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'Superfailure' On Spending, Taxes

By Howard Rich

It’s called the “United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction,” and it has until Nov. 23 to propose at least $1.5 trillion in deficit trimming measures over the coming ten years. Assuming it reaches an agreement, its recommendations would be given an up-or-down vote by the U.S. Congress no later than Dec. 23.

If this so-called “Supercommittee” doesn’t reach a deal — or if Congress rejects its plan — then $1.2 trillion in automatic, across-the-board cuts would be enacted over the coming decade.

The glaring inadequacy of these measures in light of the deepening fiscal turmoil facing our Republic is staggering — particularly when you consider that government will burn through every penny of these 10-year “savings” in less than a year’s time.

This basic mathematical inequity is yet another compelling indictment of Barack Obama and his allies in Washington — as well as those Republican leaders whose profligate spending helped land us in this mess in the first place. Even more offensive? A new “bipartisan” push to reduce the deficit via economically-indefensible tax increases.

After watching Washington politicians double the size of the federal budget from 2001 to 2011, American taxpayers are now being told that “new revenue” is the only way to bring our soaring deficits under control. Never mind that tax hikes — which were recently embraced by House Speaker John Boehner — would devastate the American economy, similar to the way new taxes in Greece have only exacerbated that nation’s fiscal turmoil.

This shared failure to lead on taxes and spending is not what voters were promised — either by Obama in 2008 or by those ostensibly running against him in 2010.

Shortly after his election three years ago, Obama promised that his Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would “go through our federal budget — page by page, line by line — eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way."

Instead, Obama has presided over nearly $5 trillion in deficit spending — even as his Democratic allies in the U.S. Senate have gone more than 900 days without passing a budget. Meanwhile House Republicans failed to honor their campaign pledge to shave a modest $100 billion from last year’s budget — and have repeatedly failed to summon the political courage necessary to address this looming mountain of obligation.

As a result, America’s debt currently stands at $14.9 trillion — and is projected to grow by another $13 trillion over the next ten years.

Rather than feeding this insanity with new taxes, why not take the first step toward a fiscally-sustainable future by simply applying the brakes on new spending?

“A spending freeze balances the budget by 2017. Red ink disappears by 2019 if spending is allowed to grow 1 percent each year. And the deficit disappears by 2021 if spending is limited to 2 percent annual growth,” explains budget expert Daniel J. Mitchell of the Cato Institute.

Of course such an approach presumes that all of government’s current functions are proper and necessary — which clearly isn’t the case. That’s why in addition to applying the brakes, policymakers must acknowledge that there are literally thousands of line-item expenditures, hundreds of programs and dozens of government agencies that are devoted to non-core functions.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), for example, has identified $1 trillion in immediate cuts — including the long-overdue elimination of the U.S. Department of Education.

Lawmakers should take those savings — while rejecting any “Supercommittee” proposal that seeks to raise a single penny via tax hikes.

The federal budget is bloated enough already. And America’s tax code is anti-competitive enough already. We cannot afford to continue letting politicians of both parties dig our hole even deeper while simultaneously hamstringing our ability to ever climb out of it with new taxes.

Doing so only perpetuates the mindless growth of a government bureaucracy that’s posing increasingly grave dangers to the very freedom and free markets it was established to protect.

The author is chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

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'Superfailure' On Spending, Taxes

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