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  • The Budget Deal -- and Why We're $17 Trillion in Debt

    PolicyMatters-250x250

    Country singer Aaron Tippin’s old hit song “You’ve Got to Stand for Something (or You’ll Fall For Anything)” could be the new theme song for the Republican leadership in the U.S. House. There’s a reason that 71% of Republicans across America are dissatisfied with Republican leadership in Washington. The big budget deal announced this week breaks important promises congressional leaders have made to each other and the American people to cut spending and taxes. It is essentially a tax-and-spend plan, but is being hailed by the political and media establishment as a reasonable and modest accomplishment because it promises to do better in the future.

    In their defense, Republicans are in a tough spot. They have two bad options. They can continue to capitulate and go along with the always happy to tax and spend liberals, or they can take a stand for the good of the country and watch the Democrats close the government, change the rules, or issue an executive order—and then listen to liberals and the media blame it all on Republicans. It’s a pattern that’s been developing for a long time. The Democrats know the Republicans are afraid to take a stand, so they keep pushing the “compromises” further to the left.

    Many want to return to the “good old days” in Congress when everyone got along, compromised, and worked in a friendly bipartisan way. That’s how America got $17 trillion in debt. You can’t spend, borrow, and waste that much money without bipartisan cooperation.

    When I came to Congress in 1999, senior appropriators (the guys who hand out the money) from both parties ran the place. They used thousands of special project giveaways (earmarks) to Members in both parties to buy votes, pass big spending bills, and achieve bipartisan support for other big government programs. But thanks to a conservative resurgence in 2010, earmarks were banned. That’s made it harder to pass big spending bills and why you have some still hoping to bring back pork barrel politics.

    Make no mistake: Compromise in Washington is used to increase spending, grow the federal government and expand its power. Those defending the status quo deal-making say Americans who are concerned about debt and spending should take half a loaf now and go back for the second half later. Nonsense! This deal is a win for big spenders and leaves conservatives with little more than crumbs.

    The big new budget deal was prompted by political pressure to eliminate spending cuts instituted by the sequestration deal to slow the growth of our massive, destructive, and unsustainable debt. Despite its poor design and unwise cuts to our military, it is the first real commitment by Congress in a long time to slow the growth of government over a 10-year budget window. Don’t be fooled. Sequestration does not cut spending. Instead of federal spending increasing 74 percent over the next 10 years, the sequester would hold spending increases to 69 percent! And some people call that Draconian?

    Let’s take a close look at what’s in the new budget deal:

    • Increases spending immediately for promises to reduce spending in the future (Fool me once…)
    • Cuts Medicare using provider cuts that threaten access to care for seniors (price controls, instead of sensible Medicare reforms)
    • Takes more money from the American people to fuel higher spending in the form of user fees (these are tax increases by another name)
    • Uses gimmicks for savings
    • Funds Obamacare
    • Fails to make a down payment toward the spending and debt crisis

    As Ronald Reagan’s former budget director, David Stockman, said yesterday: “Let’s be clear—it’s a joke and betrayal. It’s the final surrender of the House Republican leadership to Beltway politics and kicking the can and ignoring the budget monster that’s hurtling down the road.”

    This week leaders in both parties will speed the passage of this new bill, which is another new pattern of the Washington establishment: Pass it quickly before the people find out what’s in it. If you ever wondered how America got $17 trillion in debt, now you know.

    Posted in Capitol Hill, Economics, Featured, Front Page [slideshow_deploy]

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