President Obama will be giving a speech later today laying out his plan for reducing the budget deficit. This, of course, comes after the fact that in his first 19 months in office alone, he created larger deficits than Presidents Washington through Reagan combined and the fact that the current deficit is up 16% in the past 6 months. This also comes after he formed a deficit commission to formulate potential solutions to the deficit only to largely ignore their suggestions. The whole idea of him speaking on deficit reduction is on par with President Obama running a pitching camp or Vice President Biden teaching a math class. Nonetheless, we all know actions speak louder than words, and President Obama and many of the politicians in Washington D.C. have not only created massive budget deficits, they themselves have shown large deficits in leadership and character amongst our nation’s politicians.
Last week, President Obama, Senator Reid, and Speaker Boehner came to a "compromise" regarding the FY2011 budget. This compromise was touted by GOP leadership as a $38.5 billion spending cut, but putting that in perspective, during the eight days prior to the compromise, the deficit grew by $54.1 billion, more than $15 billion more than was supposedly cut. When the dust settled, the spending cuts actually amounted to only $14 billion, and the budget weighs in at $778 billion higher than the 2008 budget. It isn’t any wonder that during budget discussions, Governor Palin referred to those involved in negotiations as a "leaderless" government and referred to President Obama’s actions as "petulant obstruction" and "appalling". It has become increasingly clear that the budget deficit is due in large part to a deficit in leadership. When Speaker Boehner was agreeing to pseudo budget cuts like unspent construction and census money while at the same time allowing spending increases for some of President Obama’s favorite programs, Governor Palin asserted that the Tea Party wasn’t getting what it wanted from the deal:
Well, what the tea party wants is for government to be smaller and smarter. So, you know, when you consider that we just saw an increase in government spending by about 28% and saw a little chip out of that to the tune of 1%, I would say that no, the tea party and Americans in general who are concerned about the fiscal health of our country did not get what they wanted. We have a lot of work to do to help educate Congress when it comes to the expectations that we have when we send our politicians to DC to do the job of making sure that our country is solvent.
Governor Palin has shown a surplus of leadership, both inside and outside of office. Leadership is not a title you carry; it is a characteristic you display. While in office, Governor Palin cut her budget 9.5% over her predecessor This included vetoing hundreds of millions of dollars in spending and cutting federal earmark requests by more than 80% in a state known for bringing home the bacon. This is not only leadership; it is courage. As Governor Palin has stated, it takes "courage and real leadership" to make cuts during a time of plenty as she did. During her time as Governor, she put $5 billion in state savings while paying down unfunded pension programs and forward funding education, and her policy legacy has given Alaska a current $12 billion surplus.
Outside of office, Governor Palin has led in opposition to Obamacare, in support of border security, and in warning about coming inflation due to the problems of quantitative easing. She has also taken the lead in real fiscal reform and addressing the budget deficit. She was the first and only potential presidential candidate to support Congressman Ryan’s road map. When Congressman Ryan released the House GOP’s FY2012 proposal last week, Governor Palin called it a "good start", but she also noted it still didn’t stop deficit spending. What is the solution then? As she later said on Judge Jeanine, "everything is fair game" when it comes to addressing the spending/deficit/debt problem in Washington. Governor Palin said that both entitlement programs and discretionary spending need to be dealt with, and she stated that budgets should start first with constitutionally mandated services, not with other programs. These are ideas of a bold leader, not of one who cannot even give an answer on how to address entitlement reform.
The leadership deficit in Washington is closely tied to character deficit. Washington politicians claim to be future focused, but their lack of seriousness in addressing spending merely means that they will play "Kick the Can" with the future of America. You cannot win the future when you are already losing the present by being unwilling to address spending problems. Governor Palin characterizes our nation’s massive debt as "generational theft" and "immoral". She sees that the problems in Washington as a deficit of character, not simply poor economics. Politicians are more apt to do what is politically expedient rather than what is right for the country. The budget deficits our so called leadership have accrued are immoral because they are stealing from the prosperity of the future. Leaders of true character recognize this and are willing to address it by cutting spending and addressing entitlements.
Character goes beyond simply doing what is right; it also is refusing to engage in wrong and unethical behavior even when it is pervasive. Crony capitalism and corrupt corporatism have infested state capitals and D.C. far too long. Governor Palin called out the unethical behavior Alaska GOP chairman and fellow oil and gas commissioner, Randy Reudrich. Governor Palin took on the crony capitalism in Juneau by re-vamping the corruption tainted oil tax structure in addition to passing ethics reform. She has called out the Obama administration for their revolving door with the financial industry. Governor Palin has shown character driven leadership in the face of pervasive corruption.
Washington D.C. faces a serious deficit spending problem, but that problem will only continue if the issues of leadership and character deficits are not simultaneously addressed. These two traits are not gained by reading piles of policy white papers, nor are they achieved through focus group testing. One must have a strong moral compass and an ability to draw from life experiences. As Governor Palin said in her most recent Facebook post, "there’s a leadership vacuum in the White House right now, but that’s nothing that another good old fashion election can’t fix".
Updated: This supposed compromise is worse than even estimated earlier this week. The Congressional Budget Office states that this "deal" cuts spending by a mere $353 million, not $38.4 billion or even $14 billion. By contrast, during her time as Governor, Governor Palin cut spending by roughly three times that much–$1,127,400,000–in her FY2010 budget compared to her predecessors FY2007 budget. This is cutting at the state level with a smaller pool of revenue and a much, much small number of constituents than at the federal level. Governor Palin was right again. They were simply arguing over " peanuts".