Congress loves number games. Not just because it lets them get in touch with their inner first grader, but also by focusing on numerical cuts, it allows them to avoid talking about the most important cuts, cuts to the role of government.
Congress did not get into this mess because they didn’t have calculators—they got into this mess because they didn’t have limits. Paul Ryan’s famed budget proposal will fail for the same reason all others have failed: it makes no attempt to define what legitimate federal spending is. The Republican ‘conservative alternative’ perpetuates federal control over housing, drugs, airports, agriculture, energy, and a host of other dubious federal programs.
It’s no surprise the House unlike the Senate has not proposed a balanced budget amendment. They haven’t even proposed a plan that will balance the budget. Ryan’s proposal doesn’t even come close for over a decade.
If Republicans want to make their renewed interest in fiscal sanity credible, they need to stop playing number games and start rediscovering principles. This government doesn’t need a new accountant—it needs a new philosophy.