Virtual Voices

Madison v. Washington

Politics

Have you considered the contrast between Madison and Washington? Not the fathers of our Constitution and country . . . the capitals. Only 847 miles separate these cities, yet they are worlds apart. In Wisconsin, legislators are fighting over real budget reform while congressmen in the District of Columbia tinker with cutting pennies in spending. Where does the biggest moral problem lie? Is it in Madison, or Washington, or somewhere else?

Love him or hate him, Gov. Scott Walker is trying to tackle Wisconsin's budget problems. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Walker called his plan "politically bold." Does bold action translate as moral action? Not necessarily, but I give Walker points for speaking truthfully and for trying to do what he believes to be the right thing.

Now, let's turn to Washington, D.C. Discussing his thoughts about running for president in 2012, Congressman Ron Paul told The Wall Street Journal last week, "There's no sign that they're very serious. If they want to cut $6 billion in one of these CRs (i.e., a Continuing Resolution-an appropriations bill to keep the government operating), the Democrats are nearly hysterical about it. I mean, we're talking about the national debt going up to $2 trillion and we're tinkering around with a couple billion here and there."

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Cutting $6 billion in the face of a $2 trillion deficit is like cutting $30 from a household budget that's under water by $10,000. Cutting $100 billion-the full amount promised by Republicans for this fiscal year-is like cutting $500 from our household deficit example. That's tinkering, for sure. Ron Paul acknowledges that some legislators are getting frustrated, yet he also notes that many of these same legislators are unwilling to touch politically sensitive items like Medicare, Social Security, and the military. "It just goes on and on," Paul said. "I just don't believe they're sincere about cutting back."

Although Wisconsin has a legal requirement to balance its budget, its citizens appear to be tired of paying for bloated state government. It's hitting them in their wallets. This scenario is playing out in other states as well. But when it comes to the obscene federal budget problem, we Americans appear to be content to pile debt onto future generations who don't vote and protest.

The country's biggest moral spending problem isn't in Madison, or Washington. It's in our hearts.

Lee Wishing
Lee Wishing

Lee is the administrative director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

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