The world economy is getting rattled this week by the consequences of excessive government debt. Greece may be cut off from its international creditors, and Puerto Rico announced that it cannot make full payments on its massive debt. In both cases, years of excessive spending are sadly dealing a crushing blow to the living standards of millions average citizens.
Chris Edwards | All Articles
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Chris Edwards is editor of Cato’s www.DownsizingGovernment.org.
Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is readying himself for a White House run. His recent rhetoric on economics shows that he will run to the left of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. After two terms of an unpopular left-wing president, that is surely the last thing the country needs.
A lot of people hate Tax Day. Filling out tax forms is drudgery, and being forced to pay cash to the IRS is painful, especially since the taxes fund so many wasteful activities. Taxes are not the price of a civilized society as liberals claim, but the price of a government cluttered with failed and harmful programs.
President Obama’s tax plan would create “A Simpler, Fairer Tax Code,” according to the official fact sheet. The president’s budget uses “simplify” numerous times in describing the plan, and the president declared in his State of the Union address “let’s simplify the system.”
President Obama’s new tax proposals show that he is not interested in bipartisan tax reform. The plan to be outlined in his State of the Union address is anti-growth, anti-savings, and pro-complexity. Left-wing political consultants might like the plan, but not serious tax reformers. Obama himself has called for simplifying the tax code, but his proposals — including the expansion of tax credits — would make the code more complicated.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the powers delegated to the federal government are “few and defined,” as James Madison noted in Federalist 45, while the powers of the states “will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.”
Congressional websites are a useful resource to gain insights into today’s politics. So let’s take a look at the website of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) to see what we can find out. Maloney was elected just in 2012, but his website reveals that he is a fast learner in the modern ways of Washington.
The Internal Revenue Service scandal over the targeting of conservative groups has highlighted the agency’s power to obstruct our political freedoms. Filing taxes every April also drives home how the government reduces our freedom.
The House Budget Committee chaired by Congressman Raul Ryan released a 204-page report on federal welfare programs Monday. It provides useful discussions of 92 programs that cost taxpayers $799 billion a year.
Media attention on the federal budget usually focuses on contentious issues, such as the debt limit, food stamp cuts, and Republican cave-ins. But let’s look at the big picture: What does the government spend almost $4 trillion of our money on each year?
USA Today reports: “The Port Authority, which operates the bridge at the heart of a New Jersey scandal, says a key appointee of Gov. Chris Christie directed the controversial closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge ... David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, who were appointed to the Port Authority by Christie, have resigned in the wake of the scandal.”
I’ve followed federal budget issues for two decades, and there has been a never-ending stream of scandals regarding wasteful spending. Programs do not work, officials get caught frittering away taxpayer money, and many unscrupulous people are ripping off federal benefits. The Obamacare website disaster and the recent (and huge) disability fraud bust in New York City are just the latest scandals.
Republicans in Congress have put in a dismal fiscal performance in 2013. The party could not come together to defund the disastrous Obamacare law. No progress was made tackling entitlements or eliminating programs. Republicans joined with Democrats to move ahead the wasteful farm bill. And the year began with a large income tax increase.
House and Senate budget negotiators, led by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, have been meeting to find ways to trim spending and solve the federal budget mess. Many pundits are giving them low odds at agreeing to major reforms.
You may remember the scene in Animal House where Kevin Bacon plays a fraternity pledge being hazed. Down on all fours getting paddled, Bacon says, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
Alexander Hamilton won in the end. As Treasury Secretary in the 1790s he championed an array of “internal” taxes to supplement federal revenues from import tariffs. Thomas Jefferson despised Hamilton’s internal taxes as assault on liberty, and when elected in 1800 he made sure that they were abolished.
I was struck by a photo and story in the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun earlier this week. A group of high-powered politicians had assembled at the Port of Baltimore for a ceremony to roll out a federal grant for seaport investment. The group included the vice president of the United States, the two U.S. senators from Maryland, the Secretary of Transportation, and numerous other important political leaders.
Rivers of red ink continue to flow from the federal budget, and we still face an entitlement spending crisis. But you wouldn’t know it from the priorities of the two political parties: President Obama has been busy pushing for more “investment” spending, and the Republicans have been consumed by the administration’s scandals.
Congress is gearing up to pass a major farm bill for the first time since 2008, and this year’s bill threatens to be much larger than the last one.