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Jon Kyl: Sisyphean Challenge

May 7, 2009

President Obama's first 100 days in office have been expensive. Since his inauguration, the President has signed into law $1.19 trillion in new spending. That’s $11.9 billion of spending for each day he has been in office.
Grow economy, not the government says US Senator Jon Kyl
Grow economy, not the government says US Senator Jon Kyl

And it looks like the next 100 days – and beyond – aren’t going to be any cheaper. The President has charted an unsustainable course: an ever growing federal government, with mounting debt and deficits. If we continue on this track, the economy will likely continue to suffer, and future generations will be burdened by the reckless spending of today.

President Obama has attempted to make his proposed new spending sound more palatable by describing it all as an “investment” that will pay off by saving us money down the road. But most of the new spending is for services and programs whose long-term value continues to be debated.

Nor is there any intention of cutting spending on a future date. The President doesn’t propose one-time expenditures followed by years of reduced spending. Instead, billions in new spending will continue indefinitely – meaning the permanent accruement of power in Washington. Rolling back the federal government’s reach in the coming years could prove a Sisyphean challenge.

The President’s vision for the country will double the debt in five years and triple it in 10. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Office Budget, the President’s tax and spending plans will accumulate $9.2 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years.

In response to concerns about spending, the President recently instructed his cabinet to cut $100 million from his budget in the next 90 days. This is hardly a heavy lift.

For some perspective, consider that a typical Arizona family makes $47,215 per year. If it plans to spend $71,848 in the coming year (the equivalent of the Obama budget), the family would face a shortfall of $24,633. Following the President’s example, the family would cut $2.05 in expenses and put the remaining $24,630.95 on the family credit card.

As spending increases, taxes will too. While President Obama has said he will cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans, his budget would actually raise taxes by $1.4 trillion over 10 years. It would implement a new $646 billion energy tax that will affect every American household – regardless of income – and is estimated to increase energy costs for every family by as much as $3,168 annually. And it’s described as a “down payment,” meaning there’s more to come.

The budget also lets some of the existing tax rates expire, thus raising taxes, and leaving less capital in the economy. It’s important to remember that simply extending current law to keep tax rates where they are is not a new tax cut. Typically, a tax cut means one will pay less in taxes from one year to the next, but the Administration has declared that if you don’t pay more in taxes, you are receiving a tax cut.

It’s more than just the uncharted levels of spending, debt, and taxes. The President’s policies signify a sweeping change of course for the United States economy that will shift the balance of power away from the private sector toward the federal government.

We’ve seen throughout our country’s history that expanding the reach of the federal government has never led to economic growth. Now is the time to work on growing our economy, not the government.

U.S. Senator Jon Kyl is the Assistant Republican Leader and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his website here.

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