Congress and Assembly can’t think it’s real money!
They can’t think it is real money. That’s the only conclusion to be reached when one considers the vote last week in Congress, and the continuing debates in the Connecticut General Assembly. Congress, last week, passed a two-year spending bill that puts the nation another $1 trillion – that’s with a “T” – into debt. Meanwhile, the General Assembly will consider another budget and more and more taxes in order to fund programs and services that they refuse to pare down.
The national debt is now topping $20 trillion and will continue to grow. The current estimates show that every man, woman, and child in the nation are on the hook for more than $63,000. While the nation is marking revenues from taxes at the highest levels they’ve ever been, the intake accounts for only two-thirds of total spending.
This most recent spate of profligacy comes when the nation’s defenses are at their worst since before World War II. Half the ships in the US Navy are in disrepair, while our Air Force has hundreds of planes out of service because of lack of spare parts. This comes after eight years of Progressive governance, which sought to make citizens more dependent on government, pushing spending on the domestic side of the ledger.
A boost in military spending has been needed for years, and with the new administration that’s a plus. However, a much needed cut in entitlements and overlapping domestic programs that have bloated the bureaucracy while duplicating services has been kicked down the road.
Indeed the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress show that all the talk of fiscal responsibility and restraint are just talking points to woo conservative voters. When it comes to actually doing the hard business of curbing government spending, the GOP leadership, especially in the Senate, is loath to attempt it.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader in the Senate, is a perfect example of an entrenched member of the ruling class who uses conservative rhetoric to win elections, but refuses to follow thorough. Meanwhile, the lives of future generations of Americans will be harmed, and their standard of living curtailed, when the bills come due for all the borrowing.
In ten years we have doubled the national debt and show no stomach for doing the real work of leadership and statesmanship. The only reasonable conclusion is our political leaders don’t consider it real money or debt a real danger. They will and so will our nation.
Meanwhile in our state, the General Assembly takes up a new round of budget-making with the outgoing governor proposing more taxes. Connecticut is bleeding residents to other states. The pool of earners and taxpayers is not-so-slowly being swallowed up by those who receive benefits.
Current plans call for tax exemptions to be eliminated and new taxes – such as tolls – being imposed. Tolls have become the new darling of the tax-and-spend set. One plan is to set up electronic tolls at the various entrances of the state such as are found in New York. Bills would then be sent to those using the highways.
Our problem with the plan is similar to our objection to all these revenue producers. Once imposed they never go away and they are constantly increased. Right now, there are few purchases and fewer activities where the State of Connecticut does not get a share. One cannot buy a cup of coffee without getting taxed.
Once again, trimming government, paring down the bureaucracy and eliminating benefits that were given in belle weather years are eschewed for newer and broader taxes. And here, just as is Congress, most programs instituted are less to help individuals than to create constituencies that ensconce political parties and politicians.
The state, like the federal government, has billions of dollars in unfunded mandates in the form of pensions and the like that can never be paid and will push the state into bankruptcy. But, like the profligate spenders in Congress, political leaders in our state blithely go on, imposing new taxes and failing to do the hard work of governing.
There will be a reckoning, and it will be the worst financial disaster in history.