- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2007


In the last nine months, the Democrats controlling Congress have been hard at work. They passed a budget that would raise our taxes more than ever before in history. They tried to pass legislation to force conservative radio talk-show hosts off the air. They fought to take away the secret ballot in union votes to help their Big Labor allies. They have held endless hearings, hauling just about every administration official they can up to the Hill to testify before their inquisitions. And, of course, they have voted over and over again to force a premature surrender in Iraq. They found time to do all of that, but somehow, they haven’t found time to accomplish the most basic task of Congress: Passing the bills to fund our federal government.

It would be easy to call them hypocrites. After all, one of their attacks on Republicans last year was for exactly the same thing. Remember the “do-nothing” Congress?” You don’t hear House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying that anymore, do you? The Democrats’ second-in-command in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin, calls the passage of spending bills “the most fundamental job Congress is expected to do.” So, why is it that not a single one of the 12 annual bills made it to the president’s desk?

The truth is that there’s more to this failure than meets the eye. It’s not just that the Democrats have been spending all of their time making sure Congress is working for MoveOn.org instead of the American people. In fact, they have been working on the annual appropriation bills. More precisely, they’ve been working on adding as much spending as possible to those bills, until they’re practically groaning under the weight.

The Democrats are arguing that it’s not that much new spending: just a billion here and a billion there. But the president knows that when the Democrats talk about more spending and bigger government, they’re really talking about spending our hard-earned dollars. They’re talking about expanding programs designed for the poor until they become old-style welfare all over again. And who bears the brunt of these massively expanded government handouts? The middle-class taxpayers whose salaries the Democrats are so eager to spend.

That is why President Bush has made it clear: He will not accept billions of dollars in pork-barrel projects. He will not accept the expansion of government programs if the cost isn’t offset elsewhere in the budget. And he will not accept increasing taxes to pay for the Democrats’ reckless extravagance.

Unsurprisingly, raising taxes is exactly the option the Democrats seem to prefer in order to pay for their big-government ideas. Their leaders on the campaign trail have made their prescription for fiscal discipline clear. Sen. Hillary Clinton tries to convince us that her $110 billion health-care plan somehow won’t require any additional government spending — but she also says, ominously, that she’s “going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

Sen. Barack Obama doesn’t appear to be too far behind. When talking about the president’s tax cuts, Mr. Obama says: “People didn’t need them, and they weren’t even asking for them, and that’s why they need to be less, so that we can pay for universal health care and other initiatives.” And former Sen. John Edwards says that repealing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts would only be a “starting place.” Is this the fiscal discipline we can expect from a Democratic president? Hopefully, we’ll never know.

But here’s what we do know for now: the Democrat-led Congress has filled the appropriations bills with new spending, and even so, it still hasn’t managed to get a single one to the president’s desk. The clock is ticking. The end of the fiscal year is upon us. And the president has made it clear that he won’t sign spending bills that include dramatic new spending.

Fiscal discipline means making the hard choices, and the Democrats now face a choice: Should Uncle Sam have to live with less money, or will the American people have to live with higher taxes? Americans do not believe they are undertaxed, and if the Democrats insist on making us pay for their reckless spending, they will have to answer for it next November.

Robert M. Duncan is chairman of the Republican National Committee.

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