Fiscal Responsibility in the Age of Obama

by Michael Smith.

Talk of another stimulus package prompted me to go back to the early months of the Obama administration, when the new president was riding the crest of the Bush stimulus and promising more triumphs to come. This is from the Cincinnati Enquirer, March 17, 2009:

It’s happened. My uneasiness about the government rescue of the economy has progressed to full-blown ASD—acquired stimuloskeptic disorder.

When Washington announced that the country had borrowed and spent its way into a ditch and would now borrow and spend its way out, I had qualms. Having not seen that strategy work for even one American, I doubted it could work for 300 million.

We’ll jump-start the economy with deficit spending, said our new leadership. So how did our old leadership spend record amounts yet kill the battery? Did Bush-era budgets miss the all-important “stimulative” items?

As easily and often as this Congress has found them, it seemed unlikely. But I tried to keep an open mind.

Then President Obama told Congress he would shower money on banks, automakers, homeowners, college students and anyone else with a problem—while simultaneously cutting taxes for all but the greediest 5% of the population. And after dropping hundreds of billions on education, energy and healthcare, he’ll slash the budget deficit to a pittance.

That’s when my ASD came roaring out of its latent phase. Apparently, the trigger was an allergy to whoppers (not the kind on a bun).

As the Wall Street Journal noted last week, Americans whose earnings rank in the top 5% could surrender every dime of  their taxable income and not come close to covering Obama’s spending proposals. Anyone who believes the middle class won’t pay for our shift to a European-style economy is ignoring simple arithmetic.

In the eyes of the stimulationists, of course, arithmetic is handy for a family budget but irrelevant to a federal budget, which is a totally different animal. One difference is indisputable: families can’t run up enormous debt and charge it to the children. Governments can and do.

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