Donald Lambro

As for federal spending on behalf of low-income Americans, it's been growing by leaps and bounds. Anti-poverty expenditures rose from $190 billion in 1990 to $348 billion in 2000, soaring to $638 billion this year, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Since 2000, food stamp expenditures grew by 229 percent, child care assistance by 89 percent, Medicaid by 80 percent, and the Children's Health Insurance Program by 470 percent. But suggest that the growth of these and other poverty programs can be slowed even a little bit, and the Democrats cry that would shred the safety net.

As the White House pushes for some budget-cutting compromise in exchange for raising the debt limit, Obama and the Democrats are charging that the Republicans are solely to blame for blocking any deal that includes tax increases -- another falsehood.

A number of Senate Democrats who face tough re-election races next year have begun to join forces to flatly oppose higher taxes in the debt ceiling bill.

No sooner did Conrad's tax-raising budget bill see the light of day than Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who is at the top of the Democrats' endangered species list, came out against it.

"Debt reduction should focus on spending cuts. Raising taxes at a time when our economy remains fragile takes us in the wrong direction. That won't create jobs in Nebraska," Nelson told reporters Wednesday.

Freshman Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another vulnerable Democrat facing a tough race next year, also sided with the GOP on keeping tax increases off the table. "I don't believe in tax hikes. We have to start living within our means in this country," he said.

Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana isn't about to vote for any tax increase that whacks her state's dominant oil industry as Obama has proposed. Sens. Jon Tester of Montana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan also face competitive races that will make voting for higher taxes in a weak economy more than problematic.

With just 53 Senate Democrats, and so many likely desertions, the numbers are running against Majority Leader Harry Reid's hopes of mustering the 60 votes needed to cut off a GOP filibuster against any tax-hiking budget bill.

There are many growth incentives we can quickly adopt to get the U.S. economy up and running again at full throttle, but burdening struggling job creators with another $2 trillion in taxes is not one of them.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.



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