Spending cuts are difficult but necessary

February 15, 2014 

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus isn't feeling a lot of love right now. In fact, he's getting slammed for his vote that would have cut the cost-of-living increases for military retirees under 62.

You can hear the cries now: "We thought he liked veterans." Shimkus does, but he's also trying to look out for the fiscal well-being of our nation.

This is the predicament fiscal conservatives find themselves in whenever they try to rein in federal spending. People want Congress to tackle the problem -- until it's their spending on the chopping block. No matter where Congress looks to cut, someone is going to say, "Not me."

Shimkus said the vote was an attempt to address "the mandatory spending part of the ledger, which is the real cause of our overall fiscal crisis. If we as members cannot address this small change in mandatory spending, how will we ever address the true drivers of our national debt --Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest payments on our debt?"

How indeed? This wasn't even a pension cut; the proposal would have slowed the rate of increase. But the outcry was so loud that the House passed instead a watered-down version (that still got criticized).

Our national debt now stands at $17.2 trillion, compared with $10.6 trillion in 2009 when President Obama took office. Those numbers are so big that it's difficult to wrap your head around them. In our culture of living on credit, the government keeps functioning even as the debts rack up, and people convince themselves that it really doesn't matter.

It does matter, and good for Shimkus for trying to do something about it.

The longer Congress puts off cuts in mandatory spending, the worse the pain will be when they finally have to do something. And they will someday.

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