“I

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Ed Feulner

place econ­omy among the first and most im­por­tant virtues, and public debt as the great­est of dan­gers to be feared,” Thomas Jef­fer­son once wrote. “To pre­serve our in­de­pen­dence, we must not let our rulers load us with per­pet­ual debt.”

Fast-for­ward to 2012, and the no­tion of “per­pet­ual debt” is no longer a con­di­tion to be avoided. It’s a re­al­ity we must con­front — a cri­sis we must solve. This is es­pe­cially true be­cause, as Jef­fer­son warned, our very lib­erty is at stake if we fail to do so.

Re­mem­ber the clash on Capi­tol Hill last year over rais­ing the debt ceil­ing? It may have seemed like a huge bat­tle at the time, but it was merely a hold­ing ac­tion — a rear-guard ma­neu­ver to buy a lit­tle time. Which di­rec­tion has fed­eral spend­ing gone since then? Up, of course, soar­ing to­ward record lev­els and en­dan­ger­ing our eco­nomic fu­ture. We can’t put off the day of reck­on­ing for­ever.

We are for­tu­nate that some mem­bers of Congress get it. Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis­con­sin Re­pub­li­can and chair­man of the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee, re­cently came to speak at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion about his pro­posed bud­get for fis­cal 2013. Ti­tled “The Path to Pros­per­ity: A Blue­print for Amer­i­can Re­newal,” it does some­thing too many bud­get plans fail to do: face re­al­ity and pro­pose some sen­si­ble so­lu­tions.

It’s not per­fect, but there’s much to like. Mr. Ryan’s bud­get would roll back the spend­ing ex­cesses of the past, tackle en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams and make de­fense a pri­or­ity. This may sound like com­mon sense, but many law­mak­ers seem con­tent to make mean­ing­less trims, not se­ri­ous cuts. They act as if we can al­low So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medi­care spend­ing to con­tinue grow­ing — and grow­ing — on au­topi­lot. They se­ri­ously think we can slash de­fense spend­ing, yet con­tinue field­ing a world-class mil­i­tary.

They fo­cus on the rev­enue side of the ledger. The prob­lem, they in­sist, is that not enough tax money is com­ing in. The fact is that public debt, at cur­rent spend­ing rates, is set to be as big as the U.S. econ­omy it­self by 2023 (just 11 years from now). You and I aren’t pay­ing enough — that’s the prob­lem, or so we’re told. It’s as if past tax hikes haven’t proved time and again that gov­ern­ment will quickly con­sume any ad­di­tional funds and then some.

In­deed, we should be re­form­ing taxes. That’s why it’s good to see that Mr. Ryan’s bud­get would re­duce the U.S. cor­po­rate tax rate (al­ready the world’s high­est) from 35 per­cent to 25 per­cent, and re­duce the top in­di­vid­ual in­come tax rate to the same level, while re­form­ing our com­plex and un­fair tax code. These changes would re­verse the flow of jobs to for­eign coun­tries, im­prove in­cen­tives for work­ers and busi­nesses to pro­duce more, and mo­ti­vate in­vestors and busi­nesses to cre­ate jobs.

Both Mr. Ryan’s bud­get and Her­itage’s plan, “Sav­ing the Amer­i­can Dream,” would take an­other vi­tal step to­ward bring­ing the bud­get un­der con­trol: re­peal­ing Oba­macare. As I’ve shown in past col­umns, the law is be­yond fix­ing. It must go.

Even if Oba­macare were con­sti­tu­tional (and it isn’t), it makes a bad fis­cal sit­u­a­tion far worse. It adds tril­lions of dol­lars in spend­ing — and bil­lions in tax hikes. It mas­sively broad­ens a bro­ken Med­i­caid pro­gram. It takes a failed price­con­trol model for Medi­care and ex­pands it. It also in­tro­duces a sub­sidy scheme that is fi­nan­cially un­sus­tain­able.

“We must make our choice be­tween econ­omy and lib­erty or pro­fu­sion and servi­tude,” Jef­fer­son wrote. “If we can pre­vent the gov­ern­ment from wast­ing the labors of the peo­ple, un­der the pre­tense of caring for them, they will be happy.” Law­mak­ers should heed the words of our third pres­i­dent — and have the courage to steer us off the path of fi­nan­cial mis­ery.

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