There are some with more credibility on this issue than President Bush. They include Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who is chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who chairs the RSC's Budget and Spending Taskforce. They announced on Wednesday their intention to introduce a balanced budget consistent with promises made in the 1994 Contract with America, which helped Republicans gain a House majority for the first time in four decades.
The conservatives' budget would go far beyond anything President Bush intends. They estimate it would save $350 billion on Medicare, Medicaid and other skyrocketing social programs. Another $300 billion in savings would come from a complete restructuring of the departments of Education, Commerce and Energy. The ultimate restructuring would be to get rid of all three of them, especially Education and Energy, but since that is unlikely to happen, a restructuring that reduces unnecessary personnel and eliminates waste, fraud and abuse would at least show that Republicans are returning to their ideological roots of smaller government, less spending and lower taxes.
Pence says, "With record deficits and debt, the time has come to level with the American people; we are not living within our means." The time hasn't just come. It has expired. If Republicans don't stop the unnecessary spending now, when they control all three branches of government, how will they contrast themselves from Democrats and appeal to voters to elect Republicans instead of members of the other party?
Proof that there is eternal life is a government program. Once born, a government program is nearly impossible to kill. That's mostly because politicians are spending our money and not their own. Competing constituencies endlessly argue for increasingly larger shares of the pot when they should be told in many more instances to get their own pot and fill it with the results of their initiative and labor.
There is another problem. Too many people want too much from government and are unwilling to do more for themselves. Politicians from both parties know this. Unless people demand less, they will get more spending and eventually higher taxes, or greater debt to foreign powers to pay for it all.
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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