Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

Do We Have a Comprehension Problem?

There are times when I wonder if my ears are processing information correctly when forwarding same to the understanding sensors of my rapidly diminishing brain. Or perhaps the problem could be that I am failing to comprehend the intricacy of the messages the brain is being asked to decipher.

This self doubt started a few days ago when one of my heroes, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, called it a "false argument" to say the feds have a spending problem. Maybe it's just me, but I believe when governmental expenditure exceeds income by more than one trillion dollars-plus a year for the past four years, it constitutes a drunken-sailor-type spending problem.

During an interview with "Fox News Sunday," Ms. Pelosi said some cuts in spending (which are talking points of many Republicans) would be more harmful than beneficial; cuts such as those proposed in education, scientific research and unnamed "others."

"So, it is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem. We have a budget deficit problem that we have to address," Pelosi said. Here, students, is lesson number one, Pelosi-style, in Semantics 101, otherwise known as political doublespeak or officious obfuscation.

There are a couple of points of genuine interest here. First, and probably most interesting, is that Pelosi was making these statements on Fox News.

Not too long ago, it was this same Fox network which was whining to the heavens that this administration had declared a war of sorts on its programming and its message. According to pieces published on the network's website, the White House was targeting Fox for criticism as part of a campaign to silence dissention in the press corps.

The Fox proof: the White House omitted Fox from conference calls dealing with the Benghazi attack and Chris Wallace of "Fox News Sunday" was left out of interviews while CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS hosted a bevy of administration officials. Further, the network complained of a 2009 interview on ABC 's "This Week" where senior White House advisor David Axelrod said Fox was "not really a news station." Heavy stuff, indeed.

Anyway, here we have Pelosi on Fox claiming that the government's propensity to spend money like trail herd hands at the end of the cattle drive is not the problem. The real boogerboo is the fact that we just can't seem to bring in enough money through regular channels, and we have to keep wishing up cash in order to spend all we want. Sound fiscal reasoning, if you're inclined to believe our best and brightest.

And Pelosi isn't the only one delivering the same "it's not the spending that's the problem" message. Just this week, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said our problem is not spending too much, it's "paying for" what we spend. If this were a cartoon, this is the part where our eyes roll, our heads swell and steam comes from our ears.
To his credit, though, Hoyer gave (perhaps unknowingly) the answer to this country's deficit problem. When asked by the interviewer, "Are we promising too much?" he replied, "Absolutely. If we don't pay, we shouldn't buy." Sort of wish someone had thought of that solution a few decades ago.
We are asking the same people who continue to spend at a record pace to start putting on the brakes, but that's like asking the little person to walk into a candy store with a dollar bill and come out with change...the intent lasts only until the door opens to reveal all the goodies available.

When discussing increasing our nation's debt limit (again) in 2006, then U.S. Senator Barak Obama said increasing the debt limit weakens the country domestically and internationally. Instead of insisting the buck stop with those in leadership, the country is instead placing the burden on the backs of future generations.

"America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership," Senator Obama said a mere seven years ago. "Americans deserve better." Amen.

If you wonder what has changed, the answer is simple. Every politician is fiscally responsible until he/she suddenly realizes their name has just been added as a signatory on the national checkbook. At that point, it becomes a scramble to see if we really can spend it faster than we can print it. Unfortunately, we can.

Sorry, Ms. Pelosi. We do indeed have a spending problem, and it seems there's no one big enough to slap the hands of the 535 kids whose hands are constantly going into the cookie jar. Asking Congress to change its spending habits is a little like asking the pimp to swear celibacy for all his "staff." It's good in theory but practically impossible in practice.

Pat Culverhouse is a journalist and political columnist who lives in Minden. You may contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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