THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 22, February 15, 1997.

Balancing the Budget ... By Spending More

By Vin Suprynowicz
vin@lvrj.com

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         The quintessential moment of Bill Clinton's State of the Union address Tuesday evening -- as many viewers surfed their channel dials, watching for the near-simultaneous announcement of the jury verdicts in the O.J. Simpson civil trial -- came when the president drew his first sustained ovation, issuing to the combined houses of Congress the challenge: "Let this Congress be the Congress that finally balances the budget."
         After the applause died down, the president repeated his challenge, but with a slight addendum: "Let's balance the budget ... by 2002."
         Take my wife ... please.
         "This Congress," of course, will not be in office in the year 2002. And deficit budgets passed today will still add to the staggering and irredeemable national debt -- while riders blithely promising big spending cuts after Mr. Clinton is safely out of office may be expected to melt away like snowflakes in April.
         Bill Clinton has always been willing to tell us what we want to hear, of course, from his campaign vow to "end welfare as we know it," to his bold pronouncement just a year ago that "The era of big government is over."
         Now, he has rocketed so far into Fantasyland that he warns private employers not to drag their feet over his new carrot-and-whip "incentives" for them to provide jobs to drug addicted unwed mothers: "You can't blame that old welfare system; we've torn it down!" the president shouted.
         Are there special trains streaming out of Washington and the capitals of the several states, carrying home the unemployed welfare workers with their steamer trunks?
         Of course not. In Never-Neverland, taxes go up, more bureaucrats are hired, thousands of new regulations pour forth, hundreds of thousands of new "offenders" are jailed, and the president beams and calls it "smaller."
         The still-ambitious president detailed how "My balanced budget will extend health care to 5 million more children," how his balanced budget will "certify 100,000 new master teachers," fund "training, transportation and child care" to help those "former" welfare recipients get to work, "help finance $20 billion in new school construction" (never before considered a federal responsibility) and even "for the first time pay for annual mammograms."
         Most expensive would be a massive new program of direct aid -- expanded Pell Grants and "a simple skill grant directly into workers' hands" -- to guarantee that "the 13th and 14th years of education must be universal."
         When humorist Garrison Keillor bragged that in his fictional community of Lake Woebegone "All the children are above average," National Public Radio audiences howled. How will they now respond to Mr. Clinton's cooked-up national goal that "every 18-year-old must be able to go to college"?
         The evening, in the end, advanced the nation so far from the famous Democratic promise of "a chicken in every pot" (a promise borrowed from Henri of Navarre, of course) that Americans are now led to expect that government can and will provide them with "a computer in every home."
         And did no one else note the vow to "ban the advertising and marketing of cigarettes that endanger their (children's) lives"?
         Alcohol Prohibition flopped. The current War on Drugs has increased drug potency and consumption many times over, while destroying our inner cities and most of our Constitution. So how much will now be spent -- how many of our remaining freedoms sacrificed -- in the hopeless pursuit of this blithely-stated goal of ending the "marketing of cigarettes" to a nation of tobacco addicts?
         Congress seemed pleased enough, Tuesday night, with a five-year budget plan that backloads all the bureaucratic "pain and sacrifice" into the next century. In the light of another day, here's hoping the Republican-led Congress now thinks to ask: If less government and more freedom would really be good for America ... why wait?
         Mr. Clinton wants credit for "balancing the federal budget"? Just as the GOP last fall forced on the president a more strenuous welfare reform package than he and the Democrats really wanted, let them now give him the balanced budget he says he wants ... a federal budget balanced not by 2002, but in 1998 ... not by raising taxes, but by eliminating the unconstitutional, collectivist, intergenerational New Deal Ponzi schemes known as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
         "Balancing the budget requires only your vote and my signature," the president said.
         Well, the Republicans have the votes to balance the budget now. If they wish to prove their party has any remaining usefulness, let them present such a budget to Mr. Clinton. Then, he can either sign it, or explain why not.

Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications.


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