The Difference Between Lightning And A Lightning Bug

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The president recently hailed a “new era of fiscal responsibility” and said that “the best way to bring our deficit down in the long run is ... with a budget that leads to broad economic growth by moving from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest.”

That’s true, but the Democrats’ budget recently approved by the Senate doesn’t deliver.

It borrows and spends more than any previous budget, its new taxes will affect every American family, and its deficits will burden our children and grandchildren for years to come. In these tough economic times, families and small businesses are making sacrifices and trade-offs in their own budgets. This new budget makes clear that the president and his Democratic colleagues have no intention of doing the same.

This $3.9 trillion budget makes no hard choices about how to rein in out-of-control government spending. It also marks a nearly 20 percent growth in non-defense spending since the end of 2008.

Moreover, much of this new spending, contrary to the claims of the president, is not what a well-run business or the Internal Revenue Service would count as an “investment” (like equipment or other tangible assets). Most of the new spending would be for services whose long-term value is difficult to measure.

The president has said he will cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans, but his budget would raise taxes by $1.4 trillion over 10 years. It not only lets some of the existing tax rates expire — thus raising taxes — but implements a new $646 billion energy tax that is estimated to increase energy costs for every family by $3,168 annually. And it’s described as a “down payment,” meaning there’s more to come.

It is also important to understand that extending expiring income-tax relief for individuals is not a new tax cut. When an Arizona family thinks of a tax cut, it assumes it will pay less in taxes from one year to the next. The administration has declared that if you don’t pay more in taxes, you are receiving a tax cut. This difference, to borrow a phrase from Mark Twain, is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Finally, this budget will place a staggering burden on future generations. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects a $1.7 trillion deficit in 2009, a trillion dollars greater than last year’s deficit. In five years this budget will double the public debt, and in 10 years it will triple it. Simply put, there will be more debt under this one budget than in the entire history of America from 1789 to 2008.

This excessive borrowing also increases our dependence on creditors in countries such as China and Japan. These two countries now hold more than one-third of our foreign debt. When other countries hold a large amount of our debt, they have leverage to influence our currency, trade, and potentially, our national security policies.

President Obama’s budget grows the government, not the economy. The new programs and policies it would establish also mean the government will have much more control over our health care, education, energy, and other aspects of our everyday lives. The increased debt burden that will result from the plan will substantially affect our quality of life long after this recession is over. Bottom line: it spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much. It’s a bad deal.

U.S. Senator Jon Kyl is the Assistant Republican Leader and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his website at www.kyl.senate.gov.

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