Monday, September 04, 2006

Here's a Democrat (and a Republican) I can endorse

Timothy Penny's op-ed in the Washington Times should be required reading for every member of Congress. Penny, a former Democratic congressman from Minnesota, calls out both sides of the aisle. Congress has demonstrated a consistent "tax, spend, then hide the evidence" pattern of misbehavior that is as undemocratic as it is outrageous.

...Our nation's current fiscal policies are creating a mountain of debt that our grandchildren will be forced to repay through higher taxes. The unfunded promises we have made to recipients of Social Security and Medicare and other entitlement programs will almost certainly lead to higher taxes on today's children and those yet to be born. In my view, that amounts to "taxation without representation."

...Part of the problem lies with the current congressional budget process. On Capitol Hill the bulk of time and attention each year is devoted to the annual appropriations bills... [but] ...two-thirds of spending goes to so-called "mandatory" programs: interest on the debt and entitlement programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Though representing the vast majority of dollars spent every year, these "mandatory" spending programs receive little -- if any -- debate... The expenditures are essentially automatic. That is not right.

...More attention must be paid to these mandatory programs because of their long-range costs. Before long, Social Security and Medicare alone will consume virtually all the taxes paid by working Americans. It is not fair to the next generation to saddle them with enormous costs for entitlement programs and leave them no alternative except to reduce spending for other priorities or to pay ever higher taxes.

...Rep. Frank Wolf, Virginia Republican, in sponsoring legislation to create a bipartisan entitlement commission. Mr. Wolf is a member of the appropriations committee, and understands that entitlement spending deserves closer scrutiny than is provided in the current budget process. He realizes that the difficult decisions required -- if entitlement spending is to be brought under control -- can only be achieved through a bipartisan effort. He also believes that all options must be on the table. Finally, and most importantly, he sees that as a matter of morality and fairness to future generations.

...So, during the coming weeks as legislators wrap up their work in Washington and return home to campaign, speak out for your children and grandchildren. If, after hearing from us, our elected officials refuse to endorse Mr. Wolf's reasonable approach, then, like the Boston Tea Party, we should throw them overboard this November...

Washington Times: Taxes and spending

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