Fri, 24 Apr 2009 16:01:11 +0000 – By Phil KerpenPolicy Director, Americans for Prosperity
We were in a fiscal hole when President Obama came into office and for 100 days he's been digging it deeper and deeper. The numbers involved are astonishing and power is being concentrated in the hands of Washington insiders to an unprecedented degree. What it adds up to is an unprecedented expansion in the size, scope, and intrusiveness of the federal government and a suffocating burden of debt.
When Obama took office the deficit for 2009 (assuming current projections for receipts and economic activity) amounted to 9.7 percent of the U.S. economy. Obama has already grown that to 11.9 percent with the stimulus and omnibus. The proposals in his new budget will take it to an astonishing 12.9 percent.
The bailouts are just the beginning. Decisions that used to be made by ordinary Americans living their lives, going to work, and spending time with their families will instead be made by big government bureaucrats. People who played by the rules, took care of their families, and paid their taxes are going to pick up the tab for special interests on Wall Street and in Washington.
The tea parties showed that ordinary Americans understand what's happening a lot better than media and political elites would like. Ordinary Americans are called stupid or ignorant when they worry that they'll be forced to pay for trillions of dollars in new spending. Taxes will only be increased on the top 5 percent, President Obama says. But there is simply not enough money there to pay for this unprecedented spending spree. Middle class Americans know that Obama will eventually have to reach into their pockets -- through taxes, inflation, or a combination of both -- for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks: that's where the money is.
The big-government power-grab shows no signs of slowing down. A government health care takeover, a massive energy tax, a federal education power-grab, and sweeping increases in federal power in every area of economic life are staring us in the face.
Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid call this "progress" and call themselves "progressives." But the idea of centralized control, of enlightened bureaucrats or royalty dictating to people how to live their lives is one of the oldest, least progressive ideas in the world. It looks more like 13thcentury feudalism than anything innovative, new, or forward-looking.
The really progressive idea is human freedom, allowing individuals to own the rewards of hard-work and risk-taking when it works and to suffer to consequences of failure and to learn from them. A free society requires a government that sets the basic ground rules, assures contracts are enforced, maintains public safety, and prevents and punishes force and fraud. Forays into central economic planning or regulating people's private lives never turn out well.
The lesson of the 20thcentury should have been that free markets work and central planning is a disaster. Unfortunately, it looks like we may need to learn that lesson one more time the hard way before we'll fully understand it.