The first commandment for every Republican has to do with spending. Spending! Omigod! it has to be reined in. The deficit is unacceptable. The only sane goal is a balanced budget. If we don’t get our financial house in order, claim the money-mad Republicans, we are failing in our most important political responsibility. We are kicking the can down the road, breaking the back of our unborn grandchildren and great-grandchildren, even beyond the third and fourth generations.
One hears this kind of talk whenever two or three Republicans get together. If a Republican talks in his sleep, that may constitute a quorum. So what is this fixation with spending about? In the long history of mankind, spending has always been a bogeyman for The Right.. At least so it seems. For them, the first order of business is the exercise of thrift.
In fact, thrift is an obsession. It trumps spending for education, for scientific research, for repairing the infrastructure of the nation. And that’s the least of it. In the words of Capt. Ahab, thrift is “cruel and remorseless and sinewed with malice.” It takes food from the mouths of children, from the disabled, from our veterans. It has the heft of a sacrament, even as It propels a budget through the land that in its ferocity matches Sherman’s March to the Sea.
For our purposes, the Right’s preoccupation with spending and the absolute necessity to rein it in are an Ariadne thread leading to an understanding of how Republicans think. How did we get to this unbalanced budget? they ask. How did we rack up such a deficit?
That’s right, moral turpitude!
We indulged ourselves. We wasted our “substance in riotous living.” We set up retirement plans that were not realistic, basically indulging our workers. We offered entitlement programs beyond our means. We lavished unemployment benefits that corrupted our middle class. In short, we acted like drunken sailors, an appropriate and sober way of life farthest from our mind.
Achieving a balanced budget is a moral imperative. It demands that we live within our means. “Thrift, Horatio.” That’s why we don’t raise taxes or close loopholes. That’s an evasion of our responsibility. We are not waiting around for a rich uncle to die and leave us in his will. No, we must evolve the moral fiber to run our country responsibly with the means at hand.
It’s time to pay the piper. It’s time for Republicans to clean up the mess in Washington. Republican Paul Ryan, a Wunderkind, has put together a budget that can usher in fiscal responsibility. It spells out our first commandment – control spending.