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Budget Rightgeousness and the Left's Resolution

March 29, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The House of Representatives is slated to vote today on a budget resolution that Republicans claim constitutes “the largest tax increase in U.S. history.”

Budget resolutions are not what one might assume they are. This resolution is not the one used to dish out funds to programs and agencies for the next fiscal year. It is a resolution that takes a macro-perspective of the budget, establishing spending levels for entitlement programs, like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, as well as making clear other budget priorities. This budget resolution will serve as a blueprint for the Appropriations Committee as it begins to work out the details of the budget.

Here is Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, on the resolution:

>“Regrettably, the Democrats’ budget plan amounts to the largest tax hike in American history, and it still doesn’t get to the heart of the problem – the fact that government is spending taxpayer dollars at an unsustainable rate. In fact, this budget proposal piles on a lot more new spending and doesn’t even attempt meaningful entitlement reforms.”

Read the rest of Ryan’s press release for an outline of some of the gimmicks, tax increases, and spending increases that he sees in the Democrats’ plan.

The Republican charge that the budget resolution represents “the largest tax increase in history” comes primarily from the fact that the resolution does not assume that a series of tax cuts, which were engineered by President Bush, will be extended when they expire in 2010.

Stan Collender, on the National Journal’s Budget Battles blog, writes that the claims are all for political posturing and makes a key point about how Bush’s tax cuts relate to this resolution:

>The fact that Republicans were talking about a tax cut that will expire three calendar and two fiscal years from now is the latest sign that the 2008 election campaign is under way. While almost all of the attention has been on the very early start of the presidential campaign, the budget fight is the best indication yet that the fight for control of Congress is actually further along than the one being waged for the White House and that the Democrats and Republicans are already throwing sharp elbows as they maneuver for position.
>The tax issue raised by Republicans this past week has absolutely nothing to do with the FY08 budget. Even if the congressional budget resolution assumed the tax provisions would be extended as the Republicans say they want, that would not mean legislation would be enacted this year to make that happen.

Ryan has proposed an alternative budget resolution that assumes Bush’s tax cuts would be extended, reduces spending, and protects Social Security payments. Because of the Republicans’ minority status, Ryan’s resolution has no real chance of passing. Robert Novak questions whether that fact is the safety net allowing Ryan to propose his budget now:

>Why was no such budget resolution proposed during 12 years that the GOP was in the majority? Would the party’s leadership support the Ryan resolution if it were in control now? That those questions must be asked undermines Republican credibility and explains why Democrats dare return to tax, spend and elect.

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  • Anonymous 03/29/2007 8:08am

    Coming from my liberal perspective, it seems that tax increases will be prevelant in the coming years to make up for the massive debt that the Iraq war has created. It eludes me how anyone can blame democrats for an attempt to rectify these problems created by out of control spending by a republican led government.

  • Anonymous 03/29/2007 6:11pm

    Do you guys just publish political party press releases that land on your desk? Yes, the adults are back in charge and trying to fix the mess left them by fiscally irresponsible Republican governing that managed to grow the public debt from 5.7 trillion dollars when Clinton left office to the $8.8 trillion it is today [Source]. Bush’s tax cuts are set to expire in 2010, and of COURSE the GOP is going to spin it as a “tax hike” or other such rubbish. Also have to love the persistence of Robert “Douschebag of Liberty” Novak calling Democrats the party of “tax and spend”. Believe it or not, things cost money. The government is suppose to provide those things. Things like roads, schools, or homeland security. Therefore, they need money. Since money doesn’t grow on trees, the government usually gets it from the people it represents and from whom it draws its authority. That’s the responsible track. The GOP path over the past 6 years has been “screw that, we’re borrowing money from China and cutting taxes primarily for the rich!” Awesome. Great plan!

    Of course, you can have a legitimate argument about whether or not the government should be providing Thing A or E or whatever; you can also argue over whether and how much the government should redistribute societal wealth. Liberals tend to answer yes and some, while conservatives tend to answer no and only if we have to. Paul Ryan, clearly, believes that the government shouldn’t be providing a host of social safety net programs and shouldn’t redistribute wealth. The Democratic Party disagrees with him. So no, his proposal won’t have the chance of a glacier fifty years from now.

    To (sort of) defend the GOP for not more drastically cutting the budget along with taxes during their stay in power, there is a reason besides “they were too busy giving no-bid contracts to Haliburton”. Namely, the public wants lower taxes but at the same time opposes cuts to almost every area in government. They could have cut them much more than they did, sure, but they would have been kicked out of power much earlier than they were.

  • Anonymous 03/29/2007 7:10pm

    I’m with the other commenters on this one… If the Republicans created the biggest deficit in history, the natural way to fix such a problem would be to raise taxes. If they want someone to point the finger at, they should point it at themselves.

    They’re like a person who’s run all of their credit cards up to the limit and are now complaining that they actually have to pay for what they bought.

    “I’d just like to point out a simple fact that everyone else seems to have missed: One has only to point a finger at the preceding generation to find exactly who is to blame for “kids these days.”

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