- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009


When President Obama delivered his record-breaking $3.6 trillion budget to Congress, it was Page One news and led all the TV broadcasts - with little or no critical analysis.

But when the Republicans brought forth their alternative budget, it was relegated to the back pages and received only a cursory mention on the nightly news shows, usually accompanied by a Democratic talking head who dismissed the GOP plan as coldhearted and a penny-pinching approach that turned its back on people in need during these hard economic times.

Actually, the House Republican plan does a number of things to grow the economy that the Democrats do not, like provide tax incentives for business investment, economic growth and job creation; borrow a lot less than the Democrats would and create less debt; and not raise taxes, when to do so would be job-killer in a recession.

In short, House Republicans took up Mr. Obama's challenge to offer their own budget, and it turns out to be pretty good. It deserves a lot more attention than it got from the news media, says Brian M. Riedl, chief budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation. Among its provisions:

• It borrows $3.6 trillion less than Mr. Obama's budget. That works out to $23,000 less debt per household.

• It keeps total federal spending slightly above 20 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), roughly the same rate of spending we had before the recession.

• It contains no tax increases and would shorten and simplify the federal tax code.

• It places a moratorium on wasteful earmarks and tackles needed Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid reforms.

Mr. Obama's budget and the barely trimmed-down version the House and Senate Democrats taped together would slap more than $9 trillion in new debt on our children and grandchildren. “This is more debt than has been accumulated by all previous presidents in American history from George Washington to George W. Bush - combined,” Mr. Riedl says.

The Republicans would freeze nondefense, nonveterans discretionary spending for five years at present levels, and stop the stimulus spending planned in 2010 and beyond when the economy is expected to be in recovery.

Unlike Mr. Obama's budget and the Democrats' proposals, the GOP plan would raise no one's taxes. Instead, it would make the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, along with the alternative minimum tax reduction. But it would give beleaguered taxpayers a further tax break by giving anyone a choice between a 10 percent marginal tax rate for those making less than $100,000, and a 25 percent rate for those making more than $100,000.

And they would offer needed pro-growth incentives that include cutting the 35 percent corporate tax rate to 25 percent and suspending the capital-gains taxes through the end of 2010 to spur capital investment.

“Even with all those benefits, the House Republican budget proposal would bring in revenues averaging just below 18 percent of GDP, which is near the historical average,” Mr. Riedl says.

The Obama budget and the versions hatched by Democrats on Capitol Hill would push federal spending as a share of GDP from 23.6 percent in 2011 to 24.5 percent in 2019 - “significantly above the past 40-year average of 20.7 percent,” says Americans for Tax Reform.

The Democrats respond to all of this by saying it is just a repeat of the policies offered by former President George W. Bush.

In fact, as Mr. Riedl points out, the Obama and Democratic budgets would “actually accelerate” Mr. Bush's fiscal policies, producing “more runaway spending, more bailouts and even bigger deficits. The president is not repudiating Bushism - he's doubling down on it.”

Is he ever. Increasing government spending by $1 trillion during the next 10 years; raising taxes on millions of Americans and businesses by $1.4 trillion during the next decade; and doubling the publicly held federal debt to more than $15 trillion.

In a few days, millions of taxpayers will send hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. Treasury to pay for the costs of Mr. Obama's voraciously growing government - in many cases, this is money Americans desperately need to make ends meet.

This is not a time - now or next year - to take more money out of a recessionary, cash-strapped economy with an unemployment rate that is fast approaching 10 percent.

This is a time when the government's policy should be to let the businesses and their workers keep more of what they earn. Mr. Obama's minuscule $7 a week for most workers provides little if any real relief.

Taking less money out of an anemic economy is a message that still resonates with taxpayers, who are beginning to doubt that the Democrats' dubious, snake-oil, tax-and-spend remedies will strengthen the economy.

It didn't make sense when Franklin D. Roosevelt did it in the 1930s, and it doesn't make any sense now.

Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent of The Washington Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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