Editorial: GOP picks wrong fight, looks foolish

AVAILABLE AT THE Ripon Public Libary, “Collision 2012” quotes Mitt Romney noting that America remains in decline following several decades of poor policy. Tim Lyke photo

“Collision 2012,” a new book available at the Ripon Public Library, is a chronicle of the 2012 presidential campaign. Written by Washington Post reporter Dan Balz, the 350-pager is geared toward masochists who just didn’t get enough of last fall’s seemingly endless Obama vs. Romney battle royale.

Among the book’s more interesting chapters is the second to last, when Balz interviews GOP nominee Mitt Romney last January for a self-analysis of his unsuccessful White House bid.

After giving President Obama his due for running an effective campaign that turned out his base, Romney explains that his decision to run was based on his belief that America will remain in decline “if it continues with the policies we’ve seen over the past couple decades” and so must “return to more fundamental principles.”

No. 1 principle? “If we keep borrowing a trillion dollars a year,” Romney believes, America risks falling over a precipice....

Right now we face a budget stalemate, with Republicans holding Obamacare hostage by refusing to pass any continuing resolution that funds it. They may be principled, but tactically they’re foolish. And many know it. As of Monday, 22 or 23 House GOP members were prepared to vote to pass a bill with no strings attached, giving Democrats the more than 17 Republican votes they need to fund the government.

Regrettably, Ripon’s congressman, Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, is not among them, at least not yet.

This is no defense of the Affordable Care Act. Most Americans dislike if not disdain Obamacare. Our concern is that — returning to Romney’s fear for this country — it provides more goodies to an America that can’t afford its current entitlements (43 percent... of total federal expenditures).

The Congressional Budget Office projects that in 10 years, Obamacare will account for 3.5 percent of federal spending. It won’t increase the budget deficit now because it includes taxes and lower increases in Medicare payments to hospitals and to Medicare Advantage plans. But what’s ahead? Just look at other entitlement programs the American people have been assured will be self-supporting.

Last May, the Social Security board of trustees reported that Old-Age and Survivors insurance will be depleted in 20 years, with the Disability Insurance Trust Fund used up in 2016.

The Medicare Hospital Trust Fund will go dry in 2026.

The drawdown of these funds should be a greater priority than implementing a new program that surely will further drain the nation’s resources. While we sympathize with House Speaker John Boehner & Co., we disapprove of the stalemate they’ve created.

Obamacare passed both houses of Congress, and for better or worse, is the law of the land. Any hope Republicans had of repealing a law that, over time, surely will be a budget-buster, vanished when their U.S. Senate candidates included a Delaware woman in 2010 who claimed not to be a witch, and two years later, a Missouri fellow who discussed “legitimate rape” and an Indianan who suggested a baby born of rape is a “gift from God.”

The fact that the GOP ran lousy candidates whose electoral losses gave Democrats the edge to fairly and squarely pass Obamacare does not excuse their budget brinkmanship.

Better that they show leadership rather than obstructionism, by electing candidates whose passion is toward removing America from the precipice of which Romney warns....

Obamacare is a new part of the $17 trillion problem. But so are other expenditures that threaten America’s fiscal future and, as Romney said, “younger people and future generations.” (Currently, each American’s share of the national debt is $52,881.)

Republicans best keep their eye on the ball here, working toward a grand solution to America’s fundamental problem — too much government — rather than positioning themselves as the bullies who won’t let anyone play in the sandbox. — Tim Lyke

To read the entire editorial, see the Oct. 10, 2013 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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