OTHER OPINION: A bandage on budget offers only a deferral

By The Denver Post

Americans would be willing to live with a government shutdown to achieve the larger goal of long-term spending restraint, according to a new Rasmussen poll.
The survey found that only 33 percent of likely voters would rather have Congress avoid a government shutdown by continuing to spend at last year’s historic levels while 58 percent would prefer a partial shutdown to wait for Democrats and Republicans to agree on spending cuts.
We hope the U.S. government doesn’t shut down later this month – though even if it did, essential workers would continue to work and Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would still go out.
We worry, though, about the negative impact such a shutdown would have on the economy, which needs stability, and how a shutdown would further undermine the already shaky faith many citizens have in their government.
Nevertheless, we are heartened that a majority of Americans clearly understand the serious nature of the fiscal problems this country faces.
The Democrats who controlled Congress last year did not even pass a budget for 2011, but instead authorized temporary spending. When that temporary spending expires, as it was set to do this week, Congress then has to either extend it or the federal government shuts down.
Despite some tough budget talk from the administration after the midterm elections, the president’s $3.7 trillion budget proposal for 2012 carries with it a $1.645 trillion deficit and would increase the national debt by $7.2 trillion over the next 10 years.
That should be unacceptable to Congress.
Republicans in the House first asked for a total of $61 billion of discretionary spending for the remainder of the year, but most Senate Democrats, and some economists, claim that cutting spending would undermine the economic recovery.
What does bankruptcy mean?
With only two days to spare, the House on Tuesday approved a stopgap measure that would keep the federal government funded through March 18 while cutting $4 billion in earmarks and other programs. The spending cuts were in programs already targeted by President Obama for elimination.
The stopgap proposal (easily passed) the Senate (last) week.
This isn’t exactly a showcase of political bravery, but it’s a good start.
At this point, a two-week continuing resolution with some modest cuts is better than a government shutdown as long as the ensuing bipartisan discussions get serious about enacting lasting cuts that will begin to control spending and also pave the way toward dealing with the massive entitlement mess.
It may be tough to swallow, but the country can no longer postpone these tough choices.
– The Denver Post