Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
|Don't hold your breath|
"He must not be running for re-election."
That comment was offered by a friend shortly after he digested Congressman Rodney Alexander's comments in an interview with The Ouachita Citizen last week.
Just one of two members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana who voted for legislation that supposedly averted the so-called "fiscal cliff," Alexander told The Ouachita Citizen the Congress must turn its attention to curtailing spending to get the country's financial house in order. Not only did Alexander acknowledge cuts in spending must be made, he singled out defense and Social Security as targets for cuts.
If you are even a casual observer of politics, you know well that defense spending and Social Security were declared off-limits long ago to any member of the Congress who harbored a desire to remain a member of it.
"…I sometimes offend those on the ultra-conservative side when I say defense needs to be on the table," said Alexander, R-Quitman. "Raising the (eligibility) age and means testing (Social Security) is something we have to consider."
"I certainly think we have to look at the whole picture," Alexander added.
Seldom will you read or hear about a member of the Congress openly talk about cutting defense and tinkering with Social Security. As noted above, it's taboo for a politician, unless that politician is about to retire from politics, voluntarily or otherwise.
Since Alexander has not uttered a word about retiring, his comments shouldn't be taken lightly. That would be the case because Alexander is a member of the influential House Appropriations Committee. He's also a chairman of one of the Appropriations Committee's subcommittees.
To put it bluntly, Alexander wields a big stick.
Judging by Alexander's straight-forward, honest remarks, though, it's apparent he realizes the federal government cannot continue to engage in deficit spending topping $1 trillion each year, which our government has embraced over the past four years and is projected to do so over the next four years. It's also apparent that Alexander realizes the only path the Congress could pursue to get handle on spending must entail cuts in defense, Social Security and Medicare since those three ticket items, as well as interest payments on the national debt, account for roughly two-thirds of the federal government's annual budget.
Yet, it's important that you realize the "deal" the Congress agreed to last week to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" did nothing to rein in spending. The "deal" didn't cut taxes either, as it was advertised, unless you consider allowing tax rates to expire one hour and re-enacting them an hour later as a tax cut. That's exactly what the U.S. House did early in the morning on Jan. 1, or shortly after the Bush-era tax rates expired at midnight Dec. 31. But only in Washington would that flimflam be considered cutting taxes.
Instead, the "deal" to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" raised taxes by some $2 trillion over the next 10 years. And that $2 trillion in new taxes did not include the $675 billion in new taxes the American people have begun to pay – over the next decade – to help finance the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Make no mistake, all of those new taxes will negatively impact all wage earners – the wealthy, the middle class and the lower middle class. We've all got skin in the game.
Be that is it may, if Alexander is serious about entertaining cuts in defense and putting the brakes on Social Security, he shouldn't expect any company in advocating the same. The political will to do it simply doesn't exist on Capitol Hill.
But that's the way it is in Washington where members of the Congress avoid tough decisions at all costs because their eyes are fixated on running for re-election. You don't get re-elected by requiring the American people to actually pay for the services they demand.
Perhaps Alexander's remarks about getting serious about the government's spending problem won't fall on deaf ears.
But I'm not holding my breath.