WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Jess Brown says the road to a healthy budget is paved with discarded misconceptions, "Americans operate on a myth. And the myth is, there's plenty of waste, fraud, and abuse in the national government, and if someone would just go find it and cut it out, there'll be plenty of money for everything."
He says the myth may stem from a misunderstanding of how severe the problem in Washington is. The federal government doesn't just spend more than it takes in; it spends way more than it takes in.
Brown explains, "I just don't believe anyone is going to put together a coalition to cut 42% of all the expenditures by the national government. You can elect Democrats, Republicans, or pollywogs. I don't think that's going to happen."
Point being both sides have preferred solutions. Democrats will want to raise taxes; Republicans will want to cut spending.
But here's the reality according to Brown, "Nobody should believe we're going to raise enough revenue to solve the problem. That's nuts. But nobody should believe we're going to cut 42% of the spending either. That's equally a political pipe dream."
Brown's point is that saying we need both tax hikes and spending cuts isn't a political compromise.
It's not an agenda.
It's the only way the federal government will forge an agreement that fixes its budget.
Brown says, "Until Nancy Pelosi grinds the enamel off her teeth explaining to her constituents about Social Security and until Mo Brooks grinds the enamel of his teeth explaining to Huntsville you're going to have to pay higher taxes to support your national government, we're never going to get to the promised land."
And in this case, the promised land isn't some utopia, it's just a federal government that can afford to pay its bills.
And to get to that promised land, all sides have to give up ground. It will take time.
Brown explains, "It's a slow path. It's a ten-year path we're looking at to try to get us to where the national government is not spending any more in a given year than it's taking in."
Brown adds it will mean hard choices for nearly every government program, "I'm afraid that in Huntsville we get a little bit isolated and skewed in our thinking. We believe that if we say national defense is important, that all those other special interest groups in Washington are going to say, 'Well, my gracious, let's just not cut anything out of defense.'"
Brown says this isn't ideological.
It's not about whether we need strong defense or not.
We do, and our contractors, lobbyists and politicians will argue fiercely for it.
But across the country people will argue just as fiercely for education, agriculture, Social Security, and dozens of other programs.
If we're going to get anywhere, Brown says everywhere will have to give a little, "Huntsville needs to smell the roses. Madison County and North Alabama needs to smell the roses. There won't be a budget deal that really makes appreciable progress on balancing the budget where the defense department will be unscathed."
It's a tough truth for the Rocket City, but it's also an honest look at the political landscape.