Okay, it’s official. According to the Treasury Department, the U.S. debt jumped to $16.1 trillion in 2012 from $14.8 trillion in 2011. That’s a $1.3 trillion deficit for the last year. Remarkable. During President Obama’s first term, the federal debt rose by roughly $6 trillion.
Now, if they are bold, House Republicans will take advantage of these dismal numbers. Bold means bold spending cuts, as in cut spending like there’s no tomorrow. Bold means implementing the $1.2 trillion spending sequester. Bold means an absolute rock-solid commitment to spending cuts. A new Rasmussen survey shows that 62 percent of Americans favor across-the-board spending cuts. That includes every program of the federal government, according to the survey.
So Republicans can persuade the public about bold spending cuts. They can make it their key message and central marketing strategy. If they don’t, they risk losing the House in 2014.
Voters are smart. Another Rasmussen poll shows that 68 percent of Americans say cutting government spending is the solution to our economic problems. Support for cutting government spending has generally remained in the high 60s to low 70s over the past couple of years. Voters realize full well that a private, free-enterprise economy where people hold on to more of their hard-earned money while the government share of the economy shrinks is pro-growth. Limited government is a tax cut.
Unlike the recent fiscal-cliff tax-hike deal, we need to let successful earners, investors, and risk-takers keep more of what they earn as an incentive to remain the activists who drive the economy. Of course, Obama wants another $1 trillion in taxes. But Republicans must just say no. (While they’re at it, the GOP should cut tax rates for large and small businesses to 25 percent.)
As an extension to this hard-line spending message, the GOP must make it clear that spending cuts equal economic growth. Think Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and James Buchanan — all Nobel Prize winners who argued that less spending means more growth.
And the GOP should stop paying people not to work as part of their spending-cut campaign. With unemployment falling modestly in the last couple of years, food stamps have exploded by 7.2 million recipients. That’s 10,000 per day, according to Ohio University professor Richard Vedder, even in an expanding economy. Social Security disability payments also have exploded. So have long-term, extended-unemployment benefits.
It’s this simple: If you pay people not to work, they won’t work. And if they won’t work, the economy won’t grow.
This is part of the spending-cut message. The GOP has to repeat this message again and again.