A beneficial budget blueprint
Thanks to the outrageous, profligate spending habits of our
elected officials, every taxpayer reading this is in serious
As Heritage Foundation budget expert Brian Riedl notes in a recent Web Memo, lawmakers
are spending at such a frantic clip that if they don't stop the
madness, within a decade taxes will have to increase by nearly
$7,000 per household just to balance the budget. And that's on top
of the $18,000 per family Congress is already collecting.
According to Riedl, the current spree has expanded government by 45
percent since 2001, and it shows no sign of slowing down. You and I
must live within our means, but Washington politicians act as if
they have absolutely no responsibility to do something as basic as
paying their own way -- to make sure they don't spend more than
they have, confident that somebody else will foot the bill when the
But help may be on the way -- if, that is, lawmakers have the guts
to get serious about changing their ways. A new budget proposal by
offers such a blueprint. Titled
"Contract With America Renewed," it outlines the tough choices
necessary to get spending under control and thus avert the
crippling tax increases we would otherwise face. The RSC proposal
would, for example:
- Balance the budget by fiscal year 2011.
- Reduce the net deficit by $392 billion.
- Promote tax policy designed to encourage economic growth
- Eliminate all pork projects from the recent highway bill. The
money, earmarked for numerous long-term projects, hasn't been spent
yet and still could be rescinded.
- Return the gas tax and the federal highway program to the
states. As Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner writes in his
new book, "," it made sense for the federal
government to build roads in 1956, when the lack of a country-wide
highway system compromised interstate commerce and national
defense. But it doesn't make sense today. As Feulner writes,
"Absent a clear and present national danger, are highways really
- Pare back education spending, which has soared 137 percent
- Eliminate dozens of programs such as the Advanced Technology
Program, a "notorious bit of corporate welfare," Riedl notes.
In addition, the RSC budget includes important budget-process
reforms that would change the bias toward spending that taints
Washington budget-making. One such reform is a line-item veto to
help shrink the federal budget. A serious proposal for a line-item
veto emerged last week. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., is sponsoring the
Legislative Line Item Veto Act, which, he says, would allow the
president to eliminate wasteful spending and special-interest tax
breaks from specific bills.
Lawmakers are never going to stop spending beyond their means (or,
I should say, our means) as long as they're able to stuff every
spending bill with tons of pet projects and other boondoggles. As
Feulner says in "," just as it's irresponsible to spend
what you don't have, it's irresponsible to waste what you do have.
As stewards of the people's money, members of Congress have a duty
to ensure that every penny is used as wisely and carefully as if it
were their own personal funds.
As Steve Forbes recently said in a letter urging citizens read "":
"Our government today is larger than it ever has been in history.
Spending has grown more in the past five years than any time since
Franklin Roosevelt was in the White House. And our leaders in
Washington have created new entitlements for the first time in
decades. Lyndon Johnson would be proud.
"But many of the self-described conservatives who hold the top
posts in Congress and the White House don't even see this as a
problem. It may be big government, they say, but at least it's our
big government. I'm sure you've heard it too, repeated on
television and in the newspapers. The spending spree is abominable,
and making up lame excuses to justify it is just sickening."
Thank the good Lord that the conservatives who compose the
Republican Study Committee understand that the government actually
belongs to the people -- to you and to me, the taxpayers. The
budget they've proposed shows they are determined to return sanity
to budget-making in Washington -- to start spending like mature
adults, not teenagers with their parents' credit cards.
And if they don't? As Feulner writes, "Leaders who refuse to behave
responsibly and meet our demands should be voted out of office and
replaced by elected representatives who will."
Hagelin is a vice president of The Heritage Foundation
and the author of Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a
Culture that's Gone Stark Raving Mad.