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    Fate of the Union Address: The Need to Cut Spending

    01/25/2011

    Earlier today, senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett appeared on CBS's "The Early Show."  During her interview, Jarrett said that the Obama administration plans to make "targeted investments" aimed at job creation one of its top priorities.  Later in the day, President Obama used his annual State of the Union Address to layout his vision for such "investments."  Infrastructure, education, health care, transportation, the president insisted on the need to "invest" in numerous parts of the economy.


    But what does "investment" really mean?


    It is difficult to hear the administration that has raised the national debt by a staggering $5 billion per day use the term "investment" and not recognize it as a code word for "more spending and fiscal irresponsibility."  As Jeffrey Anderson notes in a column for the Weekly Standard:



    In light of the President's expected rhetorical nod to fiscal responsibility, it's worth keeping in mind his record on deficits to date. When President Obama took office two years ago, the national debt stood at $10.626 trillion. It now stands at $14.071 trillion — a staggering increase of $3.445 trillion in just 735 days...


    Anderson further underscores that point by highlighting the difference between the current President and his predecessor, George W. Bush:



    ...when President George W. Bush took office, our national debt was $5.768 trillion.  By the time Bush left office, it had nearly doubled, to $10.626 trillion. So Bush's record on deficit spending was not good at all: During his presidency, the national debt rose by an average of $607 billion a year. How does that compare to Obama? During Obama's presidency to date, the national debt has risen by an average of $1.723 trillion a year — or by a jaw-dropping $1.116 trillion more, per year, than it rose even under Bush.


    2 years worth of Obama Administration "investments" have left America with a skyrocketing deficit and an exploding national debt.  Simply put, the Obama investments are investments that we cannot afford.


    Fortunately, the party that helped President Obama pile such massive amounts of debt upon our country is no longer in control of Congress.  The Democrats lost their majority in the House which is now under more fiscally conservative leadership.  In addition, several limited government conservatives joined the Senate this past election cycle.


    Most of these new lawmakers campaigned and won on the platform of smaller, more responsible governance.  Now many of them are working toward that goal.  Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for instance, recently released his "Roadmap for America's Future": 



    A Roadmap for America’s Future is a comprehensive alternative to the heavily government-centered ideology now prevailing in Washington, which pursues a relentless expansion of government, and creates a growing culture of dependency – and in the process worsens a status quo that already threatens to overwhelm the budget and smother the economy. The Roadmap – updated to reflect the dramatic decline in the Nation’s economic and fiscal condition since its previous introduction in 2008 – draws on Americans’ strengths to restore the Nation’s legacy of leaving the next generation better off. It achieves three key objectives:



    • Providing Health and Retirement Security. The plan ensures universal access to health insurance; and it rescues and strengthens Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – allowing them to fulfill their missions and making them permanently solvent.

    • Lifting The Debt Burden. It returns Federal spending growth to sustainable rates, and lifts the huge projected debt burden from the shoulders of future generations.

    • Promoting American Job Creation and Competitiveness. It promotes solid, sustained economic growth and job creation here in America, and puts the United States in a position to lead – not merely survive – in the global marketplace. The plan also modernizes job training programs to meet the effects of globalization.

    In addition to Congressman Ryan's plan to reduce the national debt and deficit by reducing the size and scope of government, House Republicans recently released H.RES. 38.  The bill aims "to reduce spending through a transition to non-security spending at fiscal year 2008 levels."  Newly-elected Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) endorsed the legislation stating:



    I am pleased the House has committed itself to cutting Washington spending.  At a time when the Treasury Secretary is begging Congress to raise the debt limit, a ‘freeze’ is simply inadequate.  Rather than lock in the consequences of Washington Democrats’ job-destroying spending binge, we pledged to cut spending to pre-‘stimulus,’ pre-bailout levels and impose real spending caps.  The American people have rejected the idea that we can spend and borrow our way to prosperity, as have many economists.  The new majority has listened, cut Congress’s budget, and now we’re focused on keeping our pledge to cut spending to pre-‘stimulus,’ pre-bailout levels...


    Although H.RES. 38 is a good start and worthy of support, Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) argued that the legislation does not go far enough.  He stated that, in light of the 89 House members that signed onto a letter to Speaker Boehner calling for $100 billion in FY2011 cuts in the CR, the resolution should have gone further.  Chairman Jordan then filed an amendment in the Congressional Record, which would direct that the FY2011 total discretionary spending level to be set at a minimum of $100 billion lower than the FY2011 Democrat spending plan.  The amendment reads:



    AMENDMENT NO. 1:



    • Strike: "for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 that assumes non-security spending at fiscal year 2008 levels or less.''

    • Add: "that provides a total non-security fiscal year 2011 allocation that is at least $100 billion less than provided for in House Report 111-565.''

    And lawmakers in the House aren't the only ones getting serious about cutting federal spending.  In the face of the exploding national debt, newly elected Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) recently announced a bold plan to lower the deficit.  Senator Paul's plan introduces $500 billion in spending cuts that can be enacted over one year.  Paul commented:



    I am proud to introduce my own solution to the mounting debt our spendthrift, oversized government has accrued. By rolling back to 2008 levels and eliminating the most wasteful programs, we can still keep 85 percent of our government funding in place.  By removing programs that are beyond the constitutional role of the federal government, such as education and housing, we are cutting nearly 40 percent of our projected deficit and removing the big-government bureaucrats who stand in the way of efficiency in our federal government.


    These policy initiatives are just a few of the many note worthy plans that have been offered by conservatives in recent weeks.  Although some solutions are undoubtedly better than others, all of these plans emphasize the dire need for the federal government to cut spending and begin to live within its own means.


    Fiscal sanity is on the rise in Washington and the passage of legislation that reduces federal spending will be a hopeful sign the future economic prosperity of America.