Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Friday, June 03, 2005

A Billion Here, a Billion There

by Senator Larry Craig

Over the past year or two, I’ve heard a number of Democrats in Congress make the claim that they, not the Republican Party, are the party of fiscal responsibility. This has always struck me as a strange thing for congressional Democrats to say. But let’s take a look at the numbers, to see if these claims are true.

Earlier this month, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) released its annual BillTally study for 2003 and 2004, the 108th Congress. The study finds “Senate Democrats advocated an average net annual spending hike of $157.6 billion”. The average House Democrat, not to be outdone, called for $521 billion in increases. In contrast, House and Senate Republicans, on average, called for $35 billion and $33.7 billion in spending increases, respectively.

I know what you’re thinking: Republicans spend less, but they’re still spending too much. I couldn’t agree more, which is why I’ve worked hard as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to hold the line on federal spending.

In fact, when the same group, NTUF, analyzed all the legislation I sponsored or cosponsored in the 108th Congress, they found that all these bills, had they become law, would have resulted in a net reduction in spending of $25 billion. A senator who served well before my time in the Senate was rumored to have said “A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon, you’re talking about real money!”

To nearly all Idahoans, $25 billion is a lot of money. I continue to be appalled by the ho-hum attitude many federal bureaucrats and many here in Congress seem to have about the taxpayers’ money. American families understand that they shouldn’t spend more than they earn. They must live within their means, and so should the federal government.

Economists in business and academics widely agree that persistent federal budget deficits and deficit spending harm the U.S. economy. In a March 16 report, the Heritage Foundation affirms “…the preponderance of research certainly suggests that economic growth will be higher if government spending is lower.”

Certainly, in times of war, deficit spending may be necessary to provide our men and women in uniform with all the training, supplies and equipment they need to be successful. However, times of deficit spending ought to be the exception, not the rule.

After four years of balanced budgets, an economic recession and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, brought back federal deficits. While the economy is growing again, the war on terrorism continues, and budget deficits have returned. And despite all their chest-thumping and self-promotion, congressional Democrats continue to propose ever more spending.

If I owed someone money, it would be irresponsible for me to spend my savings on a new car stereo or a nice television set. I would be obligated to pay off my debts, not find new ways to go further into debt. That is a good deal of what it means to be fiscally responsible.

Some might propose raising taxes to erase budget deficits. However, history has shown that the only thing that is worse for the economy than budget deficits and deficit spending is raising taxes. The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, points out the emptiness of this reasoning: “No one has ever raised taxes and solved the problem, nor will we solve the problem. We don't have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem.”

As long as I remain Idaho’s Senator, I will continue to fight the tendency of the federal government to overspend. Check the facts: numbers don’t lie.

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