Bad Plan vs. No Plan

The current legislative battle over the budget, debt ceiling, and federal spending between Republicans and Democrats will result in disaster, no matter who claims “victory.” That’s because it’s a battle between a bad/flawed approach to dealing with the nation’s problems and a failure to even attempt to address the problems.

The Democrats recognize the majority of the problems, if not all of them, by any means, but their “solutions” in too many cases consist of throwing more money at flawed government programs. Sometimes, more funding is necessary. You aren’t going to get more women back in the work force without more childcare options, and “private” options are more expensive than what many women could earn. You won’t get better healthcare for veterans without more and better doctors. You can’t fix bridges and roads without spending more money. We have national parks that are overcrowded and falling apart for lack of maintenance funding… and so on.

But other spending is insane. Why should we spend tens of billions more subsidizing a failing higher education system? We already have millions of “graduates” who will never have a job requiring a college education, largely because they lack skills in basic reading, writing, calculating and problem-solving, skills that have to be taught and learned young. We need education reforms that start at the bottom, not at the top, and offer true equality of opportunity for students with ability and determination, not a free pass to watered-down education for everyone.

We spend unnecessary billions on bases and weapons and military procurement that even the most hawkish generals and admirals don’t need or want.

We spend billions on expensive emergency room health care because we don’t provide basic affordable health care for the poorest Americans.

The current Republican “solution” seems to be to spend less on all programs, good and bad, to build useless border walls, and to push for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans at a time of the greatest income and wealth inequality in U.S. history.

The likely result of the current “battle” is spending less than the Democrats are demanding and more than the Republicans will offer, with a possible stand-off that will worsen the economic situation. In the end, the Democrats will probably “win,” most possibly with a Pyrrhic victory, because the Republicans offer no real alternative… and even if the Republicans do “win” they have no real plan for the country, with the result that matters will be even worse, because the problems aren’t going away, and all too many of the proposed “solutions” don’t address the root causes, and just provide costly “bandages.”

9 thoughts on “Bad Plan vs. No Plan”

  1. Joe says:


    Our system is so captured by various interests that I don’t see a way to fix it. Do you?

    1. Not so long as the Democrats think more money is the answer to everything and the Republicans are more vested in opposing the Democrats rather than proposing realistic and politically practical reforms, and while most of the electorate believes they’re entitled, either because they’ve suffered or because they “deserve” what they have, if not more.

  2. Hanneke says:

    Best option might be if some of those ‘stupid’ expenditures get erased to create a smaller bill, as a trade-off to get to a compromise that can get through. If it was a strategy, ask high so you can haggle a bit.
    But I’d bet the cuts will not fall in the areas of military spending or other such areas beloved of Republicans, but will instead be inflicted on the elements meant to help the poorest and most powerless.

  3. Tim says:

    Here in the UK I was informed that each new US aircraft carrier employs 5000 people in the shipyard and when launched, the same number to crew it.

    That is why there is always a new carrier being planned.

    So 10k jobs. I suppose it makes sense.

    I wish we could do it 🙂

    1. Jerry says:

      The line being promoted is always the number of jobs created. What so few seem to consider is what type of job?

  4. Postagoras says:

    Since the Republican party has opted out of policy and legislation, it’s hard to fault the Democrats for going big when they have the chance. They’re likely to lose in the midterms, whatever they do. Far from perfect, but this is sadly how we do policy now.

  5. Postagoras says:

    I agree that “We need education reforms that start at the bottom, not at the top.”
    But at the bottom, states and counties are not making good decisions. The notion that the states are a bunch of policy laboratories to try out different ideas only works if the better policies get adopted.
    States that were at the bottom of educational achievement lists fifty years ago, are still there.
    So while I agree that Federal meddling in education policy is far from ideal, it’s all we’ve got if the state doesn’t care.

    1. Shannon says:

      You will struggle to help the people who don’t want to help themselves and that includes many people in states that have low quality education. Those are the people most likely to fight federal interference in their local education. They don’t see the value in education, don’t want to raise taxes to pay for it, and don’t trust the government to educate their children for a variety of reasons ranging from conspiracies to religion.
      I’m not convinced that mass quality education is achievable as much as I would like everyone to receive a quality education through 12th grade.

    2. Alan Naylor says:

      Speaking from a position as an instructor now, and with many high school friends who went into education, my observation is that much of the problems in education come out of federal meddling in education.

      The notion of standardized testing is fine and all, to establish where a school or teaching system is. However because funding is tied to doing well on these tests, teachers teach to the test, not to educate.

      Because students are not held accountable, and parents are not participatory in their children’s education, students learn far less. It’s a sad truth that many parents look at the public education system more primarily as a public day care system then an education one. Not only that, but they expect the schools to raise their children in many ways.

      Many of the imposed requirements that tie teacher’s hands or tie up time in classrooms with pointless things are passed down from the federal and state levels.

      My experience in college and with college professors shows it’s worse in many ways there. College professors are frequently part time, adjunct, professors because the schools do not want to pay full time or allow tenure. Professor’s pay and retention is frequently tied to student feedback, so harsh or demanding professors who turn out quality students get bad marks from unhappy students. Colleges are frequently more concerned with increasing enrollment, bringing in more money, and the sports teams than the quality of the education they provide.

      I wish I had a solution that was easy and neat. Money is a big part of it, certainly. Getting parents to be involved (some how) is definitely part of it as well. Placing an emphasis on educating to build skills would be a good goal, I feel.

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