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Fiscal Responsibility is a Two-Way Street

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“We can only turn the page from recession to recovery if we watch every single taxpayer dollar the way families watch every dollar in their budget.”

Who said this? A fiscal conservative appalled at the unrestrained level of spending coming out of congress? Nope. It was the estimable Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opposing a decrease in the estate tax rate (WSJ editorial here).

The estate tax debate aside, Reid’s comments left me laughing, then crying, then irritated enough to blog about the hypocrisy on display. Apparently, in Reid’s world, “watching every single tax dollar” only applies to those dollars coming in and not at all to those going out. If Reid had shown even a passing interest in restraining some of the profligacy on display in Washington, then maybe he’d have a right to complain about plans to remove revenue. But he’s been happy to guide all manners of spending through the Senate with hardly a flinch.

I know many economists support spending during a recession. And I’m not against well-target deficit spending during this period of economic distress. But many Democrats seem to think the more we spend, the better off we’ll be. It’s as if there’s no concept of the law of diminishing returns. Does Reid really think that by opposing tax decreases he’s being fiscally responsible? As if there’s enough tax revenue in the world to pay for the level of spending underway.

To make this screed complete, let me add that, as much as the cluelessness of politicians like Reid frustrates me, I’m equally irritated by the large percentage of so-called conservatives who’ve decided to turn their opposition into a circus of inanities, offering trumped-up or fabricated reasons to scream and shout rather than offering reasonable counter-proposals to combat the over-spending. I know it’s fashionable to use spiteful hyperbole to oppose a sitting president, but it’s meritless. In serious times, we could use a few less clowns.

Okay. I’m done.