When bud­gets meant con­trol­ling spending

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

The term “bud­get” usu­ally con­jures up im­ages such as set­ting lim­its in or­der to help in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies and busi­nesses spend within their means and avoid run­ning up un­af­ford­able debts.

But not any­more. Un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, a bud­get now means just the op­po­site of what one would in­tu­itively think it means.

The bud­get the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has pre­sented to the Amer­i­can peo­ple is a new type of bud­get it ex­pands our gov­ern­ment in un­prece­dented ways and presents the largest tax in­crease in his­tory. It raises to­tal spending to $3.9 tril­lion in 2009, or 28 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, the high­est level as a share of GDP since World War II.

In the next five years, the debt will dou­ble, and in 10 years, it will triple.

This bud­get cre­ates more debt than un­der ev­ery pres­i­dent from Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton to Ge­orge W. Bush com­bined and makes us more de­pen­dent on China and other gov­ern­ments to fi­nance our debt, threat­en­ing the value of our cur­rency and our fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity.

The pres­i­dent’s bud­get also pro­poses to set us on a path to na­tion­al­ize the health-care sys­tem at a huge cost, and, for good mea­sure, it throws in na­tion­al­iz­ing the abil­ity of peo­ple to bor­row to send their kids to col­lege. It sug­gests that the best way to ad­dress cli­mate change is to cre­ate a new na­tional sales tax on every­one’s elec­tric bills. And, at a time when mil­lions of Amer­i­cans are strug­gling to find jobs, it pro­poses tax­ing small busi­nesses, our na­tion’s en­gine of job growth, at rate that could be seen as con­fis­ca­tory.

In other words, the pres­i­dent’s pro­posal is a mas­sive and breath­tak­ing doc­u­ment, and it should not be called a bud­get. Rather, it should be called a blue­print for the France-ifica- tion of Amer­ica, a note­book for na­tion­al­iza­tion, or a memo for mas­sive debt cre­ation. But a bud­get, by any sense of the word, it is not.

Our econ­omy is, of course, in a se­vere re­ces­sion. Peo­ple are wor­ried about the value of their homes, the sta­bil­ity of their jobs, and their abil­ity to pay their bills. Th­ese are se­ri­ous times. It is rea­son­able for the gov­ern­ment to try to pull us out of this down­turn by spending and bor­row­ing since it is the last source of sig­nif­i­cant liq­uid­ity for this econ­omy and for sta­bi­liz­ing key ar­eas such as the fi­nan­cial sec­tor. How­ever, this re­ces­sion will end, and the econ­omy will re­cover — we are a re­silient cando na­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, this pro­posal of­fers no con­tain­ment. No ex­pen­di­tures of any sig­nif­i­cance are pre­sumed to be lim­ited in their growth, much less re­duced, other than spu­ri­ously claim­ing sav­ings for war ex­pen­di­tures that were never go­ing to oc­cur in the years 2012-19.

No en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams are ad­dressed in re­gard to the obli­ga­tions and debt-driv­ing costs they gen­er­ate as the baby boomers head into full re­tire­ment. In­stead all we get is a mas­sive ex­pan­sion in the size of gov­ern­ment as a per­cent­age of GDP and higher taxes on en­trepreneurs and job-cre­at­ing busi­nesses. It is as if some­one down in the base­ment of the White House has said, “Let’s use this time when every­one gen­er­ally agrees we need to spend to turn around this econ­omy as a chance to lock in spending and the ex­pan­sion of the gov­ern­ment for as far as the eye can see.”

We, in Congress, want to work with the pres­i­dent to get the Amer­i­can econ­omy back on track — from fix­ing the hous­ing sec­tor, to re­form­ing the fi­nan­cial mar­kets, to help­ing ev­ery Amer­i­can re­ceive high-qual­ity, af­ford­able health care. And to­gether, we can craft a bud­get that would re­duce the deficit over time to at least 2 per­cent of GDP and would re­duce the per­cent­age of pub­licly held debt back to 40 per­cent of GDP once this eco­nomic down­turn is over.

But the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pro­posal is not a bud­get that the rest of Amer­ica would rec­og­nize as a doc­u­ment for liv­ing within one’s means. It sim­ply spends too much, taxes too much and bor­rows too much. It is a game plan for an ex­plo­sive ex­pan­sion of the size and in­tru­sive­ness of the na­tional gov­ern­ment based on a be­lief that bu­reau­crats can more ef­fec­tively man­age large seg­ments of our econ­omy and our daily lives than the pri­vate sec­tor or the in­di­vid­ual.

Ul­ti­mately, this path will re­sult in a mas­sive price tag that mortgages our chil­dren’s fu­ture and threat­ens to bank­rupt our na­tion.

Judd Gregg, New Hamp­shire Repub­li­can, is rank­ing mem­ber of the United States Se­nate’s Bud­get Com­mit­tee.

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