With news the U.S. economy contracted by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the White House was quick to blame the Republican Party. Press Secretary Jay Carney proclaimed, “Our economy is facing a major headwinds, and that’s Republicans in Congress.” In one sentence, Carney not only tried to shift blame, but compared the GOP to a natural disaster (remember Obama’s headwinds speech?).
Let’s think about this for a minute.
President Obama mentioned the economy or used the word “economic” a mere three times in his Inaugural Address, and it didn’t go unnoticed. Scant mention of the economy was advantageous for Obama – regardless of what caused the recent contraction, it is painfully clear that economic growth hasn’t been a highlight of Obama’s presidency.
What is striking, though, is just how cavalier President Obama’s attitude has been regarding the economy, the debt, and trillion-dollar deficits he’s run every year.
He was nonchalant about submitting his budget on time; it will be late this year for the fourth time in five years. Failing to budget properly has significant fiscal implications since, without a budget, it is more difficult to reform unsustainable entitlements, restrain spending, and reduce the deficit.
As we well know, bad ideas never die in Washington. Fortunately, some conservatives are making sure good ideas aren’t simply discarded in the waste bin of congressional history.
Last year, we supported an amendment offered by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) to the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill that would have eliminated the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA was established in 1965 as an element of President Johnson’s “Great Society” agenda.
Although many Republicans joined Democrats in defeating the amendment, Rep. Pompeo has not given up. This year, he will introduce legislation intended to eliminate the EDA. Congress must terminate this unnecessary agency that has a highly questionable purpose.
Despite what President Obama and his ilk may have you believe, America has a spending problem. CQ reports (sub. req’d) Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the new chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, is going to use his position to “promote the idea of limiting overall spending to a percentage of the gross domestic product.”
He has already drafted legislation that would limit overall spending to about 19 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2014, gradually declining to about 16.5 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2017. To put that goal in perspective, current federal spending amounts to 23 percent of GDP, a great deal above the historic average of 18 percent of GDP.
Cutting spending isn’t just an idea conservatives are throwing out there because it makes them feel good (remember, acting solely on feelings is a liberal thing). It is absolutely essential if we want our country to thrive and prosper now and in the future. Every dollar spent by the government is a dollar that is confiscated from the private sector economy and (at least right now) from our future.
When Katharine Lee Bates wrote America the Beautiful in 1893, she sang the praises of our purple mountain majesties and fruited plains, but she made no mention of our cliffs, although we do have a sprinkling of them across the country. Little did she know that 119 years later, our whole country would be headed over a cliff, fiscal though it may be. Thankfully, the Heritage Foundation is helping to fulfill her prayer and to mend our nation’s flaws:
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
Heritage experts Alison Acosta Fraser, William W. Beach, and Stuart M. Butler have produced valuable research and proposed suggestions for saving the American Dream during “fiscal cliff” negotiations and beyond. Heritage is putting forth the ideas necessary to reverse the negative Washington trends of fiscal irresponsibility, out of control spending, and excessive taxation, which are all affronts to our liberty and prosperity.
In 1990 George H.W. Bush was president, and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Then, as now, the United States was trying to fix the deficit, and then, as now, Democrats demanded higher taxes as a necessary part of any deal.
Yet, Bush had made a promise at the Republican Convention in 1988 never to raise taxes. Some have suggested that “abandonment” of that “solemn ‘read my lips: no new taxes’ promise” would unleash “a firestorm of attacks from the GOP’s right wing.” And even liberals who are pleased that Bush raised taxes admit that his decision to do so helped lose him his bid at reelection. In 1989, Heritage said that instead of accepting a flawed budget plan, Bush should demand that spending be cut, so as not to “break faith” with the American people.
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. In fact, while Bush advocated less government spending with his words, his decisions did not reflect those sentiments, and federal domestic spending grew more under his watch than under any other four-year period prior.
As New York Times correspondent Jackie Calmes recalls, “it helped cost Mr. Bush re-election after many anti-tax Republicans mutinied.” Raising taxes may not have been the only thing that cost him a second term in office (there was the subsequent recession, third party challenge, etc.), but bending to the will of the political left, and failing to honor his promise not to raise taxes, certainly helped Bush get ousted in the 1992 presidential election.