Cheering for America’s Government
Sen. Joe Manchin has been labeled everything from not being a “team player” to a Republican in Democrat’s clothing. The criticism grew especially heated last week as President Joe Biden’s proposed social services and climate change bill shrank even further, to about $1.75 trillion.
Yet a statement from Sen. Manchin—he the small-state leader who is eliciting cheers from a number of my fellow West Virginians—issued a month earlier said it all:
“Spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs . . . is the definition of fiscal insanity.”
Manchin made those remarks when the bill sat at $3.5 trillion before it got downsized further. The reason: to gain the votes of Sens. Manchin and Krysten Sinema of Arizona. Support that is crucial in an evenly-divided upper chamber.
Wherever it ultimately lands, we can thank those two Democrats for shaving the size of the deficit-spending measure. Despite promises by President Joe Biden that the measure won’t raise taxes, I tend to be a skeptic when anyone in our nation’s capital talks about fiscal prudence.
A Flow of Government Red Ink
A few days after seeing Manchin’s quote, I read an Associated Press story about the latest federal deficit hitting $2.77 trillion. That was history’s second-highest, ranking only behind the post-real-estate-crash year of 2009.
In round figures, about 72% of that red ink was related to emergency COVID-19-related legislation Congress passed in the early days of lockdowns and widespread masking. Granted, like all of you, I accepted the stimulus checks, but at some point we need to apply the brakes.
At the rate we’re going, the nation’s deficit will soon be triple its level since President Bush II left office. Fiscal sanity hinges on the courage of senators like Manchin and Sinema, who have been catching intense grief for their stand.
Of course, adding even $1.75 trillion to the red ink on our financial statement isn’t a great idea, but when you consider this all started out as a $6 trillion wish list, it is progress.
The System Works
There’s another sometimes-overlooked point to all the hubbub over the recalcitrant Democrats holding things up: this is how our democratic republic government works.
While our nation’s founders have been taking it on the chin lately from all things woke, I think we should pause to thank them for the system of checks and balances that characterize America’s government.
Passing legislation and spending bills in Washington, D.C. is a bear. There are numerous competing interests, influences, lobbyists and power brokers exerting their voices.
Sometimes, all it takes is a pair of senators unwilling to bow to peer pressure to throw a monkey wrench in the works.
And for that, we can be thankful. Our system prevents would-be dictators from seizing power a la a banana republic. It inhibits free-spending, devil-may-care-about-our increasing-red-ink Congressional representatives from having their way. It makes things tough to accomplish too, but in the process it prevents runaway trains from gathering too much steam.