achieve this level of cuts given the fierce resistance from Washington’s Democrat majority and the president’s veto pen. No progress would have been possible but for the voters who rose up last election and kicked so many big spenders out of office. But much more work remains. Sound, lasting reform cannot be achieved through special committee or secret meetings, but will require the vigorous participation of the full Senate and the public we serve.

That is, I think, clearly correct. Conservatives can take some satisfaction from the fact that the 2010 election has allowed us to begin to make a stand against profligate federal spending. But we have a long way to go, and that mostly means that there are millions more Americans who need to be educated about the magnitude of the federal debt and the destructive effects of wasteful government spending.