Posted by: Rational Voice | September 29, 2010

Making Excuses on Spending?

I’ve been meaning to post this piece for a quite a while but just haven’t gotten around to it. I read this and it irritated me. The author claims that with the current debate on government spending everyone seems to have forgotten that President Bush and the Republicans that controlled Congress for much of his administration spent a ton, contributing trillions to our national debt. I have a few responses to this.

First off, we haven’t forgotten about that. Even as a teen I was amazed by the deficits his administration and the Congress were running up but at the same time I understood that with two wars that is going to happen. I think a lot of people were shocked at the spending but while it was bad, it wasn’t pushing us over the edge just yet, like it is now. I’m not absolving President Bush or the Republicans of any blame here. They were part of the problem. I disagree with most of the discretionary spending he implemented (ie education, Medicare Part D, etc) but even most of those deficits, while bad, weren’t too much cause for alarm. Sometimes there is a need to run in the red–only for a bit though. We’ve all done it. We have a month where unexpected things happen and we spend more than we take in and put it on our credit cards. Or we make a big purchase that requires us to take out a loan. It happens and it’s alright so long as it’s in reason and you have a way to pay it off. For example, the Left loves to point out that, while being lauded as the model conservative, President Reagan ran up the deficits. This is true but why did he do so? He spend a lot on defense, an investment that was overdue–especially since much of the equipment and technology that it bought is still in use today. I’d hate to see what we’d currently be fighting with had we not spent all that money. Also, he did it to help speed up the collapse of the Soviet Union. They couldn’t keep us with our spending and eventually they collapsed. I’m glad he had those deficits–oh and he had to deal with a Democratic congress, but I’ll elaborate more on why that is a key issue later. Now much of President Bush’s and the Republicans spending was getting out of control by about 2004 when the deficit was $413 billion. However, they corrected their course, bring the deficit down to $163 billion for the fiscal year 2007–the last year, I might add, that Republicans controlled Congress. Spending was on a downward trajectory, but then Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid, and the Democrats took over, which brings me to my second point.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, on the day she became Speaker of the House, said “Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt.” Awesome, great idea. But how’d that actually work out?  While they may have bitched, bitched, and bitched some more about President Bush’s and the Republican’s spending, they pulled out all the stops on spending. It seems like they, including President Obama, think that if Bush and the Republicans could do it, they should be able to as well and then some, leading to multiple years with deficits over a trillion dollars. The Heritage Foundation illustrates how much worse the Democrats have been. The Bush Republicans look fiscally responsible compared to the Democrats. Just because the Republicans ran up spending and the debt doesn’t mean that the Democrats have the right to do the same, especially since they claim that the Republicans spending created the mess we’re currently in. If that is so, how the hell does spending even more help us out of it? If spending put us in it, spending more won’t get us out of it. Liberals keep talking about how President Bush and the Republicans did this and that without paying for any of it. Well, they’re not paying for any of their programs like the Stimulus that failed, teachers’ union bailouts, the small business bill, and healthcare. They just keep adding more and more. If anyone has amnesia it’s the Left who complained and complained but now conveniently forget that they bitched about everything just a few short years ago.

This brings me to another point I’d like to examine and alluded to earlier when talking about President Reagan. People seem to praise or blame the president for the budget deficit or surplus when in reality, according to the Constitution, Congress controls the spending. People love to praise President Clinton for the surpluses he left us with and blame President Bush for the deficits. While they do rightly deserve part of the blame or praise they get, all they do is sign the budget into law. President Clinton ran deficits until–get ready for this–until the Republicans took control of Congress. After they took over, the deficits feel until they eventually turned into a surplus. Here and here are two sites I think you should take a look at. One shows the deficit as a percentage of GDP per fiscal year and the next shows who was in control of Congress. There are times to you to take exception the the deficits because of wars, Great Depression, etc. It’s not often that Republicans have control of both Houses but if you look at the chart on the first one, you’ll see there is a definite correlation between Republican control and either surpluses or a reduction of the deficit. Dr. Thomas Sowell also talks about this very point a bit in this piece from a few weeks ago. Going back to President Reagan, while we’ll never know how things would have went, I’m willing to bet had he had a Republican controlled Congress to work with we would have seen surpluses during much of his administration because of how much he cut back on the size of government. Those cuts, and even more Republican cuts or reforms elsewhere, even with the increase in defense spending, probably still would have led to us breaking even or ending up with a surplus. We’ll never know though but I do think it’s something to think about.

Left or Right, Liberal or Conservative, the bottom line is we need to get our spending under control. We need to stop looking back and playing the blame game while we continue to spend more and more. We are going to go bankrupt like most of Europe soon and even worse if we don’t start looking forward. We may soon fail to give future generations a better standard of living than we had if we don’t fix our mess soon. This is absolutely unacceptable. We are the United States of America. We always make things better for ourselves, our kids, and the world, not worse, which is why we are the beacon of freedom and opportunity in this world.

From SonofLiberty: Clinton’s surpluses were assuming lots of things didn’t happen. For example the CBO assumed the .com bubble wouldn’t burst and no economy stunting 9/11. Bush waged 2 wars and overcame 9/11’s impacts and ran a deficit a fraction of Obama’s. The Dem Congress came in and immediately created worse budgets. Now Obama is making it worse. Many Republicans were critical of Bush’s deficits too. Besides, like Rational Voice said how does that justify Obama’s spending? The impacts are still there. Only now they’re worse and coming sooner.

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