I thought Republicans were the party of fiscal restraint, personal responsibility, and ANTI-big government. This federal deficit is the largest in U.S. history and don‘t give me the pat excuse that our overspending is an anomaly - the result of being at war.
True, we are spending hundreds of billions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, the fight against terrorism will last for decades. If we can‘t stop federal spending from spiraling out of control while we are nation-building, how many trillions will the deficit increase if we are forced to engage in a conventional battle against a foe who will actually fight back with comparable weapons (i.e. North Korea)?
The accelerating deficits are an outrage - a growing menace to our country‘s stability and moral fiber. Economist Milton Friedman was correct when he boiled down his philosophy of government into “there is no such thing as a free lunch.“ When we spend money we don‘t have - trillions of dollars that our children and grandchildren will need to pay off - the chickens always come home to roost.
The widely-respected Brookings Institute has come out with a report named “Restoring Fiscal Sanity: Balancing the Budget.“ The list of how spending overages kill our economy in this report is jarring. Deficits increase household borrowing costs, increase indebtedness to foreigners, require a larger and larger proportion of revenues to be used to pay debt interest, impose enormous burdens on future generations, and most of all - slow economic growth. The Brookings Institute report also points out that the value of the dollar is at an all-time low when compared to currencies such as the Euro and many experts believe this is largely due to global concerns about the U.S. federal deficit.
In his State of the Union address, the President pledged to reduce the deficit by 50% in five years. Yeah, right. Some experts believe the projected $500 billion shortfall for next year is an optimistic estimate of excess spending - it could run closer to $700 billion after the dust settles. Obviously, we might as well get over any idea of reducing the deficit in the near future.
Even fiscal conservatives, who normally support Republican policies, are disturbed by this latest trend. Wall Street Journal editorials and the Heritage Foundation have both called for a higher priority to be placed on deficit reduction. Recently, dozens of Republican Congressmen met to formulate a strategy to attack the deficit.
The annual spending under George W. Bush has mushroomed far beyond any budget during Clinton‘s presidency. A major reason: politics. For example, under an onslaught of criticism from liberals for not providing enough protective body armor and benefits for all military personnel, the Bush administration recently signed legislation totaling $413 billion in increased defense spending.
If you believe John Kerry‘s attacks on Bush for miserly spending on troops at the Democratic Convention might have contributed to pushing this legislation through, you would be correct. Kerry says he would eliminate most of the recent tax cuts aimed at wealthy taxpayers, in part, to eliminate the deficit. The problem is that independent analysis shows reversing these tax cuts will only reduce the federal deficit by about $100 billion - not nearly enough to make a significant dent into the problem.
No one in Congress, the President, or any presidential candidate has the backbone to make the sacrifices necessary to eliminate the federal deficit and balance the budget. The only practical solution: we need a constitutional amendment to balance the budget every year.