Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 18, 2013

LEFFLER: Budget deal nothing to get excited about

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — As much as I want to herald the dawn of a new spirit of cooperation in the budget/debt limit deal that Congress approved Wednesday night, I can’t help but feel like we’ve all been doubly duped.

The deal that was reached was pretty much what the Democrats had been offering all along. It was not a real compromise by any stretch of the imagination and it should have happened before Oct. 1. The 16 days of government shutdown were essentially for nothing.

That would all be bad enough on its own. But making matters worse, all the budget deal does is ensure that we’ll be back in the same place in three months since it only funds government through Jan. 15. As I heard many TV pundits say, it just “kicks the can down the road.”

The biggest problem with that, of course, is that it’s our can that’s getting kicked. Congress has pretty much just thumbed their collective nose at the American people. They have no real desire to lead. No desire to govern, either. Truth be told, I’m not sure what it is they desire to do.

So as a matter of fact, we’re just on a three-month reprieve from the shenanigans that is the U.S. Congress. And when they bring the topic back up, there’s nothing to prevent them from shutting down the government again.

Rarely will I say that President Barack Obama said something brilliant, but on Wednesday, he really did, saying we can’t keep “governing by crisis.”

That’s exactly what our “leaders” have been doing. I’m not sure if they think they work better under pressure. Or if they think that the crisis will force the other side to cave. Or if they just have bad time management skills. But something isn’t right down there in Washington.

The only thing worse than a late budget and government shutdown and nearing the brink on the debt ceiling is that some people in Congress wanted it to last longer.

In fact, my own congressman, Chris Collins, voted no on the budget deal and released a statement explaining his vote.

“Tonight, the House voted to increase our national debt by over $300 billion without achieving a single spending cut. I could not, in good faith, vote in favor of this legislation which only adds billions to the credit card bill our children will be left to pay,” he said. “America has a significant and dangerous spending problem that most of Washington is content to ignore. On behalf of my constituents, I will not ignore this fact. Kicking the can down the road is what caused this problem and Washington has to muster the political courage to deal with it for the future of our country.”

I don’t disagree with Rep. Collins about the spending problem. I agree wholeheartedly, in fact. We spend way too much money. But I fail to see any leadership in voting against paying bills we already incurred. And I can’t help but wonder if his vote was really “on behalf of his constituents.” Or more to the point, which constituents?

But hey, we elected him — and the rest of them, too. Maybe we should kick all their cans down the road.

Scott Leffler thinks that "congress" and "progress" are antonyms. Tune in next week when he finds a word that rhymes with "orange." Also, follow him on Twitter @scottleffler.