It’s Not a Budgetary Problem; It’s a Big Government Problem

Thursday, May 24th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Taxes

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Every once and a while, I find a need to invoke an all-important rule concerning the debate over our national debt.  Yes, it is important that we point to the lack of a balanced budget and the trillions in debt.  However, we must not focus exclusively on balanced budgets; we need to focus more on closing down government department, agencies, and programs.  Perforce, the budget will balance on its own once we restore government back to its core constitutional functions.

The problem when we focus too much on the parlance of budgets and debt is that it opens the door for Democrats to say something like this: “OK, you want a balanced budget?  Well, there are two sides of the ledger; revenue and expenditures.  We need to raise revenue to achieve a balanced budget.”

As we all understand, the federal government is not like a personal or corporate budget.  In the case of the latter, increasing revenue is a good thing.  In the case of the federal government, increasing revenue means more money is confiscated from the individual to fund programs that are unconstitutional.  However, as we’ve seen on numerous occasions over the past few years, once Republicans begin focusing exclusively on “balancing the budget,” they feel the need to agree with Democrats about some possibility of raising taxes.

The latest example comes from the following remarks made by Congressman Allen West: (via Politico)

“[O]nce we get to a point where we have right-sized the federal government, where we have eliminated a lot of that waste, fraud, and abuse, then it certainly comes to the American people to talk about raising taxes as a means to make sure we keep our debt and our deficit at a manageable level,” West said.

But right now isn’t the time to raise taxes, West added.

“When you have a debt at 102 percent, I’m not going to come to you and ask you to raise your taxes. I’m going to our work, look at where we can cut back, to get ourselves back…responsibly.”

Now, I don’t really think that Allen West plans to vote for tax increases. But it’s disturbing that too many Republicans are getting ensnared in the language of budgets and debt.  Unless we are in a major world war, there is never a time when we would have to raise taxes in order to maintain a truly “right-sized the federal government.”

Moreover, it is also disconcerting to hear so many Republicans talk about “waste, fraud, and abuse” in the context of limiting government.  I don’t mean to parse words, but usually when one uses those terms in the realm of public policy, they are referring to making welfare and entitlement programs more efficient.  “Waste, fraud, and abuse” is often a cop out for voicing support for more transformational change that will chart a course towards elimination of programs and agencies.  Again, I do not doubt Congressman West’s commitment to entitlement reform, but we must ensure that our members are not tripped up by the deceptive language used by the left.

Let’s continue to focus on downsizing government. Period.  If we would truly wean dependency, enact free market healthcare reforms, allow for personal retirement accounts, and eliminate scores of discretionary departments and agencies, the budget would balance on its own – without ever raising taxes.

Politics is the art of words and language.  We must choose them carefully.