Today John Kerry, the esteemed Senator from Massachusetts, said that the media needs to exercise a little responsibility and not give equal time to the Tea Party and their fringe views. My favorite quote is “"It doesn't deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do”. You know what, I love it. Given that the latest Gallup Poll has only 21% of the electorate self-identifying themselves a Liberal we could really clear up the airwaves if the media was going to act as a proper clearing house for who gets equal time on the airwaves. Imagine if every time Nancy Pelosi walked up to the podium the media just got up, turned off the cameras and said “nah, she doesn’t have any legitimate idea about what to do”. Would Guy Smiley be all for that? Saying that we are never, ever going to allow entitlement spending to be touched is just as insane as anything that has come out of the Tea Party. 46% of survey respondents claimed they did not support the recent debt deal as opposed to the 39% that supported it, and 50% of self-identified independents didn’t like it as compared to 33% for it. What is the fringe notion here? What Americans, and the world at this point, want to see is Federal Spending and debt brought under control, and they almost universally understand that it is going to entail reducing spending in the long term, which this debt deal does not address.
The problem of course lies in what it means to cut government spending. People, when asked, will say things like “cut foreign aid” or “end tax breaks to oil companies”, well they might as well advocate the government stop buying toilet paper and pencils as a cost saving measure. People have to realize that reform is going to involve changing what they expect from our government. It is going to mean at some point affecting the monthly checks people are planning on in the future. It means your company’s juicy defense contract for that airplane the DOD does not want is going to have to go away. If we can ever get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, without starting a new war (or invading Libya on the way home from Iraq) we might be able to get some real Defense cuts, though the Legislators and constituencies are already lining up to ensure that does not happen. Entitlement reform and breaking the cost curve of medical spending have to be the next thing. Defiantly standing in front of the cameras saying Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will never be touched and allowed to grow till they absorb the entire budget at the expense of all other things is crazy, and if the media doesn’t portray it as such, then hopefully the American electorate will at the polls.