The fight for economic freedom begins in earnest today.
Congratulations to the hundreds of spontaneous grassroots organizers who have successfully organized the over 300 tea party events that will take place today across the country. Such events have already been widespread, and highly successful, with sudden big crowds: 2,000 in St. Louis, 3,000 in Cincinnati, 6,000 in Orlando, as recently reported by Peter Roff in a Fox News blog.
Because these events are highly decentralized, with no significant institutional organization or funding behind them, they represent a genuine outpouring of grassroots opinion with enormous political importance. For every person out in the streets today, there are undoubtedly many more who didn’t make it who share the same opinions. The bigger the demonstrations today, the bigger the rest of the iceberg under water. Moreover, this movement represents genuine grassroots organization, as names and contact information are collected, and this will be valuable for future political activity.
These people are both against and for something. They are against the left-wing extremism of the current political leadership in Washington, from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi, to Barney Frank, to Henry Waxman, and on and on. No wonder Newsweek (soon going out of business) thinks we are a nation of socialists now, as it admitted in a recent cover story.
But even more, the tea party revelers are for a sophisticated vision of economic freedom. They recognize that the more resources the government takes out of the private sector, through taxes, borrowing and spending, the less freedom that average working people have left for the pursuit of happiness. Taxes as a percent of GDP, government spending as a percent of GDP, should be taken as reverse indicators of economic freedom. The higher they are, the less economic freedom people have. The lower they are, the more economic freedom we have. In other words, the more the government takes your money to spend on what it wants, the less freedom you have to choose to spend, or to save and invest, your own money as you want. And visa versa.
Let us review the already gruesome results of the Obama economic policy to see what has the people out in the streets. Obama’s budget for this year increases federal spending by an extremist 34% over the budget adopted for last year, to a total of $4 trillion, the highest ever! Since World War II, going back over 60 years now, federal spending as a percent of GDP has been stable, hovering around 20%. But federal spending for this year under the Obama budget and economic policies will soar to a shocking 28.5%of GDP, an increase in the size of the federal government in Obama’s first year of 42% compared to the postwar average relative to GDP.
Over the longer run, because of exploding federal entitlements, federal spending will soar to 40% to 50% of GDP, depending on how much permanent damage Obama does. With state and local spending, the total will climb towards 60%, and we will no longer be a free country.
The Congressional Budget Office projects Obama’s budget deficit for this year at a shocking $1.845 trillion, the highest ever. That would be more than seven times Reagan’s largest deficit of $221 billion, which caused so much howling among liberals and Democrats. This Obama budget deficit will total an astounding 13.1% of GDP, more than one-eighth of the entire U.S. economy, for the federal deficit alone!
Obama says that this is George Bush’s budget deficit. But it wasn’t George Bush who led adoption of a $1 trillion stimulus package in February, followed by a $410 billion supplemental spending bill the next week, with a $275 billion housing bailout plan proposed the following week, $634 billion as a down payment on a new national health insurance entitlement adopted in the budget, and another $1 trillion bank bailout plan recently announced as well. (Note: The entire economy produces just $14 trillion a year, so $1 trillion is real money.)
Obama said in his national press conference on March 24, “We’re doing everything we can to reduce that deficit.” But do his actions recounted above look like he is “doing everything we can to reduce that deficit”?
The deficit for the last budget adopted when Congress was controlled by Republican majorities, for fiscal 2007, was $162 billion, or 1.2% of GDP. CBO projects that by 2019 under Obama’s budget, the deficit will still be well over $1 trillion.
Finally, under Obama’s budget the national debt will double over the next five years, and triple over the next ten, to $17.3 trillion. The national debt as a percent of GDP will soar from 40% to a peacetime record of 82.4%, almost as large as the entire economy, and twice as high as when Reagan left office. If the economy does not recover permanently next year, as even the CBO assumes (not going to happen long term), Obama could even top the World War II record of national debt at 113% of GDP, spending mostly on welfare and entitlements, rather than on fighting the Nazis and Imperial Japan.
Does this sound like we’re “moving from an era of borrow-and-spend to one where we save and invest,” as Obama also said in his press conference last month?
Is this unfair to Obama, who needed to restore economic growth to a collapsing economy he inherited? After all, as Obama recently laughed, “What do you think a stimulus is?”
Well, ask yourself, will we restore growth through increased welfare, runaway federal spending, and record deficits and debt? Or does growth come from reducing tax rates, unnecessary regulatory burdens, and government spending, and maintaining a strong dollar? That’s what Reagan did, and the result was a 25-year economic boom that spread across the entire planet, with “70 million people a year [worldwide]…joining the middle class,” as Steve Forbes recently observed. What Obama is doing is the opposite of this proven formula, in every detail.
Oh, the economy will “recover” later this year, because it is still a powerful, capitalist economy that tends towards growth. But Obama’s economic policies are taking America back on a long, slow, nostalgia tour to the glorious economy of Jimmy Carter, complete with gas and energy shortages, soaring inflation and interest rates, and persistent unemployment. Over the longer run, that road leads back to the liberal left glory days of the 1930s.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online