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Elected Officials Use Deficit as Political Pawn

After an all-night session, the newly elected Republican majority in the House passed a budget reduction bill of more than $60 billion.
 

I’m concerned about some of the proposed cuts, but what I find most frustrating is the political maneuvering behind the Republican proposal. I may be projecting my own frustration and disillusionment with recent American politics onto this situation, but here is how I interpret the recent events.

 

The Republicans have just obtained power in Congress and, as all “good” politicians do, they have begun eyeing the next election cycle.

 

In order to convince the American people that they are the best hope for the future, they have championed budget reductions and proposed a drastic cut of $61 billion.

 

They are aware that the proposal is controversial because it cuts spending in areas and in amounts in direct conflict with Democratic ideals.

 

As such, Republicans know the Democratic Senate will not approve their bill, which is really the point anyway.

 

Once the Democrats reject the bill, the Republicans will intensify the rhetoric portraying themselves as fiscal conservatives trying to save the country from its ever-growing debt while painting Democrats as fiscal liberals who refuse to cut spending.

 

I can’t predict the future, but I believe that scenario is likely. It’s a great political strategy, and it may even work.

 

The problem is that this is politics as usual and will accomplish nothing.

 

The politics we’ve observed from both sides of the aisle in recent years is not about working together to solve a problem. It’s about getting re-elected or getting more of your party in power.

 

To do so, you have to portray the other side as negatively as possible. Truth and reality matter little.

 

Working together to accomplish something for the good of the nation is tangential. What matters is securing votes.

 

According to a recent report, Senate Democrats have proposed their own spending reductions, and the Republican proposal has made it clear they want to reduce spending.

 

Therefore, despite the rhetoric, the problem is not that one party wants to reduce the deficit while another party wants to increase it.

 

 

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The problem is the political maneuvering for ballot-box results. The problem is that the parties don’t seem to care about coming together to find a workable compromise.

 

If they did, they would sit down and talk about the substance of the reductions. Our leaders don’t appear to want to reduce the deficit. Rather, they want to make the reduction of the deficit the latest pawn in their political chess match.

 

In the end, the debate over the budget and deficit reduction should be about the content of the proposed cuts.

 

Both parties readily acknowledge the need to cut spending; they just disagree about where to cut spending and how much should be cut.

 

This is what the discussion should be about, but recent comments from both sides have largely been about smearing the other.

 

Sadly, instead of a civil, intelligent, results-focused conversation about how to reduce spending, I expect more of the same political posturing aimed at obtaining votes in the next election.

 

I can only hope that I’m wrong and that our leaders will find a way to work together for the good of all.

 

Zach Dawes and his wife, Peyton, are pastors of First Baptist Church in Mount Gilead, N.C. He blogs at Scribblings.