July 21, 2011
we continue to ignore the federal government’s debt and unfunded liabilities, we’ll
place a crushing burden on our children and grandchildren. Look, everyone has a
piece of the solution. So it’s time to roll up our sleeves, work together, and
fix this thing!
That’s the message transmitted by a growing number of voices and
organizations. They’re responsible.
Their ideas are constructive. Their
tone is civil. They’re not interested
in irrelevant, petty questions about the proper role of government. After all, what
did ideologues ever achieve?
No one better exemplifies the can’t-we-all-get-along chorus than
David M. Walker. He ran the U.S. Government
Accountability Office (GAO) for a decade. In the final years of his tenure,
Walker crisscrossed the nation in a “Fiscal
Wake-Up Tour” to publicize Washington’s
ballooning deficits. The establishment media -- 60 Minutes, The New York
Times -- dutifully crafted fawning profiles.
In 2008, after leaving the GAO, Walker
moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut -- a corrupt, impoverished city
state that policy-wise, can credibly be called the most suicidal in the nation.
With funding from the Peter G.
Peterson Foundation, the über-accountant
established the Comeback America
Initiative (CAI), to “promote fiscal responsibility and sustainability by
engaging the public and assisting key policymakers on a non-partisan basis.”
The CAI advisory council is mystifyingly incongruous stable of wonks.
The neoconservative Heritage Foundation and libertarian Cato Institute have
representatives, but they’re outnumbered by members of far-left policy shops,
such as the Progressive Policy Institute, Urban Institute, Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities, and Third Way.
And one CAI advisor doesn’t exhibit Walker’s
false view that bureaucrats are committed to “the greater good” and feel a
“duty of loyalty to the collective best interest of all rather than the
interest of a few.” In 2008, a reporter asked University of Connecticut
economist Fred Carstensen about layoffs and wage freezes for the state’s
notoriously overcompensated bureaucrats. The pompous, public-payroll professor sniffed,
“I almost resent this kind of discussion.”
Product is more important than personalities, so let’s examine a
recent CAI panel discussion. Earlier this month, Walker’s
group cosponsored a forum in Hartford.
CAI’s partner was No Labels, a band of fatuous
politicos and media hounds whose goal is to “‘put the labels aside’ in an
effort to seek common sense solutions to our nation’s problems.” (Walker is a “founding
The event’s guest speaker was U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, who’s enthusiastically
backed nearly every expansion of the federal government, at home and abroad, in
the last quarter-century. Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon was booked as the forum’s token right-leaner, but at the last minute, had to cancel. Two ex-fedpols from Connecticut, Nancy Johnson and Barbara Kennelly, did show up. The former is a quintessential New
England Republican -- average rating on the National Taxpayer
Union (NTU) 100-point scale: 53. After leaving Washington in 1999, Kennelly
(average NTU rating: 23), the daughter of legendary Democratic National
Committee Chairman John Bailey, went to work for the don’t-you-dare-touch-a-penny-of-our-benefits
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
On July 20, CAI released “Restoring Fiscal Sanity: The Tough
Choices We Face and Two Possible Paths Forward.” It averred that the U.S., “arguably
the greatest [nation] in the history of mankind,” was in jeopardy due to “a
lack of political courage, excessive partisanship, and/or ideological
rigidity.” By now, the report’s proposals should be no surprise: Ditch the “Bush/Obama” income-tax cuts.
Tweak Social Security and Medicare -- don’t privatize them. Keep the death tax.
Cut troops in Afghanistan
“to no more than 45,000 by December 31, 2014.”
For someone who preens over being above it all, evidently, Walker isn’t sophisticated
enough to grasp his pro-Big Government bias. Or perhaps he doesn’t care. Either
way, he’s used his media-darling, Serious Public Servant standing to legitimize
the continuance of high taxes, a massive military-industrial complex, and unworkable,
European-style healthcare and pension programs.
Contrary to Walker’s
tired technocratism and trendy, management-consultant buzzwordsmithing, Uncle
Sam’s impending insolvency isn’t an accounting problem that requires
“transformational reforms.” It’s the inevitable result of a betrayal of the
Republic’s longstanding aversion to what libertarian scholar Murray Rothbard called
state. (Mercy -- what an “incendiary” term. Someone notify No Labels.)
pervasive, unaffordable, and destructive meddling around the globe and in Americans’
personal and economic lives, CAI’s mission to make the federal government “more
future focused, results oriented, successful, efficient, equitable and
sustainable” is pathetically naïve. Walker, who’s
pondering a run for the U.S. Senate, should stick to spreadsheets.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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