In the Weekly Standard editorial Jim links to below, Matthew Continetti writes, “Typically, the job of politics is to figure out what kind of society we would like to have, and then figure out a way to pay for it.” The problem with this view is that how much something will cost is a key part of the decision making process (or should be). Somebody may want a new television at $800, may be on the fence about it if it’s $1000, but will rule it out at $2,000. Likewise, polls show that Americans want more government services, but there is only so much that they are willing to pay for them.
Unfortunately, at every level of society, figuring out how to pay for the stuff that we want has simply meant going into debt. And that’s what got us into the current mess in the first place. Regardless of whether or not they could afford it, Americans bought the TVs they craved, the cars they wanted, and houses that they liked. Similarly, Obama doesn’t pay for the society he wants, because doing so would mean raising taxes on more than 5 percent of the country — he simply puts us into debt. Just like the housing boom, this will be unsustainable over time. So this shouldn’t be about what’s more politically popular at the moment, but what’s more responsible in the long run. Is it charging that $2000 TV that you can’t afford on your credit card? Or is it determining how much you can afford, and then finding the best TV you can at that price?
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