The President and his Democratic allies keep telling Americans that we will need to start sacrificing in order to improve the state of the country. What do they mean by “sacrifice”? Tim Pawlenty knows exactly what Democrats mean, having spent the last eight years fighting to keep government expansion from blowing up the Minnesota budget. Instead of demanding sacrifice from taxpayers, Pawlenty argues in Politico, how about getting some sacrifice from lawmakers instead?
Americans have sacrificed enough; it’s time for government to sacrifice for a change. When Washington Democrats talk about balancing the budget, they speak gravely about painful choices and sacrifice — but what they mean is tax increases. In other words, we sacrifice so they can spend.
Before we ask taxpayers to make “painful choices,” we need to ask the politicians and bureaucrats to make a few first. In Minnesota, we rejected tax increases every year I was governor, and even cut taxes overall, to make our state more competitive. Washington can — and should — do the same.
Actually, before talking about sacrifices, perhaps Congress should come up with a budget to define the problem. Pawlenty rips Democrats for refusing to do one of their basic tasks under the Constitution:
When Obama entered office, he inherited a budget deficit that reflected the toxic combination of recession, bailouts and runaway entitlement programs. But rather than getting the government’s finances under control, Obama and his allies in Congress poured gasoline on the fire with trillion-dollar boondoggles.
To put the recent spending binge in context, consider this: At the end of 2008, just before Obama took office, the federal debt was about 40 percent of our nation’s total economy. Now, according to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, the debt will explode to 62 percent of our economy by the end of this year.
If we consider off-budget liabilities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, underfunded entitlement promises and the budget effects embedded in the Democrats’ new health care bill, the fiscal picture gets even worse.
In a bizarre development, the Democratic-controlled House won’t even pass a budget for the first time in decades. Any family or business knows you can’t live within your means without a budget. Congressional Democrats have now announced they won’t even try.
It’s actually worse than that from a historical perspective. Before Democrats took control of Congress and the budgeting process, the federal budget was $2.77 trillion. In three years, Democrats added over a trillion dollars in annual spending to the budget, an increase of 38% in just three years.
Now, with Americans enraged over the huge deficits and national debt, Democrats want to talk about “sacrifice.” Pawlenty dealt with this same dynamic as governor of Minnesota, where the DFL offered the slogan “Happy to pay for a better Minnesota” during the economic boom, and then suddenly couldn’t find anything to cut during the turndown. When the tax money declined, they wanted more “sacrifice” too, but Pawlenty held the line and demanded reforms in government programs and spending — and got them. It’s worth noting that hardly anyone talks about those “Happy” bumper stickers any longer, except to remind people about the free-spending Democratic policies that got us into this position.
But maybe people would be willing to make sacrifices if it saw Congress and the President doing the same. Instead, Congress continues to pork up its legislation in bids to curry political favor and contributions, while Obama heads off to the golf course every weekend rather than focus on the crises in the Gulf and in the economy. Let Democrats roll back their spending to FY2007, when they took office, and give up their pork, and then we can talk about shared sacrifices. Until that happens, Democratic talk about sacrifices is nothing more than having a teenager run up the credit card and look for Mom and Dad to bail him out.