Beam: What happened to budget cuts?

By By Jim Beam / American Press

President Obama gave some, but he was

among the winners when the fiscal cliff settlement was reached.

Unfortunately, our children

and grandchildren are the losers.

The president loaded up his golf clubs

prior to Senate and House votes that avoided a fall over the cliff, and

shortly thereafter

he headed off to Hawaii to finish his vacation. Nothing was done

to trim a $16 trillion national debt that will continue to

grow and be passed on to future generations.

The bottom line is simple. The

legislation approved by Congress raises taxes for higher income

Americans that will give the

government $600 billion more to spend over the next 10 years. It

only cuts spending by $15 billion and adds nearly $4 trillion

to federal deficits over the next decade.

“I’m embarrassed for this generation. Future generations deserve better,” U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told The Associated

Press.

Opponents — Republicans mostly — were

promised spending would be reduced in the coming months, but that is all

it is — a promise.

And how many times have we seen such promises broken?

The next hurdle in this ongoing

congressional gridlock over taxes and spending cuts comes next month

when the national debt

limit needs to be raised and federal agencies will be looking for

money to operate. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio,

who voted for the compromise, said that is when Republicans will

insist on spending cuts, reform of the tax code and changes

to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.

Democrats apparently have other ideas. Boehner wanted to amend the fiscal cliff settlement to include $300 billion in budget

cuts, but Democratic leaders in the Senate said it wasn’t going to happen.

Congressional Democrats clearly don’t want anyone messing around with those three government programs. National Journal, a

political news magazine, listed the AARP as one of the winners in the fiscal cliff negotiations. It said seniors and their

lobbyists won’t have to be worried about cuts to those programs this month. The truth is, they may not have to worry about

them for a long time.

Obama doesn’t sound as though he’s in the mood for another compromise. He said he isn’t going to have a debate with Congress

over extending the debt limit. Actually, he wanted legislative power to raise the limit on his own, but didn’t get it.

Louisiana’s congressional delegation

was split down the middle on the fiscal cliff settlement. U.S. Sens.

Mary Landrieu, a

Democrat, and Republican David Vitter voted for the legislation.

So did U.S. Reps. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, and Rodney

Alexander, R-Quitman.

Vitter’s vote was a surprise in many quarters. He called the settlement “a much better outcome under Obama than I would have

guessed.” Permanent tax cuts for 99 percent of Americans was a plus, he said.

Voting against were GOP Reps. Charles Boustany of Lafayette, Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge, John Fleming of Minden, Jeff Landry

of New Iberia and Steve Scalise of Metairie.

Most had the same reaction expressed by Boustany.

“Last night, Washington voted to raise

income tax rates for the first time in over two decades,” Boustany said.

“I voted against

this bill due to its fundamental failure to address one of the

biggest problems facing our nation today: government spending.

To the contrary, this legislation is comprised mainly of tax

increases...”

Cassidy said, “The job of Congress is to strengthen and preserve Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid while addressing the

debt and deficit. This bill does none of this.”

Sophie Quinton in a National Journal

article agreed. She said members of Congress who want to cut spending

(deficit hawks)

were losers, along with Boehner, who failed to broker a deal that

included tax cuts, the U.S. Treasury that faces a borrowing

limit and the 1 percent of “wealthy Americans who make their money

from investments, rather than paychecks...”

Taxpayers have to share some of the

blame for the unwillingness of Congress to cut spending. They constantly

talk about the

need to reduce the country’s debt, but they want it done without

touching government programs they hold dear. They can’t have

it both ways. A majority of them who voted for Obama also see no

problem in increasing taxes for the wealthy in this country.

“A central promise of my campaign for president was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy at the

expense of working middle-class Americans,” Obama said before heading off to Hawaii. “Tonight we’ve done that.”

Forgive me if I’m reading that wrong, but it sounds as though the president isn’t too concerned about curbing spending and

reducing the national debt now that he and the Democrats have more money to spend.

• • •

Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or jbeam@americanpress.com