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Government cannot spend its way to general prosperity

Another View
By: Tom McClintock, 4th District Representative
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I thank my friend, Charlie Brown, for recently cataloging the Democrats’ legislative agenda so comprehensively (Another View, March 5). He is correct that I have strongly opposed the historically unprecedented tax-borrow-and-spend policies that in the span of just a few months have tripled our nation’s annual deficit — but he is dead wrong that I have done so without offering alternatives or to the detriment of our district. One needs to look no further than the continuing decline of the stock market to see the damage that Mr. Brown’s favorite policies are doing to our economy. The stock market doesn’t look back — it is strictly a forward-looking measure of what investors are betting will happen to our economy under current policy. And its precipitous decline since these policies have been unveiled should be a warning to us all. Charlie Brown is betting otherwise. He is betting with our money that the prescription for prosperity is record-breaking increases in taxes, borrowing and spending. He contends that the so-called stimulus bill will “add 8,300 new jobs here in the 4th Congressional District.” Let’s put that to the smell test. The pro-rated price of the $787 billion stimulus will cost 4th District taxpayers approximately $1.8 billion and provide, according to Mr. Brown, 8,300 jobs. That comes to more than $200,000 per job. It will cost every man, woman and child in our district $2,500 in future taxes to pay for this single bill, or roughly $10,000 for an average family of four. Question for Mr. Brown: How many jobs will we now lose as our families are robbed of a huge chunk of their future discretionary income? That is why the Congressional Budget Office has warned that the stimulus bill that Mr. Brown supports will reduce the future growth of the nation’s economy. As an alternative, I co-sponsored H.R. 470 that sought to reduce the excessive tax and regulatory burdens heaped on small businesses, a bill that economists tell us would produce twice the jobs at half the cost of the Democrats’ plan. Unfortunately, the Pelosi majority in Congress agrees with Mr. Brown, and that legislation failed. The cost of these policies is now becoming apparent with the staggering $1.4 trillion tax increase just unveiled by the Obama administration that promises to hammer small businesses with higher taxes and struggling families with dramatically increased energy prices and spiraling inflation. The nation’s new direction was set by voters in November, and Mr. Brown needn’t fret: the big-government policies he advocates are being enacted with reckless abandon — albeit over my strong objections. If he is right, unprecedented tax increases, borrowing and government spending will soon produce an unparalleled era of prosperity. If he is wrong, the economic agony of our community and our nation will deepen and lengthen. And for that reason I fervently hope he is right, but I sincerely fear that he is wrong. History offers not a single example of a government that has spent its way to economic prosperity, and many examples of governments that have spent their way to bankruptcy, economic ruin and collapse. Tom McClintock is representative for the 4th District of California.