With the long overdue federal budget negotiations continuing to, well — continue — the vitriol spewing out of every crevasse of Washington is stunning in both its scope and in the absolute levels of personal animus that is on display. Even more stunning than the differences of opinion are the even more spectacular distortions of both the facts and the pertinent arguments attached to elements of the debate. It is one thing to have a contrary set of opinions. It is yet another to deploy a confrontation strategy of â€œjustifiable-deceptionâ€ (what used to be called â€œliesâ€) into that debate. The proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood that was announced last week (for their use in providing abortions) brought out vast quantities of this type of pernicious and despicable political deception.
The emotionally driven hate-speech coming from the self-described and sole protectors of women (the liberal legion in Washington), came so fast and furious that one might have been concerned that someone might have gotten hurt in their stampede to the cameras and microphones. It was a scene reminiscent of the chaos of a rock concert or a soccer game where all of the adolescent fans have designs on the front row.
Of the entire list of distortions associated with the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the one most hideous is the characterization that conservatives are both anti-women, and anti-womenâ€™s rights. Â These liberal â€œmegaphonesâ€ should be ashamed of themselves for stooping to this level of civility and discourse. Actually, it is not discourse (and it is obviously not civil); it is just the spewage of unfiltered sewage. Here are some examples:
- Reid (D-NV) said Republicans had placed a “bull’s eye on women in America,” preventing them from getting “health services they need.”
- Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) said: “The real reason that the right-wing extremists in Congress orchestrated this outrageous government shutdown is to try and defund Planned Parenthood as part of their ideological assault on women’s health care.â€
- Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) explained that “This is a war on women. They’re trying to inject their politics and their religion into local family planning.” California liberals are a special lot, are they not? The level of hypocrisy captured in these two brief sentences is revolting to all people of intelligent thought. But we move on.
As the â€œviability of the fetusâ€ argument has now been effectively discredited, both morally and technologically, the abortionistâ€™s last redoubt is the rights-of-women argument. The absurdity of this version of the pro-abortion argument is that the issue has never been simply and singularly about the rights of women. Everyone, on all sides of this issue, is committed to the rights of women. The fact that the extremist (to use their word) liberals seem to deny that the issue is much broader than womenâ€™s rights is the reason their comments are so entirely and patently offensive. This is a much more expansive human rights issue.
The battle lines around the abortion issue are not found on the political map in an area marked â€œthe rights of women.â€ The debate is rather a long-standing and well-defined issue that pits the interests and rights of women against the interests and rights of unborn children. We all wish this did not have to be so. But to say that one party in the debate favors the rights of women, and the other does not, is at least disingenuous and likely much worse. It is reflective of a lack of character that manifests itself in a willingness to sacrifice base levels of honesty and core human decency in pursuit of their already dubious goals.
The difference between those of us who support the lives of the unborn and the Reidâ€™s, DeGetteâ€™s and Leeâ€™s of the world has nothing whatsoever with differences of opinion opposite the rights of women. It has everything to do with the rights of children. For liberals to state the contrary, or to state only one element of the argument, is morally and intellectually reprehensible. For those who choose to support abortion as a simple function of the rights of women there exists a deep moral responsibility to pursue the issue on its meritsâ€¦whatever those merits might be. Spewing unrepentant lies as a means of support for their argument is, very unfortunately, on the same moral plane as the abortionistâ€™s morally asymmetrical argument itself.
We need look no further than this to see why Americans are so completely disgusted with the whole political process. Without honesty there can be no trust. Without trust, there is no opportunity for the democratic form of governance to continue.
Process check: If you read this and see it as polemic in favor of the rights of children, please read it again. It is an argument in support of honest political discourse. This article could have been written with the federal budget, health care, educational funding, judicial activism or food safety labeling as the backdrop.
A study of the National debt over the last thirty years proves that our Representatives are not responsible enough to continuing governing without the rules of the game being changed. Though much belabored, it bears repeating that the National Debt did not break the one trillion dollar threshold until the year 1982 and not until the fiscal year 2002 did it break six trillion. From 2002 to 2010 it more than doubled from $6.25 trillion to over $13 trillion dollars.
