It's the spending, stupid: Poor choices stick citizens with fat bill

  • Follow Opinion columns

The news that several of my erstwhile conservative allies in Washington raised taxes as their remedy for the “fiscal cliff” leaves me feeling a little like Gen. George Patton when he remarked: “I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.”

To confirm the obvious, it is not a revenue problem; it is a spending problem. The Tax Policy Center reports that since 1989 (recognize that year?), federal revenue has grown 149 percent, from about $991 billion to $2.468 trillion (2012 estimate). Federal spending, simultaneously, has risen from $1.143 trillion to $3.795 trillion (2012 estimate), or 232 percent.

It’s a spending problem, but apparently not for some Republicans.

In the same bill, Republicans voted to spend the money on these gems: $59 million for algae growers; a $4 million green energy tax credit for electric motorcycle manufacturers; a wind tax credit for $12.1 billion; $430 million for Hollywood producers; $70 million for NASCAR; and a rum tax subsidy for Puerto Rican rum makers.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. (yes, the former chairman of the Club for Growth), explained his vote for the tax and spending spree: “This legislation is the best we could do for taxpayers and job seekers.” I wonder if Sen. Toomey would show up at a burning house with a five-gallon can of gasoline.

U.S. SEN. MITCH McConnell, R-Ky., opined: “By acting, we’ve shielded more than 99 percent of taxpayers from a massive tax hike.” First, that 1 percent that McConnell so blithely threw under the bus already totes about 40 percent of the tax load. Second, I wonder if the next mugging victim in McConnell’s hometown would feel better if the senator told him he is the only one mugged that day. Never have so few taken so much from so many.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan said, “This legislation settles the level of revenue Washington should bring in.” Really? We already had enough revenue for big-government politicians to spend on things like I found in this list from 2011: $764,825 for a study on how college students use cell phones and social media; $136,555 for teachers to retrace the travel path taken by characters in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in England; $55,660 on butter packaging; $606,000 for a study about online dating; $48,700 toward the Second Annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival; $147,138 to build a magic museum; and $175,587 for a study on the link between cocaine and the mating habits of quail.

The dollars noted above amount to the fiscal equivalent of turning a garden hose on a forest fire, but they highlight the point. We cannot trust Washington politicians with the nickels and dimes, so how can we trust them with the big money?

Recall fondly the 2009 stimulus bill that, by the end of 2011, had spent nearly $900 billion of your money. An October 2012 study by Ohio State University economics professor Bill Dupor concluded that “ARRA created/saved approximately 450,000 state and local government jobs and destroyed/forestalled roughly 1 million private-sector jobs. State and local government jobs were saved because ARRA funds were largely used to offset state revenue shortfalls and Medicaid increases rather than boost private-sector employment. The majority of destroyed/forestalled jobs were in growth industries including health, education, professional and business services.”

PERHAPS WE DO not generate enough revenue if the goal, now shared by Republicans, is to annihilate the private sector and replace it with government. If the government does everything for us, then we have no need for the private sector, and it has no need for its money, so government should just take it from them.

South Carolina is blessed with holdouts from a Soviet future. Republican U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy declared: “What we’re — and I mean the South Carolina delegation — not in favor of is more spending.” Republican U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney noted: “‘Borrowing’ money without intending to ever pay it back is not debt. It is theft.” Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan said: “Not only does this bill fail to address spending, but it potentially undoes the spending cuts adopted as part of the debt ceiling compromise from 2011.” Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott said that “revenues have not been the problem, are not the problem, and will not be the problem.”

The new Republican tax-and-spenders, however, now can slap backs and yuk it up with their new friends across the aisle – while you and I, and future generations, foot the bill.

