The Budget Debate
Posted on March 24, 2009
The Budget Debate
While the national media is focused on AIG bonuses, the Congress (outside the Banking Committee) is working on the President’s budget.
Most Presidential budgets have a limited shelf life with the Congress. The leaders of Congress have their own ideas about how to spend the money for the next year, with an eye to their own reelections.
But a President’s initial budget usually gets more deference from Congress because Congressional leaders (especially those from the same party) are loath to cross a popular President.
The House is expected to move quickly on the President’s budget. House Democratic leaders want to move quickly because they don’t want their members to get cold feet on what can only be called a radical proposal to reshape the government into a bigger, more muscular, more intrusive behemoth.
Most polls show that most Americans favor a more limited, more efficient and more effective government. They don’t want more government. They want better government.
But that is not what is promised by the Obama budget. Instead, he offers a lot more government intervention in the health care sector, the energy sector, the banking sector and almost every other sector of the economy.
The President’s budget calls for $1.4 trillion in new taxes that will affect every American. There’s a $646 billion national energy tax; tax increases on income and small businesses; new taxes on investors by raising capital gains and dividend rates; a resurrection of the death tax; and a reduction in charitable deductions. Moreover, the Budget relies on misleading assumptions. According to a Congressional Budget Office report released on Friday, the President’s budget is actually $2.3 trillion more costly than the White House initially claimed. In fact, over the next 10 years, the budget will produce an incredible $9.3 trillion in total deficits.
House Democratic leaders don’t want their members to face their constituents armed with the real facts with this budget. So they hurry, hurry, hurry to get it done before the Easter recess.
Senate Democratic leaders have no illusions about the ramifications of the President’s budget , so they have already signaled that it will go through major surgery when they consider it.
The AIG contretemps serves the Democrats well by distracting the people from the bigger fight surrounding the budget. But while it serves as a distraction, it also weakens the people’s faith in the Congress as an institution, which will not help Democrats in the long run.
The best interests of the people will be served if all members of Congress face their constituents before they vote on the President’s budget.