Yesterday Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan unveiled the Republican plan to cut federal spending by nearly $6 trillion over the next ten years.
It hasn't got a chance.
I hate to sound so cynical, especially since I hold out fond hopes that the American electorate is at last becoming sick of big government, like children who have eaten so many of those corn candies that they can't stand the sight of them for the rest of their lives.
But it doesn't seem to be happening. A new Barna survey, released yesterday, indicates that the two issues driving most people as they think about elections to come are personal security and comfort. And in this country, that translates into government.
Voters, ostensibly with the taste of too much corn-candy government swilling around in their mouths, sent Republicans to Washington in surprising numbers last November. Even Representative Ryan's typically liberal home state established Republican majorities in both chambers and a Republican in the governor's mansion. Now the good people of Wisconsin seem ready to throw the whole lot out on the street.
Americans are not going to embrace the Republicans' budget-cutting fix. If the government shuts down, they may be ready to blame the Republicans and start working to overthrow them a year from this fall. And with the President and Democrats tweeting them on, they'll probably succeed.
We've been told all our lives that life consists in personal security and comfort. Get an education so you can get a job so you can have what you want in a country big enough to make sure you can keep it, mostly. Episodic eruptions of good sense over the size of the federal government are quelled once the possiblity comes to light that budget cuts might affect me.
Life is stuff, and much of the stuff of our lives, particularly the older we grow, is bound up in government largesse - preserving our stuff at someone else's expense. We may not like big government, but we don't like losing our stuff even more.
And with no effective counter-balancing voice teaching us to be content with such things as we have, deny ourselves and live for others, and remember that this world is not our home, what else can we do?
How many of us, I wonder, like Hezekiah cured of his illness, are happy to believe that the inevitable collapse won't happen in our lifetimes? Perhaps it won't. But we cannot keep this up indefinitely. We are leaving a legacy for the generations that will succeed us, and every day it amounts to a greater and greater burden.When it becomes too great for them to bear, what will become of them and this nation?
The prophetic voices of Scripture warned over and over about depending on mammon rather than God. Where are those voices today?
Additional related texts: Matthew 16.24, 25; 1 Timothy 6.6-10; Ephesians 4.17-24
A conversation starter: "Do you think the Republican plan to trim the federal budget has a chance of being adopted? Are we really ready to cut back on our addiction to government?"
T. M. Moore