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Posted by on Mar 21, 2011 in Economy, Politics, Society | 0 comments

Moderates are the Problem

As I headed for the auto parts store this morning I had some radio time to kill before “Car Talk.” I decided to tune C-Span. Ironically, C-Span was airing Wednesday’s House of Representatives debate on NPR funding.

I listened to a few minutes of what has become the usual political demagoguery surrounding this and most any issue. It is a well worn argument by now. There is a spending crisis, we can’t afford anything and we especially will no longer fund X (insert a program which does not pass any uber-right purity test).

The counter-argument-if you can spend for a Mars mission and an F-35 engine the Pentagon says we do not need; the paltry sum which funds X doesn’t matter.

These all ignore the 500-pound gorilla in the room-entitlements.

Anyone who is serious about deficit reduction knows the arguments we are having over discretionary spending are window dressing.

I won’t repeat the numbers here; but readers who can’t stipulate this fact might want to read another article. If you are still here, you probably agree or at least accept the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (NCFRR) Co-chair’s report.

It tells us the real answer to fiscal sanity is a combination of taxes and entitlement reform. I am under no illusion the NCFRR has all the answers. The report’s recommendations however, are a legitimate start.

Since it has become clear none of the efforts of either the Republicans or Democrats will have any legitimacy-pass in the opposite chamber-it begs the question, why. Why does the right continue to spend precious time settling old political scores like Planned Parenthood and NPR? Why does the left resist most spending cuts on principle?

The answer lies in the political calculus.

It is easy to calculate who can get you elected. The people in the small tails of the Bell Curve are the people who will get you elected. These are the same groups who salivate over both sides of an issue like NPR funding.

We moderates and independents have proved we are fickle and can not be relied upon. We do not donate to political campaigns, we have no ground game and we sit out general elections.

Candidates like Senator John McCain see soft support from moderates and fold. Some say we were responsible for his transformation to being a card carrying right-winger.

The right and left wing is unable to fix our fiscal mess. They can’t be trusted by the other side and their solutions are too extreme. This was a mess made for moderates and independents. With the current patronage model we have in our national government however, moderates are on their own.

We will have to force the political parties to see it our way with our dollars, work and votes. Until we show up and one party or the other decides to endorse real, across the board fiscal reform, zeroing out funds to NPR member stations makes this whole exercise just feel like a book burning.

D. R. Welch is a civil engineer working for a southern state who lives with his wife and daughter. He has practiced engineering as an owner of a civil engineering firm and now in the public sector. He understands both the perils of owning a small business and delivering the best transportation system possible to the taxpayer.

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