Congressional One-Trick Ponies

Posted: Sep 04, 2007 8:56 AM
Congressional One-Trick Ponies

President Reagan famously joked that the federal government’s view of the economy can be summed-up like this: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” Just eight months into the year, it’s apparent that this is no longer just a quip. Rather, it has become the Democrats’ blueprint for their new congressional majority — and as Congress returns to Washington, we’ll see their tax-and-spend plans on full display once again.

I’ve often said that Democrats are running Congress just as I’ve expected them to, and nowhere is this clearer than on their approach to fiscal policy. And on taxes especially, Democrats have proven to be one-trick ponies; rather than pursuing real spending reform, they’ve singled-out tax increases as a “silver bullet” solution to any and every problem facing our nation. This not only demonstrates an appalling unwillingness to make tough decisions when it comes to the federal budget, and runaway entitlement spending in particular. It also places working families squarely in the crosshairs, ready to absorb higher — and often altogether new — taxes to pay for an onslaught of new spending in Washington.

For example, what has been the House Democrats’ response to the tragic bridge collapse in Minnesota? Have they pledged a concerted effort to slash costly pork projects from the bloated federal highway budget and redirect funding toward true priorities? No. Instead, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, Minnesota Democrat, merely proposed adding an additional 5 cents to the 18.4 cents per-gallon federal gas tax that working families already pay.

And what’s the House Democrats’ plan for identifying the impact of and finding a suitable response to global warming? Have they looked at innovative approaches based on free-market principles that build our economy and provide a cleaner environment? No. Instead, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, Michigan Democrat, merely proposed a 50-cent increase per-gallon federal gas tax increase and ending the home mortgage tax deduction.

Or how about House Democrats’ proposal for expanding a government-run health care program for low-income children? Did they attempt to forge a bipartisan consensus as Republicans did 10 years ago, when we established the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)? No. Instead, they merely voted to levy an unprecedented new tax on every American who has a private health insurance plan and an incredible 115 percent to 2,200 percent tax increase on tobacco.

Notice a trend? What’s especially remarkable is that these are only the most recent tax hikes proposed by top House Democrats. I haven’t even mentioned the $15 billion in new taxes as part of the Democrats’ energy bill that would raise gas prices on consumers, or the $7.5 billion in new taxes in the Democrats’ farm bill — taxes that would threaten 5.1 million American jobs and choke off millions in investment inside the United States. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the largest tax increase of them all: a massive $392.5 billion tax increase on middle-class families called for in the Democrats’ very first budget under their new majority.

In each and every case, without exception, all of these tax increases lead to one thing and one thing only: more federal spending. But don’t take my word; just look at the House Democrats’ actions. So far this year, they have added $6 billion in new spending to a bill that finished the 2007 appropriations process, passed a budget that exceeded the president’s budget request by some $20 billion, added about $17 billion in additional spending to a troop funding bill, and passed several annual appropriations measures that have drawn veto threats because of excessive spending. And believe me, that’s just the start — Democrats are prepared to tax and spend their way through their entire two-year majority in Congress.

Conversely, the congressional Republican response to every fiscal challenge that arises never has been — and never will be — tax increases. While we’ve had blemishes of our own when it comes to federal spending, none of it matches the audacity and scope of what’s in store under the new Democratic majority. In response, we have presented — and will continue to present — plans that balance the budget without raising taxes, keep federal spending in check and let middle-class families keep more of their own money.

And where the president has drawn a line in the sand by promising to veto appropriations bills with wasteful and unnecessary spending this fall, House Republicans are prepared to stand up, defend it, and sustain his vetoes.

Indeed, where congressional Democrats are content to play the role of one-trick ponies, House Republicans are prepared to step into the breach, rein in out-of-control spending sprees in Washington and shine a brighter spotlight on egregious pork projects. That’s yet another important step toward earning back the majority in Congress, and we’re ready for the fight.

Originally appeared in the Washington Times