In the balancing act going on in Washington right now, for one side the term is layered with meaning, while for the other, its meaning could not be clearer. For President Obama and the Democrats, first and foremost balance means making sure the “wealthiest Americans” ante up and pay their “fair share.” Never mind those in the highest tax brackets are now paying the highest rates that they have paid in over three decades, while middle and lower brackets are paying the lowest.
As for applying the term to budgets, the Democrats take a far more libertine position. Barack Obama recently said, “My goal is not to chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance.”His fellow Democrats in Congress apparently share this view with the House offering a budget that balances around 2040, and the Senate Democrats having put forward a plan that never balances the budget at all.
By way of contrast, Paul Ryan offered a plan that actually balances the budget in ten years and the Republican Study Committee plan does it in four. These plans both focus on creating the proper environment for the robust economic growth needed to put the ten of millions of Americans who still need jobs, back to work. Both rely on the time-tested formula for balancing budgets that has enjoyed bi-partisan support in the past: lower tax rates while eliminating special interest loopholes, and control spending.
In the 1960s, John Kennedy did not let the Democratic Party’s ideology, going back to the heady days of the New Deal, hold him back from proposing tax reforms aimed at getting the economy moving again. In a noteworthy speech to the Economic Club of New York,” the first and only Catholic President said with a grin on his face, “I feel tonight somewhat like I felt when I addressed in 1960 the [very Protestant] Houston Ministers Conference on the separation of church and state. But I am glad to have a chance to talk to you tonight about the advantages of the free enterprise system,” drawing laughter from the crowded room of business leaders.