Changing the rules of the game in this case means the passing of some form of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. This is far from a new idea and most people, especially newcomers to the world of politics, would be shocked at how close we have come, even recently, to achieving it. In the 90s alone constitutional amendments involving balancing the budget came to serious Congressional votes at least once in six different yearsâ€”1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997. In â€˜92, â€˜94, and â€˜97 the Balanced Budget Amendment came up only a handful of votes short of achieving the two-thirds majority needed in both Houses.
Without getting too much into the weeds it is significant to note that the amendment in 1992 was sponsored by a Democratâ€”Charles Stenholm of Texas. In the House it garnered 116 of its 280 yes votes from Democrats with only 3 of its 153 no votes coming from Republicans (2) and Independents (1). One of the two attempts at passage in 1997 (S.J Res.12), though excluding Social Security, was not only sponsored by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan but was shockingly co-sponsored by both Diane Feinstein and Harry Reid. In light of their recent attitudes and votes on spending one can only guess at the numbers of skins each has had to shed to evolve their position from then to now.
As frustrating to the billâ€™s advocates as these votes were they were dwarfed by the events of 1995. The fate of the 1995 Balanced Budget Amendment, knowing what has transpired since, has to stand as the mother of all â€œthe one that got awayâ€ stories. With the addition of just one more Senatorâ€™s vote the amendment would have passed, gone to the States for ratification, and the Federal Budget would have, by Constitutional mandate, been forced to be balanced as soon as 1997 and no later than 2002. From 1997 to 2010 our Federal Debt grew from $5.4 to $13.6 trillion dollars. This is an addition of $8.2 trillion that could have been avoided by changing this increase from being merely unconscionable to being unconstitutional. Adding to the agony is that, under intense pressure from President Clinton, six Senators that had voted for a nearly identical amendment in â€˜94 switched to a no vote in â€˜95. Among the six were Byron Dorgan, Diane Feinstein, and Harry Reid, who all, as noted before, would go on to sponsor and co-sponsor a similarly spirited Constitutional Amendment in 1997.
While the details of this history are ugly there also lies within it a glimmer of hope and perhaps a blueprint for future success. As sad as it is that constitutionally confining our Legislators is needed, it is equally as promising that achieving such a feat was that closely at hand. Resetting the same debate in 2011 includes facing the identical sticking points and opponents that killed the effort in the 90s, namely the inclusion of Social Security and the unions.
Though counter-productive I would favor excluding Social Security if this compromise was the difference between non-passage and passage. This makes strategic sense both because Social Security reform is better achieved as a separate issue and even with it excluded the amendment would make a massive difference. In terms of the union position of opposing due to potential cuts in wages and safety net services, I would not give an inch of concession. Here the truth is that, barring a sustained economic boom, these things will have to be reduced. The fact that the National debt has more than doubled since the last time this issue was hotly debated not only adds to the causes urgency but makes a public showdown with the unions increasingly winnable.
Also different this time around is a new proposal offered up by Representatives Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Mike Pence of Indiana. Like the Balanced Budget Amendments of the 90s, and most common sense solutions, it is very simple and consists of only a few paragraphs. The Spending Limit Amendment states that the total annual outlays of the Federal government shall not exceed 20% of the United States yearly economic output. The two exceptions to this being that Congress could provide for a specific increase with a two-thirds vote in each House and could waive the provision while a declaration of war was in effect.
Every serious thinking Conservative should begin their own investigation and analysis of this and other likeminded proposals. Legally binding pieces of legislation dealing with how Congress spends money will not only be at the forefront of political debate in the coming years, but is the one area that provides the Tea Party movement an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy. Though failing in this effort in the 90s can be called â€œthe one that got away,â€ coming up short this time around likely will rename the story â€œthe one that broke the camelâ€™s back.â€