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$1,700,000,000,000

National | Clinton budget plan shows that, for Capitol Hill big spenders, it is more blessed to take and deceive

Issue: "Passing of a peacemaker," Feb. 20, 1999

The era of big government lives in the body of President Clinton's proposed fiscal 2000 budget. Should anyone be surprised that the man who can't tell the truth about "private affairs" would also lie about public ones? With record surpluses and near-record levels of taxation (exceeded only, and then not by much, during World War II), President Clinton has built an economic Berlin Wall between the federal government and the taxpayers. He will take increasing amounts of money from working Americans, but once our money is on the government's side of the wall, every taxpayer must abandon hope of ever seeing any of it returned to them in the form of tax cuts. For liberal Democrats, it is always more blessed to take and then deceive. No surplus is ever enough to outpace their insatiable appetite to spend. Tax revenues will total nearly $1.9 trillion in 2000, which is 20.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). They'll total $22 trillion over the next decade. The president has $1.7 trillion in his 2000 budget. This includes about $235 billion in new spending, most of it discretionary, over the next five years. Notes Scott Hodge of Citizens for a Sound Economy, surpluses will equal $27,000 for every taxpaying household in America over the next 10 years. Do liberal Democrats want us to believe they are unable to refund any of our money? From Social Security to the military, this president's budget multiplies the ideology of the New Deal. Call it the Raw Deal for taxpayers who are overdue for a break. The president's proposal to earmark 62 percent of the budget surplus to "save" Social Security ensures that the system will continue to rely on debt and IOUs rather than savings and personal investment. When a savings-and-investment retirement system has been tried in other nations, the results have been spectacular. Rather than fix Social Security, the president asks us to merely prolong the day of reckoning until 2013, when it will be broke again. Under the president's proposal, future retirees would get back far less than they paid into the system. If they were allowed to have private accounts, they would earn far more and ease the government's burden. The federal government, under the Clinton plan, would gain unprecedented control over the capital markets, using "political correctness" in deciding which companies to invest in and which to avoid. The next generation of workers would be forced to pay higher taxes to reduce the huge mountain of IOUs. And today's exorbitantly high tax rate of 20.5 percent of GDP would be frozen for the next 15 years. Republicans pledge to oppose most of the budget proposals and push for at least partial private investment retirement accounts. They've been rolled before, especially with government shutdowns. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tells me the GOP will avoid a shutdown this time by considering appropriations individually and dealing with them long before this year's budget expires. There is a suspicion that Republicans are no better than Democrats when tax push comes to pork shove. As the Cato Institute notes in its new Handbook for Congress: "The years since the 1994 election have been a great disappointment for those people who thought the election heralded a rebirth of limited government. Since that election the federal budget has grown and the scope of federal power has expanded. The 105th Congress alone passed the largest highway-pork bill ever, revived flagging federal support for arts programs, brought farm subsidies back to life, widened federal involvement in local schools, gave another $18 billion to the International Monetary Fund and loaded everything but the kitchen sink into a 4,000-page budget bill." This time Republicans had better start tearing down the wall of big government, or they'll be forced to answer in the next election for behaving like Democrats.
-© 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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