They Don't Need No Stinkin' Budgets!
by Jack Kenny
by Jack Kenny
Every once in a while the truth breaks out, even at a political convention. Those of us with long memories may recall that even dreary Dwight Eisenhower, droning on at the Republican National Convention of 1964, suddenly lit a match under the dozing delegates when the former president mentioned "those sensation seeking columnists and commentators." The nominee of that convention seemingly did himself in when, instead of extending the olive branch of "moderation," he spoke his mind, saying: "Extremism in defense of liberty in no vice." One of the sensation-seeking columnists or commentators supposedly said: "My god! He (Goldwater) is going to run as Goldwater!"
In the presidential campaign of 1992, one of the issues most talked about was the deficit spending being carried out by supposedly conservative Republicans. It was the last year of Bush the elder and Philosopher King Mario Cuomo, then the governor of New York, was in an anchor booth at the Democratic National Convention, telling the audience of one of the major networks how badly the Republicans had failed. Republicans are supposed to be good at two things, Cuomo said: waging war and managing money. They were still pretty good at waging war, he said, but at managing money, they'd been a disaster.
Actually what the Republicans used to be good at was keeping the country out of war, but neither party cares a rat's keister about that anymore. But the Republicans still can't manage money, as is even more clear in the administration of Bush the younger. And they are having a very difficult time finding success in war as well.
We have, after all, Republic majorities in both houses of Congress and a Republican administration in the White House. Yet spending by Congress these days routinely exceeds revenues by some $400 billion or more each year and George W. Bush, in the sixth year of his presidency, has yet to find his veto pen. At the rate we are going, we are piling up an impressive debt for future generations. And it is the blessings of liberty, not the unholy consequences of our profligate spending, that we our supposed to be building up "for ourselves and our posterity."
Now Judd Gregg, New Hampshire's senior member of the U.S. Senate and chairman of its Budget Committee, has quite a reputation as a fiscal conservative. It is a reputation that, ironically, seems only enhanced by his demonstrated ability to leverage federal dollars for projects and institutions in good old frugal, rock-ribbed Republican New Hampshire. Yet Chairman Gregg, according to a recent report by syndicated columnist Robert Novak, has determined there aren't enough votes to pass a budget the senators can live with. So there will be no budget this year. The senators, poor souls, just can't make the tough decisions about spending priorities that a budget would require. Surely, it is through no fault of their own that we have sent these highly talented and accomplished men and women to Washington to do the one thing they are unable to do: make decisions.
As Novak noted, senators were unable to choose between additional funds for home heating assistance in the northern states and such notable expenditures as $246,000 for lowbush blueberry research and $300,000 for the George and Barbara Bush Cultural Center at the University of Maine. He did not mention any of the largesse Sen. Gregg has bestowed on the University of New Hampshire over the years, a generosity duly noted by university officials a year or so ago when they named a building after the senator. Nor did Novak mention the millions of federal dollars the frugal Senator Gregg obtained for the conversion of a U.S. Army Reserve building in Goffstown into the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College. The good Benedictine monks who run the college did not name the building after the senator, but they did award him an honorary degree and they no doubt pray for him daily.
As should we, even as we pray for our blessed republic under the mountain of debt that Sen. Gregg and his colleagues have built for us. To paraphrase Tiny Tim, "God help us, every one!"
March 28, 2006
Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.
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