One year after massive government spending, spiraling national debt, crushing budget deficits, and an arrogant bid to take over the entire American health care system sent droves of angry voters to town-hall meetings across the country, Democrats have begun to figure out that they may have overreached just a tad after gaining full control over Washington DC. Actually, only some Democrats have realized it, and the Washington Post describes their sudden conversion to fiscal conservatism, even though the very same Democrats approved the spending binge that touched off the anger:
“We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet,” he fumed to a roomful of voters. “In my view, we have nothing to show for it.”
And that was a Democrat, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who voted “yes” on the stimulus, the health-care overhaul, increased education funding and other costly bills Congress approved under his party’s control.
Faced with a potential wipeout in November’s midterm elections, candidates such as Bennet are embracing budget cuts with the enthusiasm of Reagan Republicans.
Paul Hodes, the Democratic Senate candidate in New Hampshire, recently proposed $3 billion in spending cuts that would slice airport, railroad and housing funds. Elected to the House four years ago as an anti-war progressive, Hodes lamented that “for too long, both parties have willfully spent with no regard for our nation’s debt.”
The new push for austerity could prove too little, too late for Democrats, who fear losing their majorities in both chambers of Congress. In dozens of House and Senate races, incumbent Democrats are struggling in polls, leading political analysts to raise the serious prospect of Republican takeovers in the House and even the Senate.
Will anyone buy this sudden conversion? Doubtful. Actions speak louder than words, and for the last four years, these very same Democrats have been spending at a rate that made their Republican predecessors look positively miserly. In just three budget cycles, Democrats added over a trillion dollars in annual spending, hiking federal outlays by 38% while the economy tanked. They spent almost all of this session pursuing yet another entitlement program while existing entitlements began melting down, and only when their own jobs are on the line have they discovered that Americans are most concerned about job creation and unemployment.
They can’t say they weren’t warned, though. The town-hall meetings from last summer were the wake-up call Democrats ignored. This line from My Cousin Vinny sums up the Democratic reaction best: