Opinion

Legislative Lowdown: The five trillion dollar man

Photo of Brian Darling
Brian Darling
Senior Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
  • See All Articles
  • Subscribe to RSS
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Bio

      Brian Darling

      Brian Darling is a senior fellow for government studies at The Heritage Foundation. He writes a weekly “Legislative Lowdown” column for The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianHDarling.

President Barack Obama has done something no other president has ever done.

Just as Barry Bonds set the single-season record for home runs, Obama is the debt leader of politics. He has set the single-term record for debt, breaking the $1 trillion mark every year in office. This week, he hit the $5 trillion mark, an all-time record for debt racked up during a single presidential term.

Pat Toomey’s budget

In stark contrast to the tax-and-spending ideas of the Obama administration stand the ideas being advanced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Next week, Toomey is hoping to get a vote on his budget for Fiscal Year 2012. His plan would balance the budget in eight years, reduce publicly held debt to approximately 56% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2022 and lower spending to 18.3% of GDP.

Sen. Paul’s plan balances in five years and would jettison the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy and Housing and Urban Development. Paul has been joined by Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in his effort to cut spending by $4 trillion from Obama-promised levels.

Senate liberals have other plans. This past week, the Senate Budget Committee held a fake mark-up of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad’s (D-N.D.) plan. Members of the committee were presented with a plan and not allowed any votes on the resolution. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has pledged not to allow the Senate to take a vote on a budget resolution this year, so this was merely a dog-and-pony show designed to make it look like liberals have budget ideas.

Sen. Toomey was so outraged by Conrad’s antics that he took to the Senate floor: “I don’t think that anyone really can dispute the notion that the greatest challenge facing our federal government right now is that we’re on a completely unsustainable fiscal path.” He continued: “And yet … the majority party, the party that has asked to be in control of the entire federal government and, in fact, is in control of the Senate, refuses to lay out a vision for where they want to take this country.”

Let’s hope the Senate schedules a vote on Toomey’s budget.

Senate going postal

The Senate has been considering a so-called “21st Century Postal Service Act of 2011,” S. 1789. According to Heritage Action for America, this bill includes a massive a $41 billion bailout. It also does nothing to reform the United States Postal Service (USPS).

The postal service needs to end Saturday delivery and cut some employees that are not a necessary part of the modern-day postal service. I love the people who deliver the mail, and they work for an institution that I hold dear memories of. Yet it needs reform, and this bill does not lock in any significant ones. Maybe it should be sent to the dead-letter office.