President Barack Obama (D) sent up his budget proposal Tuesday, carefully timed to be buried under the news coverage of the New Hampshire primaries. $4 trillion worth of proposals. It’s replete with the Left’s dreams of tax increases—including a one-third tax on oil (at current prices: a $10/barrel tax with oil now going for $30) and an acceleration of the Left’s tax war on successful Americans—and associated spending claptrap (gotta spend those taxes, after all) like more spending on college subsidies such as Pell Grants, incentives for States to expand Medicaid programs, increased subsidies for the Left’s goals, expanding budgets for the Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Labor, and on and on. This Obama Budget expands the current half-trillion dollar deficit, because gotta spend more than tax revenue, too.
Oh, yeah: that oil tax is intended, in part, to subsidize “energy sources of the future.” Read that as increased subsidies for “green” energy sources, subsidies the Left thinks are necessary because “green” energy sources can’t compete in a free market, and that’s just not fair. Along those lines, though, here’s a “subsidy” that would pay off in spades and produce potsful of green energy: drastically reduce regulatory and permitting restrictions, and so the associated costs, on building nuclear power plants. We even have a spent fuel storage facility built and ready to go in Nevada; we just have to get government out of the way of that, too. Fat chance on either one, though, under this administration.
No, what Congress needs to do, what Congress has both the sole authority to do—to pass a budget and then pass the several appropriations bills to give effect to the budget—and the power to do with Republican majorities in both houses, is ignore Obama’s budgeting nonsense. A proper step in that direction is this:
Congressional Republicans last week announced they wouldn’t invite the White House’s budget chief to testify on the administration’s proposals, breaking with longstanding protocol.
Instead, Congress simply should pass a proper budget, and it should take the one passed last fall and pass the appropriations bills that properly reduce tax rates, expand defense spending, and reduce spending everywhere else so as to produce a net surplus within those lowered tax rates. And within those bills, specify that the surplus must go first to paying down the debt.
Keep in mind, too, two things. One is the meaning of the budget passed last fall. Nothing in it prevents Congress from passing the appropriation bills outlined just above. Budget bills set outer bounds of spending; they do not set required minimum levels of spending.
The other is so-called “discretionary spending.” “Discretionary spending” is carefully defined to be spending that Congress is authorized to manage year by year; the definition is designed to exclude spending on things like welfare, Social Security, Medicare; and these exclusions amount to roughly two-thirds of Federal spending. This is a cynically perpetuated fiction. It’s all discretionary spending. It’s all fully within Congress’ spending authority to manage on a year by year basis. Every single dollar of it.
The more dollars left in Americans’ hands through lower tax rates, the less government competes with the private economy for goods and services through spending, the better off Americans will be through the resulting economic activity and rising prosperity. And the faster our nation will be able to pay down—and off—its national debt.