(The writer, R-Anderson, represents District 3 in the South Carolina State Senate. He can be reached at

Comments (8) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Techfan 01/13/13 - 08:40 am
Senator Bryant seems to have

Senator Bryant seems to have missed a few things (not counting that starting 2 wars and creating a Medicare drug plan might have caused a slight uptick in spending and that gashing tax rates, mostly for the wealthy, had a downtick in revenue.
He lists a lot of spending, but leaves out a few things, such as:

A sitting SC Senator throwing a hissy fit and holding the entire Congress hostage until he gets millions for harbor dredging in Charleston.
Why no mention of:
$299 million for transporation
$694 million for fiscal stabilization
$140 million for education
$109 billion for energy
$197 million for housing
$1.5 billion for housing
$7.4 billion for defense

all from the stimulus (and just a partial listing) I guess he just missed those. I believe, and I hope Sen Bryant believes the same, that states should receive no more in revenue from the Fed than they send the Fed in Taxes. Of course that means SC might have to tighten its budget a tad since it receives $1.92 for every dollar it sends in, but maybe the states that take would then learn to stop living on the backs of the other states. How about it Sen Bryant?

ymnbde 01/13/13 - 09:34 am
oh, Techfan

do you have no efficiency ratings for your charities? The federal government would have the lowest efficiency rating of any charity. The ratio of dollars they get, compared to the dollars that actually reach the people being helped, is pitiful. A flourishing private sector creates more good for more people than any government.
If you're going to act like the government is a charity, hold it to the standards of a good charity. The government, our government especially, it the most inefficient charity in history. The people are better.

robaroo 01/13/13 - 12:36 pm
Debt Is the Overriding Problem

While I would prefer cutting spending, the number one priority should be balancing the budget, period. Anything that increases the debt is worse than the alternatives.

If one party doesn't have the votes to force enough tax increases to pay for the programs, they need to scale back the spending.

If one party doesn't have the votes to force spending cuts, they need to bite the bullet and pass tax increases.

Darby 01/13/13 - 03:04 pm
"starting 2 wars and creating a Medicare drug plan"...

....Strange, I thought the "Wonderful, serene, peaceful" religion of radical Islam started the War on Terror. Much in the same manner as did the Japanese in 1941, only this time by taking three times the American lives in one attack.

And as for the Medicare drug plan, it was passed in the Senate by a vote of 54 to 44 and certainly NOT along party lines -- 11 Democrats voted in favor and nine Republicans voted no.

So, without your wonderful Democrats, Bush's drug plan would have failed with ONLY 43 votes. I'm not that thrilled with the plan either, but Democrats pushed it over the top. Thank them for that will you, Techfan?

Darby 01/14/13 - 12:53 pm
"If one party doesn't have the votes to force spending.....

......cuts, they need to bite the bullet and pass tax increases"

Sounds great in theory and I'll support that if you can document even ONE case where, in a bad economy, an increase in taxes has resulted in an increase in revenue. You can't, so I won't.

Now, if the economy is thriving, then it's possible to increase revenue to the government (in the short run) by raising taxes, but then the effect is always reversed because the power mad politicos alway waste the extra money to buy influence and power and the bump soon disappears.

RMSHEFF 01/13/13 - 04:46 pm
Techfan is still blaming Bush

Techfan is still blaming Bush after 4+ years. OK, let all blame Bush, but techfan' s solution to the debt is electing Obama to add trillions more in spending. I would like him to answer the following question....If at the end of Obama's second term ( 8 years removed from Bush) if the deficit continues to grow by a trillion a year and the size of the federal government get bigger and bigger, will you then blame Obama or will you still blame Bush? At what point is Obama responsible or did Bush ruin the economy for all eternity?

deestafford 01/13/13 - 06:45 pm
Tax Revenue Went Up With The Bush Tax Cuts

When the tax cuts went into effect the following revenue increases occurred:
2004... +$101.8 Billion
2005... +$273.6 Billion
2006... +$253.4 Billion
2007... +160.9 Billion
Then the demos took over congress and Bush failed to veto any spending and revenues went down each of the following years. Income to the government goes UP when taxes go down.

Now, if SC can get rid of Senator Graham and we Georgians can get rid of both of our two RHINOs we will be on the way toward some sensible folks in DC.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
New CEO of AUMC focusing on improving patient safety and satisfaction
New AU Medical Center CEO Lee Ann Liska has "truly hit the ground running" in her first two months and is already planning sweeping changes to improve patient safety and satisfaction, Augusta ...