The national debt of $16.4 trillion dollars should be item #1 on President Obama’s agenda. And it was, back in December when he had the fiscal cliff to deal with. For months before December, we heard about his balanced approach– which the public generally agreed with– providing for increases in revenue (raising taxes) and decreases in government spending.
In December’s fiscal cliff showdown, Republicans showed themselves to be horrific negotiators, which led to President Obama getting his way. In the “deal” with Republicans, taxes increased for annual earnings over $400,000.00. Notably missing from the deal were cuts from entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.
One curious thing about the lack of spending cuts was that it appears cuts to Medicare were never really on the table in December. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (IL) told David Gregory on Meet the Press that fixing Medicare would take too long for it to be even considered in the fiscal cliff negotiations. Why the hell weren’t people looking at potential cuts to Medicare in the months before December 2012? Did the necessity of spending cuts to Medicare catch President Obama, Dick Durbin and everyone else in Washington by surprise?
So since he got his way on tax increases, what has the President said about necessary spending cuts to the budget?
We have heard lipservice from the President that spending will have to be cut, but we have not seen any specificity on where and how those cuts will be made. In this, it appears President Obama has punted– and given Republicans the task of cutting Medicare and Social Security. And rather than address spending cuts in the debt limit showdown next month– President Obama has said he’ll just take money from civil service retirement funds rather than spar with Congress on the debt ceiling.
Oh, and wait! Now there are other issues that have grabbed his attention. Gun control is now the President Obama’s Issue #1. In the wake of the devastating crime in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama now wants federal laws outlawing assault weapons and has put most, if not all, of his energies into getting that done. Although I support the President on this endeavor– his focus on it is misplaced. First, if the goal is to protect children from harm, as the President has stated, then like the deficit, a balanced approach must be taken. The President should take on the NRA and it’s “arm everyone” mentality. But “winning” against the NRA doesn’t solve the problem if kids and adults still play violent videogames and if violent programming is shown 24/7 in our homes on Showtime or HBO. Hollywood has to be more responsible for the movies it puts out– which means Obama has to tap his Hollywood donors to get them to address some of the crap it produces.
Additionally, will outlawing certain guns really stop the epidemic? Chicago had 506 murders last year. How many of those murders were with legally purchased guns? I’d bet very few of the murderers went through background checks prior to gunning down someone on Chicago’s streets. So is getting more gun control laws really protecting our children? With gun control measures in place, will these monsters still be able to get a gun, enter a school or movie theater and cut down innocents? Will children walking to school on Chicago’s south side be safer? Absolutely not. I’ve never done cocaine. But, if I wanted to I could get some and I don’t think it would take very long. The same is true with an assault weapon. Making them illegal doesn’t mean they go away. If someone wants one, he or she will be able to get it.
Plus, if President Obama really wants to protect children, he’ll address the $16.4 trillion national debt. His continued failure to lead his party and the nation in seeking spending cuts puts our children more at risk than assault rifles. President Obama must put more energy and much more of his political capital toward cutting spending. He has admitted that Medicare and Social Security programs must be changed, otherwise, our nation will go bankrupt. Yet, I have not seen President Obama put any political capital into solving this issue.
The national debt should be the President’s #1 issue. Hopefully, we’ll see him pivot and lead his party and the country to a viable solution on Medicare and Social Security. However, given his continued talk and no action on spending cuts, we’re more likely to see the national debt go over $17 trillion rather than him making real proposals on spending cuts.