http://racerealty.com/

Bush needs to keep a thumb on Congress

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2001

Even before Democrats took back control of the Senate, realists knew it was going to be an uphill struggle to impose restraint during the appropriations process. Many Republicans, after all, are every bit as partial to pork as Democrats. But the process now appears to be spinning out of control.

The following editorial appeared in Wednesday's Chicago Tribune:

Exactly 34 days have passed since President George W. Bush signed that tax cut into law and it is already clear a major tenet supporting it is being blown to smithereens. That would be the president's pledge to ride herd on government spending.

The president argued persuasively in support of that $1.35 trillion tax cut that surplus tax dollars left in the same room with Congress would rapidly be spent. No kidding. Spending is what Congress does best. Congress has spent well above the rate of inflation on those areas where it has leeway to decide in each of the last several years - and at an accelerating rate matched by what were then ever-rising budget surpluses.

Fine. That's no surprise. But President Bush insisted the nation could afford his tax cut because he would enforce discipline on spending. He would hold Congress to no more than a 4 percent overall increase in spending this coming year - which again is well above the rate of inflation.

Now, White House budget director Mitch Daniels is acknowledging that spending bills stuffed with pet projects and other bits of congressional pork may not provoke a presidential veto. "It may not be good government," Daniels is quoted as saying, but "within the totals we've agreed on, it's an acceptable cost of doing business."

But here's the problem with opening the door to a little more excess on Capitol Hill. Moderation has never been the strong suit for members of Congress. It's like being a little bit pregnant. You either say "no" - or you say "yes" and live with the consequences.

Bush made his 10-year tax cut a centerpiece of his presidency. He pushed it aggressively. He convinced the nation and a majority in Congress that this was a good thing. He won. In so doing, though, he has created a big problem for his administration. There will be less money available to pay off federal debt. There will be even less available if Congress goes mad with spending.

Now the pressure is on Bush - and it was put there by Bush.

Even before Democrats took back control of the Senate, realists knew it was going to be an uphill struggle to impose restraint during the appropriations process. Many Republicans, after all, are every bit as partial to pork as Democrats. But the process now appears to be spinning out of control.

The slowing economy likely will pare projected budget surpluses in the near term as corporate and individual tax receipts grow more slowly than the recent record-setting pace. This need not lead to the reappearance of red ink. There is still plenty of money, although the Democrats are gleefully predicting a return to the "deficit ditch" as they make their case that the tax cut was too big - and needs to be trimmed back.

Well, yes, that is one way to look at it. The other way to look at it, of course, is to say you all should spend less. That's what President Bush should be saying - over and over again. And he should be prepared to back up tough words with tough action - the use of the presidential veto.

Bush can keep spending under control. He said he would.



CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-523-2295
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-3028
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2270
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING