Wednesday, November 17, 2010
In my recent post on the deficit, I should have more overtly made an obvious point: using the fun interactive site I referenced at the NYT, what becomes clear is not how hard it is to balance the budget, but how easy it is. All it takes, as I've been saying, is a not-horrendous bit of tax-raising, and a not very painful series of spending cuts. I'm not saying the NYT site isn't oversimplified, but the principle is pretty clear. Give it a try. It's revelatory.
The problem is that you and I (and by "you" I exclude some of my Foxobeckified commenters) are adult enough to be able to make obvious choices; whereas no one in Congress is. The difficulty, in other words, is not in seeing the answers: it's that our political system, fatally wounded by hyper-partisanship and the forsaking of reality-based thinking (mainly but not exclusively on one side of the aisle) is no longer able to function in the way in which it was designed. Our founders, silly boys that they were, imagined there'd always be in Congress at least a handful of educated people, willing to rise above pettiness to act for the common good.
And, of course, the fault is not entirely with our elected representatives: it's with those who elected them. Fed for decades on Reagonian economic fantasies and Bushy redefinition of patriotism to mean shopping and shutting up, the electorate has no stomach for those who'd tell them the truth, much less act on it.
So we'll never get there. Not in time, anyway. But it's not, as you'll see if you play the NYT's game, because it's too hard to find the answer.