The struggle between Americans and Americans’ common sense is always brief. Common sense, already weak by nature and rusty from non-use, takes one on the chin every time.
Take the sequester debate. The media, both left and right, breathlessly report on the reality game-show of John Boehner and Barack Obama thumb-wrestling as to whether the 2013 federal budget should be $3.62 trillion or $3.69 trillion. Cleanly scrubbed and coifed news anchors warn us of economic Armageddon if we savagely decimate the federal government through draconian, Tea-Party induced spending cuts. Planes will explode in fiery crashes after air traffic controllers are let go at midnight. Battalions of teachers will be laid off and children will forget how to read. Food safety inspectors, deprived of lab coat dry-cleaning and gasoline for their government Priuses, will be powerless to prevent horsemeat from being ground into your Big Mac.
The reality, of course, is a whole lot less interesting. In 2012 our Congress spent a cool $3.61 trillion, or about $92 billion less than the $3.62 trillion (roll that ‘r’ when you say trrrrrrillion) permitted spend under sequestration. You see, the so-called sequester is nothing more than a Washington, D.C. passion play, where the poor, misunderstood government is forced to manage with only 100.3% of its ginormous spending from last year.
For the federal government, it’s a heads they win, tails they win scenario. This is no epic debate of no national government versus limited federal government argued in taverns throughout the sovereign states from 1787 to 1788. Nope. Instead, it is an alarmingly massive, economically corrosive and largely unconstitutional federal government supported by Democrats versus an alarmingly massive, economically corrosive and largely unconstitutional federal government supported by Republicans (and Democrats, too, after CNN turns off their cameras).
I do give the Democrats credit for their honesty in this one. They want their centralized government, and the bigger, sloppier and costlier, the better. Republicans, who, in case anyone forgot, solidly control the U.S. House of Representatives, pretend they stand for limited government, which to them apparently means immediately conceding to the Democrats a bigger, more expensive federal government in 2013 than in 2012. If they really believed in limited government (spoiler alert: they don’t), they would offer dramatic cuts to the 2012 baseline. Remember, Republicans control an entire house of Congress. If they shared two testicles among their pack, why not propose zeroing out a federal department or two, from the unconstitutional Education Department to the creepy Department of Homeland Security?
Common sense would suggest that – despite the narrative mythology – Democrats and Republicans share more in common than either group would care for you to recognize. Common sense should also tell us that a political agreement on the budget will eventually be reached, and that sequester or not, the federal government will grow fatter this year, and every year thereafter, to the detriment of our liberty, our economy and our standard of living. And common sense should unite us all against our big-spending, whiny overlords, but, alas, common sense is, as usual, sitting on the mat and rubbing its chin.