Hot Air and Brown Underpants

Are you upset that Prez O and the family are vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard this week? Some are. You know the chatter: nation still struggling with the Great Recession, two wars we can’t win, heath care reform in the dumper and so on. Better that the First Family stay inside the Beltway until all problems are solved. Nah.

I was thinking this morning while gliding on the elliptical trainer about Bob Buehler. Buehler was BFGoodrich’s vice president of government relations — and the prototype for a DC lobbyist and insider. He followed a Kansas congressman to the nation’s capital in the ’50s and like most never left, switching jobs between government, associations and corporations. Buehler had a theory. He opined (and whether this was an original thought I have no idea) that the USA began its decline with the advent of air conditioning.  Until then it was too hot and humid for the DC pooh-bahs to stay there and muck things up year round. They left in the summer. Too much hot air — some of it of their own making.

Of course leaving now has its risks, especially for those facing angry constituents at the town-hell meetings. As Gail Collins wrote this weekend in her column in The New York Times:

One thing I thought all Americans agreed about was that Congress is incapable of getting anything done. But the angry people at those meetings seemed to believe that their elected representatives are strong, sneaky, indifferent to public opinion, and intent on eviscerating popular and much-needed programs in order to create a national health care plan that will make everybody miserable.

This was a shocking new concept, a kind of Bizarro Congress that is exactly the opposite of the one we see stumbling through its paces on TV. That CSPAN Congress would quake in terror if asked to pass a bill against littering, fearing constituents might strain their backs by bending down to pick things up. It took the members 30 years to ax a fighter jet program even the Pentagon hates. Who knew they had the gumption to create death panels?

Yet I look at it as a positive that Obama and many of the White House staff and members of Congress have left town. They deserve some time off with their families. And equally important, when the government leaders return — and commence with all the hot air about health care and so on — they are going to have another problem to deal with: soaring government deficits.

According to AP in a story via USAToday, the administration is expected to announce tomorrow that the federal deficit over the next decade will be $2 trillion more than expected: up to $9 trillion from the previously projected $7 trillion. And the administration dumped that news nugget late Friday afternoon. Sheesh. I thought only corporate PR guys and gals could get away with those kind of announcements.

Folks, this is a bill that eventually is going to come due. The questions are when, how much and who pays? And the answers aren’t going to make some people happy.

Let’s assume that at some point the government has to increase revenue — not just spending and borrowing from China and other countries. Higher taxes anyone?

Let’s also pretend that Obama is sincere and truthful in saying that only those earning north of $250k a year will see higher taxes.

I’m not sure that this reality has hit as yet with the $250K and over crowd. Maybe they have been on vacation.

But when it does, expect to see some people showing up at town-hall meetings wearing brown underpants. They are the ones who will be paying to send grandma before the death panel. Woot.

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