Last week, Senate Democrats finally produced a budget. It is for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, which means we must keep lurching ahead without a roadmap until then. Many people think we don’t need a map to figure where the country is heading, and since this budget is not going to pass the Republican-controlled House, it’s not really a map to anywhere. Much has been made of the difference between Paul Ryan’s House budget and Patty Murray’s Senate one. Depending on your point of view, the latter is either a reasonable effort to balance a trillion dollars in increased revenues and spending cuts – or it is another example of the Democrats’ refusal to get serious about the deficit, cut taxes and reduce the size of government, which to Republicans minds are all the same thing.
Lost in the “heartless spending cut versus job-killing tax hike” argument is something Murray’s budget actually addresses: Investment. Unlike other spending, investment is not a cost of doing business, it is a guarantee of staying in business. The senate budget includes about $200 billion for investments that we badly need in the country’s worn-out infrastructure: from rail lines to bridges to schools. It comes under the government’s constitutional responsibility to “promote the general welfare,” which many people no longer trust our government to do. But if not our government, then who? I am weary of listening to politicians prattle on about protecting “future generations,” as they let the foundation of that future crumble right now.