Policies that Work
Policies that Work
March 5, 2014
As we begin the annual budget process, we need to stop thinking in terms of Democratic and Republican policies and start thinking in terms of what policies have worked and what policies have not. The successes and failures of both parties could teach us much.
We are now in the sixth year of policies that promised to restore prosperity to America by radically increasing government spending and government intervention in our economy. These years have not been happy ones for our country.
When people say this is the worst economy since the depression, I remember a time much more recently when we suffered double-digit unemployment, double-digit inflation, mile-long lines around gas stations and the prime interest rate at 20 1/2 percent. Perhaps we don’t remember those times as vividly because they didn’t last very long.
That was the end of the Carter administration. We elected Ronald Reagan, who declared that “government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.” He reduced the tax and regulatory burdens that were crushing the economy, and produced one of the most prosperous periods in our nation’s history. In doing so, he was following the precedent of successful presidents from both parties including Calvin Coolidge in the 1920’s, Harry S. Truman in the mid-1940’s, and John F. Kennedy in the early 1960’s.
Lest we forget, in 1995, President Bill Clinton proclaimed “the era of big government is over.” He dramatically reduced federal spending as a percentage of GDP. He signed what amounted to the biggest capital gains tax cut in American history. He reduced entitlement spending by reforming the open-ended welfare system. He produced four years of budget surpluses. The economy blossomed.
George W. Bush pursued the opposite policies with the opposite results. He dramatically increased federal spending as a percentage of GDP. He pushed through the biggest expansion of entitlement spending since the Great Society. He began the folly of stimulus spending. He turned in massive budget deficits. The economy tanked.
The problem with Barack Obama is not that he changed Bush’s policies, but rather that he did not change them. He took the worst of them and doubled down.
He has added $6.8 trillion to the national debt, meaning that today’s young people will have to pay back $56,000 plus interest per household through their future taxes for nothing more than to pay for this administration’s overspending.
He has seized one sixth of the American economy that provides our healthcare and is well on the way to wrecking it for millions of American families, costing them their health plans, their doctors, their savings and their security.
He has increased annual taxes by $551 billion – averaging $4,600 for every household in America.
He made a lot of promises that turned out not to be true. He promised that massive government spending would produce prosperity. Instead, average personal income has declined $2,600 during his presidency and food stamp dependency is at an all time high. Nearly one in six Americans is now in poverty, including 22 percent of all children. The workforce has shrunk to as small a portion of the population as the during the disastrous Carter years.
He promised that the government takeover of our healthcare would reduce our health costs and increase coverage for Americans. It has done exactly the opposite: millions more American families have lost their health plans and their doctors than have gained them, and the overwhelming majority has suffered ruinous increases in their healthcare costs.
The result is a declining standard of living at home, a declining respect for America abroad and a generation in danger of becoming the first in our history to be less well off than their parents.
Mr. Speaker, our own sad experience should now tell us that these policies don’t work. They didn’t work under Bush and they certainly haven’t worked under Obama. We know what does work: reducing the financial and regulatory burdens that government has placed on the economy, as both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton proved.
It is time that we abandoned these policies of debt, doubt and despair. It is time we recognized that this government has grown too big and too powerful at the expense of hard-working taxpayers. It is time we restored those uniquely American principles of individual liberty, constitutionally limited government, and personal responsibility that have always been the foundation of our nation’s freedom, prosperity and happiness.
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