We've all seen or heard about them. Perhaps they are friends or family members who have demonstrated financial irresponsibility: a college student who has a budget and quickly exceeds it on wild partying; a cousin or best friend who asks for a "loan" and then never pays it back; people whose credit cards are maxed out and they can't afford the finance charges.
Government behaves similarly, playing any or all of those roles. It now resembles an irresponsible parent, spending the children's wages and inheritance as if there were no tomorrow. Republicans lost the spending issue - and their congressional majority - because they behaved like overspending Democrats. Now Democrats in the House are going the Republicans one better. They are promising to increase spending should they win the White House and maintain their congressional majority.
According to an analysis of the fiscal 2009 House Democratic majority's federal budget by Brian Riedl of The Heritage Foundation, (www.heritage.org), every American household would pay on average $3,100 more in federal taxes. That amounts to $1.265 trillion more over five years and $3.911 trillion over 10 years. Worse (if that's possible) the Democratic budget proposal increases discretionary spending by 8 percent and does not eliminate even one wasteful program. It also ignores the coming explosion in the cost of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
None of these increases will be paid for by "soaking the rich" with new tax increases. That means more borrowing from countries that don't have America's best interest as a priority, more inflation and a weaker dollar.
The spending virus has so permeated Congress that members won't even go on the wagon during an election year. The bipartisan DeMint-McCaskill budget amendment that would have required a one-year moratorium on earmarks was soundly defeated 71-29. This is how little respect most members have for those whose money they take through taxation, spending it like frat boys on a weekend bender.
The Washington Examiner newspaper determined that the longer someone serves in the Senate, the more likely they are to favor spending more money and to oppose any suggestion that they stop. According to the Examiner, "the average seniority of senators voting for DeMint-McCaskill was 12 years, while opponents averaged 22 years in the Senate." All three presidential candidates returned from the campaign trail to vote for the measure. Sen. John McCain is far more credible on spending reductions than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama and the moratorium was about slashing earmarks, not the big-ticket items most in need of reform, but getting any politician on record favoring spending reductions (and then following through to see if they mean it) is worth something.
This year, according to Heritage, the federal government will spend $25,117 per household.
The excuse one hears most often is that there is no place legislators can cut spending.
Last year, says the Heritage Foundation, the government made at least $55 billion in overpayments; the Pentagon spent almost $1 million shipping two 19-cent washers from South Carolina to Texas and $293,451 sending an 89-cent washer from South Carolina to Florida. Even the coming postal rate increases aren't that high.
Washington spends $60 billion per year on corporate welfare compared to $50 billion on homeland security. Suburban families are receiving large farm subsidies for the grass in their back yards, subsidies that many of these families never requested and do not want. Over half of all farm subsidies go to corporate farms with average household incomes of $200,000.
And then there is my personal favorite: government auditors spent the last five years examining all federal programs and found that 22 percent of them - costing taxpayers $123 billion per year - fail to show any positive impact on the populations they serve.
This is outrageous. That our elected officials participate in this sham and then claim they can't afford to cut anything ought to disgust us all, especially when some are planning to spend even more. It demonstrates that a government program is proof of eternal life in Washington.
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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