10.01.2008 0

Living to Fight Another Day

  • On: 10/19/2008 23:00:03
  • In: Fiscal Responsibility
  • By Howie Rich

    It’s not often that swimming against the big spending, special interest stream in Washington D.C. produces dividends for the American taxpayer.

    More often than not, taxpayer advocates seeking to inject common sense and fiscal responsibility into the federal budgetary process end up getting stampeded by members of both parties eager to gobble up their share of the special interest spoils.

    No wonder America’s national debt has soared to nearly $10 trillion – including a $3.1 trillion increase over the past six years.

    Since much of this recent explosion in new government spending occurred under Republican rule, Democrats cleverly exploited America’s frustration with this waste and inefficiency by positioning themselves as the “party of less government.”

    For example, in 2005, soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid laid the groundwork for this campaign by unveiling a series of bills designed to limit government growth.

    “Democrats are united to strengthen budgeting rules that require the government to live within its means,” Reid said in sponsoring his spending reforms, which included a “pay-as-you-go” requirement which mandated that “spending and tax legislation be fully paid for.”

    We all know what happened next. Democrats swept to victory in 2006 thanks to independent swing voters who no longer trusted Republicans with their money.

    “The Republican Party was fired in 2006 by the American people because we did not take good care of the taxpayer’s dollar,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said just last week, echoing the assessment of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who decried Republicans for their deficit spending and said that the GOP “swapped power for principles” and “ended up with neither.”

    Thirteen years ago, it was Tom Coburn – then a Representative from Oklahoma – who stood in front of his Republican colleagues and implored them not to abandon the fiscal promises that had ushered in the “Republican Revolution.”

    But Coburn’s warning went unheeded.

    Of course, we know now that the “new boss” is just like the “old boss.”

    The Democrats’ promise to force government to “live within its means” proved to be nothing more than empty election-year rhetoric, as evidenced by the $527 billion hole that Democrats blew in the federal budget last year.

    And this year, in the face of rising gas prices and yet another half-trillion dollar deficit, Senator Reid – who made such a fuss over the importance of “pay-as-you-go” legislation – brazenly attempted to force another multi-billion dollar boondoggle down the taxpayers’ throats in clear violation of this policy.

    Not surprisingly, the man standing directly in the line of fire was once again Tom Coburn.

    Having watched in frustration as Coburn successfully blocked several dozen unnecessary Democratic spending initiatives, Reid decided to combine over three dozen of these bills into a massive omnibus, duplicitously dubbed the “Advancing America’s Priorities Act.”

    With Coburn leading the charge, this giant, budget-busting bill was temporarily stalled this week, failing to get the required sixty votes needed to move forward.

    Of course, this hard-earned victory for millions of American taxpayers struggling to make ends meet in a flailing economy is by no means permanent.

    Reid will be back.

    But the battle successfully waged by Coburn – who has held up over seventy new spending bills during the past two years – nonetheless presents a tremendous opportunity in the broader war for a more fiscally responsible government.

    With our economy sputtering, with interest payments on our national debt eating up half a trillion dollars a year, with Medicare and Social Security both teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and with Democratic leaders clearly going back on their word to hold true to common sense budget practices (just like Republican leaders did before them), the case to be made for long-overdue spending reforms has never been stronger.

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