The Norman Transcript

Opinion

October 1, 2013

Budget tomfoolery courts real harm

Some day soon — we can only hope — Congress will work seriously on the nation’s long-term budget dilemma.

At some point — you’d think — these elected leaders would tire of brinkmanship over whether and how much to extend the nation’s borrowing limit so the U.S. can pay its bills and issue Social Security checks.

None of that is happening now, but optimists can imagine that it will one day.

The saddest part about the back-and-forth between the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Republicans of one stripe and Republicans of another stripe, this past week has been that none of it even begins to solve the most serious U.S. budget problems.

The $4 trillion spending plan that expires at midnight Monday itself is narrow in scope, and discussions in both the House and Senate would keep it narrow.

The bill approved by the House on Sept. 20 would authorize spending only through Dec. 15, and the bill passed by the Senate on Friday would cut that back to Nov. 15.

There are significant budget problems even in the short term. The across-the-board automatic spending cuts known as sequestration are a mindless abomination of budgeting.

It is even more inexcusable that it comes as the economy is struggling to grow. This is a time for smart budgeting, not dumb budgeting.

But the real problems are long-term. Annual deficits, and long-term debt growth that can strangle fiscal progress, are projected to rise significantly in coming years as more and more baby boomers draw Social Security and Medicare benefits.

There are legitimate disagreements about what kinds of tax and spending policies would constitute the best approach to unsustainable trends, but continuing to spend so much time and energy narrowly focused on the short term can only lead to disaster.

Finally, Congress has developed a bad habit of toying with real harm to the economy every time the nation approaches the limit on its borrowing capacity.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Quite the resilient bunch

    The people of Moore are a resilient bunch. They’ve bounced back from tornadoes before, but the current renaissance may be the quickest yet. FEMA officials said it would take two years to see some sense of normalcy. That’s hardly the case....

    July 24, 2014

  • A fresh start for VA

    All of us have high hopes for the confirmation and success of Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald. If confirmed — and most believe he’s a shoe-in — McDonald will take over a paralyzed system of health care that is not ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Call up National Guard

    We’re not sure it will help, but you have to hand it to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He deployed up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure his state’s border with Mexico this week....

    July 23, 2014

  • It’s only getting worse

    Conditions for children in Oklahoma were starting to look up for a few years, according to the annual Kids Count reports. Now we know it wasn’t getting better. The recession was impacting the rest of the country, dropping their scores....

    July 23, 2014

  • Noting a life well lived

    James Garner never intended to be a movie and television star. He just kind of lucked into it, he would tell those who asked. If you have the itch to act, get a good-paying job and spend your free time at your local community theater, he ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Recount that really matters

    Americans have been hearing a lot about Congressional elections, but there’s another one halfway around the globe that will matter far more....

    July 22, 2014

  • Runoffs get no respect

    The Aug. 26 Republican runoff election for the Cleveland County District 3 commissioner post is one of only 18 races on ballots around the state. Only two races are statewide — the Democrat contests for U.S. Senator nominee and state ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Change some lines

    Editor, The Transcript: Looking at how our elected Republican friends are reacting to the refugee children crossing the border and now being housed in Lawton, I have a suggestion. Let’s edit the Christian Bible in several places to reflect ...

    July 21, 2014

  • New health care system demonized

    To the Editor: In October 2013, soon after we were asked to take over management responsibilities at our family business, we were visited by the company’s health insurance agent. She explained that a decision needed to be made regarding ...

    July 21, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014