Congress Not Getting Message on Fiscal Responsibility

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The Obama Administration might be talking about fiscal responsibility, but such wisdom doesn’t look likely to arrive in Washington this year. On the heels of the massive stimulus package comes the next wave of spending.

On Wednesday, the House will consider a proposed $410 billion spending plan for the rest of fiscal 2009 — and there’s been no attempt to hold down spending:

That package would spend about 8 percent more than the same programs got last year, the second biggest annual increase since 1978 for discretionary spending, programs that the government isn’t required to fund, unlike Social Security and Medicare.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D- Calif. , on Monday defended the coming spending spree, which includes an estimated 9,000 earmarks, or local projects, said to cost about $5 billion . She called the bill “the unfinished business of last year, when the president refused to address the priorities and needs of the American people.”

The stimulus bill was rushed through Congress. Look for this spending bill to go through even faster. The bill has to get passed by March 6th to keep government programs from running out of money. No wonder the Democrats feel unpressured to show some restraint. This thing could be sign, sealed and delivered before most Americans know any of its details.

Granted, Congress is obliged to pass enormous spending bills every year in order to keep the federal government running. But, with the stimulus bill already signed into law, does Congress really need to be increasing other types of spending? Let’s not forget, the more we spend now, the more we have to pay back in the future. In fact:

The CBO projects that the GDP in 2015 and beyond will be as much as 0.2 percent smaller than it would have been without the stimulus package, dragged down by financing all the debt that’s being piled up. In addition, noted the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan fiscal research group, the bill will “have a permanent impact on the deficit through higher interest payments on additional public debt.”

Clearly President Obama is right to be pushing for fiscal responsibility. But he’s going to have to do more than make speeches to get his own party to comply. If his pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term is an earnest one, he should start by demanding Congress decrease the spending proposed in the upcoming bill.