President Barack Obama will undoubtedly recite a long list of wonderful big-government programs and desirable new spending initiatives during his State of the Union Address January 24, but the dirty little secret Democrats won’t talk about is how to pay for everything.
Interestingly, the date of Obama’s speech also marks 1,000 days that his party has refused to pass a budget—an anniversary that Republicans say they are taking advantage of to pressure Congress to get spending under control.
“I think they are simply unwilling to be clear with the American people just what their agenda costs,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-WI) chairman of the House Budget Committee. Congress last passed a budget April 29, 2009, and since then more than $4 trillion has been added to the national debt.
Obama sent Congress a proposed budget in February of last year, but Republicans said it deliberately dodged the tough choices necessary to confront the threat of runaway federal spending.
And the Democratic Senate overwhelmingly rejected the President’s budget 97-0.
House Republicans passed a budget that was authored by Ryan, but the Democrats in control of the Senate failed to produce their own version and the legislation stalled.
“Unfortunately, Democrats would rather sit on the sidelines and take potshots at a House-passed budget than pass their own spending blueprint or even the President’s budget, which was unanimously defeated by the Senate last year,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“Democrats have completely abdicated their responsibility,” McConnell said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, agrees, pointing out that the nation’s total debt is now larger than the entire economy.
“The Senate Democrats’ failure to lay out a budget—a plan for the nation’s future—is dramatic proof that they are unable and unworthy to lead,” Sessions said.
‘Foolish to have a budget’
Republicans say it’s a ruse, that Democrats have done away with serious budgeting because they don’t want to commit publicly to the kind of tax increases and health-care rationing that would be required to sustain their vision of government.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said it would be “foolish” to have a budget.
“There’s no need to have a Democratic budget in my opinion,” Reid said in a May interview with the Los Angeles Times. “It would be foolish for us to do a budget at this stage.”
The breakdown in the Senate came after Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), chairman of the Budget Committee, failed to get a consensus among panel Democrats last year on any plan that was proposed to the caucus.
“The spending [cuts] were going to be fairly gimmicky, not structural, but the tax increases were going to be real,” Rep. Ryan told HUMAN EVENTS.
When those estimated $2 trillion in tax increases were added to the $1.6 trillion new taxes from ObamaCare and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts in 2013, Ryan said that Democrats realized the public would not support their programs because the true cost would be known and that the price would have to be paid by the middle class.
“There is no way you can simply tax the wealthy to get this kind of money,” Ryan said. “There’s no way you can simply tax the 1% to get this kind of money, so they would have to violate their promise not to raise taxes on middle-income earners. And so, faced with the reality of having to show the country the enormous size of the tax increases required by their plan, they decided just not to budget in the first place and take that rap instead.”
“What is uniquely bad about this particular moment and this particular failure to budget is we are on the brink of a debt crisis,” Ryan said. “It’s one thing to have a lack of leadership in normal times. It’s an entirely different thing to have a lack of leadership in these times. And the lack of leadership on fiscal policy in this time means we are getting that much closer to a European-type debt crisis. And time is of the essence. We are literally running out of road to kick this can down.”
Operating without a budget for 1,000 days with unchecked spending creates tremendous insecurity in the economy about taxes, inflation and interest rates, Ryan said.
‘Enormous layer of uncertainty’
“With no budget to fix the problem in view, it means we have an enormous layer of uncertainty over the economy which fuels the anxiety about a debt crisis,” Ryan said.
“I really honestly and sincerely believe if we were to pass and implement a budget that fixed our debt problem, that addressed the root causes of our debt to preempt a debt crisis, then our economy would start taking off,” Ryan said.
“I believe the reason we have a slow growth climate right now, a stagnant economical environment, is this lack of leadership in the federal government. And if we actually had it—and we’ll have to wait for November 2012 to get it—we can turn this economy around. So our obligation to our constituents is that if we don’t like this direction we are going—which we clearly don’t—is to offer alternatives based on our principles, which are the founding principles, and that’s exactly what our budget does,” Ryan said.
“We feel, given that they’ve decided not to lead, that we should put our ideas out there so we can give the country a legitimate choice of two futures, so that in November the country will have a choice that they can make as to what direction they want the country to go. And so if we simply do that, we are doing our fellow countrymen a service, letting them decide what kind of America they want it to be and we would make the case that the sooner you deal with these issues the more you reclaim these founding principles of freedom and free enterprise and the better off everybody in America is going to be,” Ryan said.
POLITICO reported last week that Senate Democrats who “refused to unveil a budget” last year, “don’t plan to this year either, opening them up to charges of abdicating their responsibilities.”
“But Democrats would rather be tagged with shirking their duties than pushing forward a controversial plan like the House Republicans appear likely to do,” the newspaper reported.