Groundhog Day Used to Mean Something in This Town

| February 2 2013

Groundhog Day Used to Mean Something In This Town

Sometimes I wake up feeling like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. I have this unshakable feeling that I’ve lived  this day before.

Lindsay Lohan has been arrested, Peyton Manning missed the Super Bowl, Daniel Day Lewis was nominated for an Oscar, Britney Spears is making a comeback, and Chris Brown is getting in fights. There are these recurring themes in pop culture that make me have that déjà vu feeling.

Washington politics has a similar “Groundhog Day” effect on me. It seems history keeps repeating itself, especially when it comes to leaders saying they will cut spending and reduce the deficit. The tired phrases about “having a conversation” and “bringing down the deficit” and the empty promises given in every speech to “get serious on spending” and make “necessary reforms” make me think I’m watching that large squirrel poke his little head out to see his shadow again.

It feels like an infinite loop of “let’s cut spending” and “come together” to “reduce the debt and deficit.” I’ve heard it as many times as I’ve seen Carrie and Big get back together on ”Sex and the City.” I suppose lawmakers share Big’s fear of commitment.

Let me take you back to 2004. George W. Bush had just been re-elected and said in a speech, “I would suggest [deficit hawks] look at our budget that we’ve submitted to Congress, which does, in fact, get the deficit down, cut in half in five years.”

Fast-forward to 2009– new president, same tune. Newly elected President Obama wrote in an official White House blog, “[T]oday I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. This will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we’ve long neglected. But I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay — and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control.”

It was a nice sentiment. It would have been even nicer if each year after he said this we didn’t run trillion-dollar-plus deficits.

And yet these politicians toe the line as if we will fall for it. Just a couple weeks ago newly re-elected President  Obama said in a press conference, “We’ve already done close to $2 trillion in deficit reduction, and if you add the interest that we won’t be paying, because of less spending and increased revenue, it adds up to about $2.5 trillion,” he said. “The consensus is we need about $4 trillion to stabilize our debt and our deficit, which means we need about $1.5 trillion more.”

No wonder every day is Groundhog Day in Washington. The government says what we want to hear time and time again, but they never follow through. Chances are the next president will pick up where these two left off, unless we hold them accountable.

I can see why Bill Murray was so grumpy on Groundhog Day. Living the same day over and over again would make anyone less than cheery.

BankruptingAmerica.org is an educational project of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to providing facts and insight on the effects public policy has on Americans’ financial well-being.

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