Mary Katharine Ham

Well, it’s been just a few short months since Grandmadame Speaker began her unique tenure as caretaker of both the country and the children. On the day of her swearing in, Nancy Pelosi promised a “new America:”


"A new America that seizes the future and forges 21st Century solutions through discovery, creativity, and innovation, sustaining our economic leadership and ensuring our national security.

"A new America with a vibrant and strengthened middle class for whom college is affordable, health care is accessible, and retirement reliable.”


Yeah, about that.

This week was budget week in Washington, D.C., which means it’s that time of year when the federal government occupies you with a complex system of forms and credits and deductions used to strip you of a couple thousand bucks by April 15, so that they can in turn negotiate the ways in which they’ll be taking millions from you and billions from your children by the same method in decades to come.

Very clever diversionary tactic, really.

When Pelosi said she wanted to “seize” the future, she meant in a hand-cuffed, make-sure-you-have-a-safe-word kind of way. This is, indeed, the time of “discovery” Pelosi envisioned in our nation’s capital. Every day this week, Democrats were devising creative and innovative ways to wheedle that precious pay from your little pocket.

By 2015 in the new Democratic America, even George Strait’s Wranglers won’t be tight enough to keep money in them.

And, how will they do it? In order to understand, you can’t just pay attention. You have to speak the language.

Balance the budget = raise taxes.

Democrats in the House are making much of the fact that their blueprint balances the budget within five years. Some are even boasting a surplus, taking that special kind credit you can only get in Washington for things that haven’t happened yet.

How do they plan to make it happen? Their budget plan assumes the expiration of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Republicans have given it a more appropriate name than “balancing the budget.”

Most are calling it the “biggest tax increase in American history.” Rep. Trent Franks took it a step farther and called it the “biggest tax increase in the history of humanity.”
Closing the tax gap = The IRS is a-knockin’ on your door:

Beyond the $900 billion Democrats plan to swipe by wiping out the Bush tax cuts, they also plan to bring in some serious dough by closing tax loopholes.

That’s right. Despite the fact that tax revenue has gone up since tax rates were cut—a funny fact of economics John F. Kennedy didn’t miss, but his moderd-day colleagues can’t seem to grasp—Democrats plan to send IRS agents after the nickels and dimes we’re keeping from them through nonfiling, and to a greater extent, underreporting. Much of noncompliance can, of course, be attributed to the fact that the tax code is about the size of The Rock’s torso.

Want a taste of what you’re in for under the Dems’ new benign budget fix?

IRS scrutiny is greatest for high-income tax filers and people who put small-business income on their returns. But even average taxpayers saw audit rates edge up last year to levels last seen in the late 1990s.

In addition to stepped-up examinations, momentum is building for new reporting requirements on stock brokerage firms…

To better enforce current laws, tax experts say the IRS could use more auditors...

"Congress would have to add a number of reporting responsibilities" to make a big dent in the tax gap, says Charles Davenport, a professor of tax law at the Rutgers University campus in Newark, N.J.


And, what in the world to do with all this new revenue?

"Our budget is a statement of our values and priorities, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to defend our nation, grow our economy, protect our children and strengthen families, preserve our plant, and ensure that the federal government is accountable and efficient," Hoyer, the majority leader, said before the vote. "This is a budget that we can be proud of."

So, I’m guessing, they’re thinking of paying down the deficit? Or, fixing entitlements, so that health care can be accessible and retirement reliable, as Pelosi desires?

Guess again. The Dems are going to use your cash to increase discretionary non-defense spending by $22.5 billion in FY ‘08! And, they’re going to put off even addressing entitlement reform for another five years, while the problem grows larger than the Kennedy family legal defense fund.

The Democrats passed their brilliant budget fix in the House last week, 216-210, while a similar bill passed the Senate two weeks ago. Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, offered an impressive, responsible budget alternative, which kept the tax cuts and reformed entitlements in order to balance the budget.

Republicans were talking a great fiscally conservative game on the Hill last week, vowing that they were finding their way back to the true roots of the Republican Party and spurning the big-government conservatism of years past. Roy Blunt called his vote for No Child Left Behind one he wished he could take back, and everyone I heard from was bent on cutting discretionary non-defense spending.

If only they’d taken on the mantle they were supposed to be wearing a little bit sooner:

non-defense discretionary spending grew 40 percent (21 percent after inflation) from 2001 through 2006.

Now that the power’s out of their hands, it seems it’s much easier to stand for what’s right.

Or, is it? Forty Republicans voted against Ryan’s substitute budget.    

It is a rare Congress that has what it takes to address the bipartisan spending addiction and actually treat it. By the looks of it, it will be many years before we see another one willing to do it.

Until then, you might want to break out your tightest Wranglers.


Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of HotAir.com, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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