Mark W. Hendrickson

A primary meme of the Democratic Party in 2013 is that the federal government doesn’t have a spending problem. That is what President Obama reportedly said to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in their January budget negotiations. Acting on that assumption, Obama’s State of the Union address signaled his desire to scuttle the 2011 sequestration deal that appears to be the American people’s last best hope to trim federal spending.

The president’s partisan allies have rushed to take up the cause. Two days after the State of the Union, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) stated, “I want to disagree with those who say we have a spending problem.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently took up the refrain, telling Chris Wallace on Fox News, “It is almost a false argument to say that we have a spending problem.”

With these statements, the political battle lines for 2013 have been drawn. The Democrats don’t even want to talk about spending cuts. For them, the only desirable option is to continue what Washington has been doing for decades regardless of which party was in power—spend more.

With apologies to anyone struggling with alcoholism, a U.S. senator earnestly insisting that he and his colleagues don’t have a spending problem is like an alcoholic denying that he has a drinking problem. While the problem is obvious to some, the senator is stubbornly in denial, not yet ready to face the unpleasant reality.

Harkin’s fellow Congressman, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), recently articulated his party’s agenda, declaring, “The country has a paying-for problem,” not a spending problem; in other words, full speed ahead with spending while we look for more tax revenues.


Mark W. Hendrickson

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.