When the GOP took control of the House, the mantra became something like “We might not control the government yet, but we can sure throw a bagful of wrenches into the works.” The metaphorical wrenches are actually proposals to cut government spending in an effort to reduce the deficit. At least that’s how it’s being presented. And that’s not a bad idea. The annual deficit in this country has grown steadily, especially during this most recent economic downturn, leaving a mounting national debt in its wake. Something needs to happen.
Unfortunately, the idea of just cutting funding for government programs without considering the possibility of simultaneously raising taxes, is akin to the idea of trying to lose weight by eating less while sitting on the couch. It may or may not work, but even if it does work, you’ll not only be lighter than you were before, you’ll also be a lot weaker.We have to make smart choices about how we bring costs and revenues into alignment.
That starts with adherence to the facts. Speaker Boehner has been going around talking about the wasteful hiring practices of the Obama Administration, which he claims has added 200,000 jobs since the President took office. The problem is, he’s off by 143,000. Follow his math here and here. You’d think that our problems are real enough that he wouldn’t have to resort to such inflated statistics to convince us that action is warranted. Of course, he was probably betting on the majority of people hearing the statistic and never bothering to check its veracity–much like the Duke University student who, at a debate I moderated last week, cited Newt Gingrich’s bogus claim that the IRS would have to hire 16,000 additional agents to deal with the individual insurance mandate as a fact. When I asked for the source of the information, the student couldn’t find it. What a surprise.
I guess it just comes down to my not being a fan of making uninformed decisions. Especially when those decisions will affect potentially millions of people. Case in point: The GOP wants to significantly reduce funding for community health centers. I like community health centers. They are the subject of my dissertation here at Carolina, and I chose to focus on them because of what remarkable organizations they are. They provide care for those that fall through the cracks in our system, they do it well, and they do it for less money than most other health care providers. But they now find themselves on the chopping block for no good reason. You can get the details here. If, after reading, you want to voice support for health centers, you can visit this site. We need a government in Washington that spends wisely, yes. But that doesn’t necessitate that they save foolishly.