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The Tea Party members of Congress demonstrated Thursday that bipartisanship is possible when used to cut wasteful spending; against all odds, they and Democrats joined together to cancel the second engine for the F-35 which had long been a symbol of government excess (being opposed by both the Bush White House, the Obama White House and the Secretary of Defense). The Tea Party Caucus also sent an important message that—with the budgetary crisis the nation currently faces—no department can be exempt.
But we cannot depend on cutting “wasteful” spending if we are to balance the federal budget. There is no doubt that many government programs do exist for no other reason than to provide public employees with employment. This is wasteful spending. But this spending is not what will cause the national debt to balloon to 80% of the GDP by 2021.
Fiscal conservatives and free market advocates who work in politics rather than policy may not want to talk about the specifics of repealing and replacing ObamaCare. They may not want to talk about the need to reform Medicare and Social Security. These programs actually do serve people in a way that many believe is an appropriate allocation of government funds, but we are at a point at which past allocations are no longer an option. As Mitch Daniels said at CPAC:
Talking . . . about . . . “waste, fraud, and abuse,” trivializes what needs to be done, and misleads our fellow citizens to believe that easy answers are available to us. In this room, we all know how hard the answers are, how much change is required.
The arduous task of restoring the nation to fiscal solvency is not a challenge that anyone wanted, but it is a challenge we face nonetheless, and the first step toward solving the problem is not bipartisanship (as too many massive spending bills during the past decade demonstrate), but rather the admission that the task of governing is not easy. America is not waiting for politicians to be bipartisan; it is waiting for them to be serious.