The dirty and not-so-secret message from unlimited spending is that it cannot continue without higher taxes. Already, the United States is in hock to foreign powers, especially the Chinese, who could use our growing national deficits and debt as a political weapon against us.
It is not enough to cut taxes, which stimulate the economy in the short term. If spending is not similarly reduced, the economy will eventually suffer. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Texas Republican, has correctly noted, "The deficit is a symptom; spending is the disease. And we have to do something about the disease."
The great irony is that during the last presidential campaign, Democratic candidate John Kerry reversed course and argued for spending restraint, saying, "When I say a cap on spending, I mean it. We will have to make real choices - and that includes priorities of my own." President Bush, meanwhile, submitted an election budget "built on the sensible premise that government should grow no faster than the average increase in American family incomes of approximately 4 percent."
That is the wrong formula. A Republican president and a Republican Congress should not be about controlling the rate of government growth. They should be about reducing the size, cost, reach and influence of government.
Short of a massive turnaround by freestanding Republicans, taxpayers should lobby their representatives to reform the budget process and reduce spending. But they must also decide to wean themselves from government programs and unnecessary "benefits," or Congress will continue to give the public what they want and what keeps the representatives in office.
Congress should also pass fundamental tax reform that moves us from a tax system based on income to one based on consumption. As the NTUF notes: "If taxpayers can see and feel the burden of government, it will be far easier to permanently control the growth in government spending and provide a platform for long-term economic growth."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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