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Pulling the Plug on the Government Growth Machine

“We will go through our Federal budget, page by page, line by line, eliminating those programs we don’t need.”

If you had to guess who made the above statement, who would it be? Glen Beck in the midst of one of his tearful tirades? Sarah Palin giving a campaign speech when running for vice-president? Steven Cobert in a wacky parody of some Tea Party candidate? President-elect Barack Obama after winning the election in 2008?

Both Beck and Palin would have been good guesses, but the correct answer is now President Barack Obama. While it’s a sure bet every presidential promise is going to fall short in one way or another, none has ever missed the mark in such a glaringly painful way. After two years in office, President Obama has managed to lead our country in the following ways:

  • Added three trillion dollars to the national debt and set an all-time record for a federal budget deficit.
  • Increased the federal payroll by tens of thousands of government employees during the worst recession in decades.
  • Pushed for a health care plan as a deficit reducer which, though barely in place, is already flexing its muscles as a deficit inflator.
  • Allows earmarks to grow at an alarming rate in spite of opposition from all sides.

Mark Twain once said, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” When it comes to the growth of our federal government, politicians fall under the first two categories, but it is the third one that is really bothersome. While both parties spar over who loves America more, we are drowning in those pesky statistics.

Consider this. The federal government spends $3 for every $2 it rakes in. I’m not a gambling man but I am quite sure any casino in the world that could take in $3 for every $2 in paid out would be considered more than successful. Put another way, China is the casino and we are the saps throwing away this week’s rent and milk money hoping to beat the odds. In another decade we will be spending more on debt interest payments than all other government non-defense items combined. In the period between the end of World War II and 2008, the Federal government spent just under 20% of the country’s gross domestic product while taking in revenues equal to about 18% of the GDP. Under the current administration our government is spending a 25% of our GDP while only taking in about 15% in revenue. Run those numbers anyway you like and what comes back is a formula for disaster.

David Walker, U.S. comptroller during the Clinton and Bush administrations, says America’s debt problem is already worse than Spain, Britain, and Ireland and we are about three years away from the total failure of a Greece. And what are we doing to stem the tide? Feeding the monster by expanding the federal government even more! Instead of convening more commissions to spend even more money to offer solutions that only make things worse, perhaps it’s time to call a halt to all but one.

What could best help this country most is for the president to form a Commission on Common Sense. You know, one manned by people with real jobs who understand the hard but undeniable principles of income and expenditure. The small business person that knows if his company doesn’t take in more than it spends, its days are numbered. The single mother who doesn’t need anyone to explain she can’t borrow any more money because she has no way to pay it back. Of course that is assuming a person with common sense chose the people to be on the commission.

The surest way to shrink the deficit is to shrink the government. The time has come to look the statistics in the face and do what has to be done. Now all we need are a few key leaders with the courage to pull the plug on the government growth machine.

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