By Ruth Gadebusch
Albeit it late, the president has presented his new budget. The figures do not add up. No matter how you manipulate it, you cannot cut taxes, increase spending and reduce the deficit all in one glorious act. Adding insult to injury, this president, not known for veracity, wants us to believe that he is doing it all for the common folk. That is you and me!
If it were only the administration we might chalk it off to fancy, but there are still members of Congress who stick with him through thick and thin. They need a civics lesson in the division of power that the great document they profess to love so provides.
We are blessed that a small number of senators departed party adherence long enough to pass the resolution regarding his “emergency” declaration fully aware that it would be vetoed. At this point, votes to override that veto are elusive. Don’t they care about the value of their body, the Congress of the United States of America? Don’t they appreciate why we have a tripartite government?
They exist to be more than an “amen” body for this, or any executive. The proposed budget appears to be one more way to get his wish for an ineffective wall.
The motive of Republicans voting for the resolution may have been more concern about how some future Democratic president could use the emergency power than how wrong it is in the current circumstances. Or, suspicious as I am, because it was certain to be vetoed. Shame! Shame! Alas, that is the downside of politics that we deplore. Right is right regardless of which party is in the majority.
Speaking of majority, let us never forget that the current president is not in office by a majority of the votes. He is there due to the outmoded Electoral College.
Worse yet is his determination, “come hell or high water,” to build that wall that polls show a vast majority do not want. There is ample room for debate of alternatives to protect our southern border.
In addition to using emergency powers to divert money from defense for his wall, the budget proposes more wall money as well as replacement for misused funds from the 2019 budget, plus new dollars in the Pentagon budget. So far as I know, there is no limit on how long an emergency like this lasts or how many new ones he could declare making him essentially a dictator legally without the use of force. Incredible where this could go unless Congress comes to its senses and takes responsibility for its charge.
As if this was not enough, at this writing there is the situation in Venezuela. What makes us think we should tell those citizens how to run their nation? Obviously, we have not learned the lesson that meddling in other nations, even those in our hemisphere, is not our right. Our incursion into Nicaragua under Republican hero Ronald Reagan is still with us morally and arguably influences the conditions pushing the Central American migrants seeking refuge on our southern border.
We did not get to be a great nation with such hubris. In the scheme of things, the vision was for a refuge from their homeland troubles not created by our interference. Granted, not much thought was given to the feelings, the needs, of those already occupying this land, but history should have taught us that we need not repeat the same mistakes with another group of people.
Must we always be guided by the economics of the moment? Don’t we have the ability to get beyond instant gratification with thought for long-term consequences? This holds whether it is political meddling in another nation or a budget tilted so graphically to the already well-off?
Political effect might not be so readily determined for the future, but numbers do not lie. They are clear-cut in the impossibility to reduce the deficit with downsized resources and added favorite projects.
Then too remember that wars cost money and lives. Undeniable, even for this president who got the office by questionable ways, who lies when the truth would suit better, who conducts himself in undignified ways and who urges us to accept enhanced figures.
The man is not up to the responsibility/obligation of leadership of a great nation. There is morality and reality to be considered. The figures express our morality. Math does not lie.
Ruth Gadebusch, a former naval officer and trustee of the Fresno Unified School District, is an emeritus member of the Center for Civic Education advocating for respect, fairness and justice for all.