February 14, 2006

Why Budget Critics Are Out In Force.

President Bush's new federal budget has received a much tougher reception than his earlier ones did. Much of the press, and many fiscal conservatives, are hammering it hard.
"Federal spending has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton," notes Brian Riedl, an economist at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative advocacy group in Washington

When the White House released the budget last Monday, Mr. Riedl stayed up until 3 a.m. to get out a 12-page outline of the numbers. He noted that federal spending has increased by 33 percent since 2001, from $1,863 billion to $2,472 billion. And inflation-adjusted federal spending last year neared $22,000 per household, the highest level since World War II.

The press was taking more seriously what Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), told this reporter in 2002 about the 2003 budget: "This administration stretches and spins the truth further than either party in the past 30 years."

A New York Times editorial, for instance, calls the 2007 budget "fiction masquerading as fact." The Boston Globe, carried a column headlined, "The deficit deceit." Even The Wall Street Journal noted, "Bush's Deficit Math Sidesteps Some Big Outlays."

Fiscal conservatism is not a political philosophy, and more a tradition of prudence in government spending and debt. Edmund Burke, in his 'Reflections on the Revolution in France', articulated its principles:

It is to the property of the citizen, and not to the demands of the creditor of the state, that the first and original faith of civil society is pledged. The claim of the citizen is prior in time, paramount in title, superior in equity. The fortunes of individuals, whether possessed by acquisition or by descent or in virtue of a participation in the goods of some community, were no part of the creditor's security, expressed or implied...The public, whether represented by a monarch or by a senate, can pledge nothing but the public estate; and it can have no public estate except in what it derives from a just and proportioned imposition upon the citizens at large.

In other words, a government doesn't have the right to run up large debts and then throw the burden on the taxpayer; the taxpayers' right not to be taxed oppressively takes precedence even over paying back debts a government may have imprudently undertaken.
What’s going on?
American cities still lack the resources to prevent a catastrophic terrorist attack. And Washington sends $110 million in farm subsidies to an Arkansas co-op named Riceland Foods.

Many troops risking their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq lack the necessary equipment to protect themselves, such as body and vehicle armor. And several members of Congress vote themselves farm subsidies as much as 119 times larger than what the typical farmer receives.

Millions of overtaxed Americans live paycheck to paycheck. And Washington doles out these tax dollars to David Rockefeller, Ted Turner, basketball star Scottie Pippen and former Enron CEO Ken Lay.

This year, Washington will spend more on corporate welfare than on homeland security.