By SHERMAN FREDERICK
The great thing about some rock anthems is you can make the words apply to just about anything.
For example, consider “The Weight.” It is ranked by people who rank such cultural trivia as the 16th-best rock song of the ’60s. You will surely recognize the opening lines:
I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin’ about half past dead/ Just need to find a place where I can lay my head/ ‘Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?’/ He just grinned and shook my hand and/ ‘No’, was all he said.
Take a load off Fanny/ Take a load for free/ Take a load off Fanny/ And you put the load right on me/ (You put the load right on me).
For me, the song evokes a feeling of an abiding sense of responsibility to others — a mission of mercy to take some kind of unspecified load off Fanny. A kind of “help your brother” theme. Oddly — and this I admit freely — I can’t get the song out of my head when contemplating the perpetual budget mess in Washington, D.C.
The conundrum I see as a non-Beltway person is neither side in this bizarre budget dance can quite agree on when or how to take the weight off Fanny.
While President Barack Obama runs around like his hair were on fire trying to blame others for the upcoming sequestration faceoff, the unvarnished truth is that sequestration was his idea. He signed it into law as a way to get his tax hikes and then kick the spending cuts down the road. Now the deal he made is due.
As a refresher, allow Forbes magazine to remind us of how this all went down: “The sequester was enacted during the bitter 2011 debt ceiling negotiations and is a part of the Budget Control Act. The debt ceiling was raised in 2011 in exchange for $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, which were to be determined by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives, a ‘supercommittee,’ in 2013. If no deal is reached by this committee then automatic, across-the-board cuts of 10 percent will go into effect.”
Wow. A whole 10 percent. President Obama says it’s a “meat cleaver” approach.
Policemen and firefighters will be let go and children won’t be educated. Yet, he forgets to explain that when it comes to making the cuts, the president will have some discretion about what is cut. So, if he cuts firefighters instead of something else like, say, research on hair re-growth in left-brained mice, that’s on him and no one else.
House Speaker John Boehner hasn’t been shy about reminding Americans that Obama got his tax hikes on the “rich” last month and now won’t live up to his cuts. If the president doesn’t like his sequester deal, he says, the president should replace it with other spending cuts that put the country on a path toward a balanced budget.
But this is a president and a Congress that can’t pass a budget, much less cut one.
What’s particularly galling for the average American watching Washington fool around with a measly 10 percent cut in spending, is that families across this country have already made that sacrifice and far more.
Take the price of gasoline, for example. Since Obama took office, gasoline has skyrocketed from $1.80 per gallon to about $4 per gallon. American families could not kick that budget crisis down the road. They had to make cuts to the household budget right then and there.
So, it is difficult to feel any sympathy for a federal government that can’t even make a modest cut in proposed spending, much less real spending, over 24 months. And lest I have not been clear on this point: A pox on both Republicans and Democrats for that.
Hate to tell you this, Fanny, but as long as we have this president and this Congress, you’re going to have to bear that load a whole lot longer.
Sherman Frederick is former editor of the Tribune-Herald and former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.