(David Mansdoerfer) – All too often I hear politicians, policy wonks and everyday citizens talk about their frustration with Washington D.C. and spout generic rhetoric about what needs to be done. For instance, the terms fraudulent or wasteful spending and inefficiency are often tossed around as ‘easy’ solutions to an overly complex budget problem.
Now, to be clear, there is obvious waste and inefficiency in government on all levels. However, it is important to remember that government is not inherently evil and government is also not the solution to every problem.
While it is understandable that everyday people find it easier to talk in political rhetoric, politicians and policy wonks, however, should be held to an entirely different standard. To this, it is extremely important that we do not let politicians skate by on political rhetoric alone.
This leads me to my main point – it is much easier to critique someone else’s plan than create one of your own. For example, take Congressman Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future. Not only did he produce a detailed plan of his budget for public consumption, he also included several reform ideas on entitlement issues, which, up until this point, have been mostly left off the table.
For his audacity, he had every liberal think-tank and blogger tear his plan apart. To be honest, this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Policy and legislative analysis is critical in ensuring that future laws and policies do what they are intended to do. Yet, this extremely harsh reaction has almost certainly made politicians, especially those in leadership roles, think twice about coming up with original ideas.
Instead of coming up with original and innovative ideas, politicians who are desperate to keep their jobs, rely on critiquing and complaining about the work of others. This becomes even more apparent during the election process.
Instead of letting candidates skate by with their stance on an issue, it is important that they be asked about what they will do to change a problem. Additionally, an acceptable answer can’t be pure rhetoric. (I.E. increase funding, cutting taxes, etc.)
For too long the public has sat around and accepted political rhetoric as is. That might be fine when we are near full-employment and enjoying a budget surplus. But, since we are not enjoying either of these luxuries, rhetoric is no longer good enough. For this, politicians must begin doing what is right and putting out their own plans instead of doing what is easy and critiquing the plans of others.
(David Mansdoerfer is the Director of Federal Affairs for Citizen Outreach)