Columns / Discourse / February 23, 2011

Observing America: Hiding from budgets

The American people are in need of leadership. When it comes to balancing the budget and looking straight into people’s eyes, few politicians are honest. President Obama and Wisconsin’s state senators are both kicking the bucket down the road and not solving the problems that need to be solved.

Wisconsin is at the pinnacle of a leadership crisis. Scott Walker, newly elected Wisconsin Republican Governor, proposed a controversial budget plan that is estimated to meet the current $137 million deficit. To meet this deficit, however, the government of Wisconsin will force public employees, excluding police, firefighters and public safety personnel, to contribute “5.8 percent of their pay to pensions, and pay at least 12.6 percent of health-care premiums, up from an average of six percent” (http://online.wsj.com/). As a result of these increases, the governor says that the state will save 170,000 public jobs. How did the Wisconsin Democrats react?

Fourteen Wisconsin Democratic state senators left their state to prevent a quorum. These 14 Senators fled to Illinois because they believe that the budget’s plan to strip away collective bargaining from unions will “destroy the middle class,” as Assistant Democratic leader Sen. Dave Hansen said (http://www.politico.com/news).

This same kind of demagoguery was made in Washington. President Obama said that Governor Walker “making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally seems like more of an assault on unions” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/). Thus, President Obama wants to guard the old unions instead of talking about budgetary issues.

The Democrats in Wisconsin and Capitol Hill are wrong about budgets. They tend to believe that cutting spending will hurt the economy, but if spending is not cut and the budget is not balanced, then education, entitlements like Medicaid and Medicare, and roads and bridges will be underfunded. These are programs that the middle class enjoys. If stripping away collective bargaining and finally forcing public employees to pay for their pensions will allow funding to be allocated to programs that the middle class needs, so be it. Democrats have to face the people and tell it how it is.

For instance, President Obama is using the Wisconsin crisis to deflect attention from his own proposed budget plan. His budget plan proposes no reforms on entitlement spending which contributes 60 percent of government spending. In 2020, entitlement spending will contribute 68 percent. Those are numbers that should scare the American people.

Here is the hard truth: the American Left is irresponsible. Unions should not be an obstacle in balancing the budget. President Obama and those 14 Senators should step up and lead, not flee, the situation. Instead of addressing these important numbers, Democrats are afraid they won’t get reelected. Leaders are needed, not quitters.

Alex Uzarowicz
Alex Uzarowicz has been a weekly conservative political columnist for The Knox Student for three years. He also writes for The College Conservative. Alex will graduate in June 2013 with a degree in political science, after which he will head abroad to begin his Peace Corps service.


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