Westmoreland Puts His Foot Down

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland is sick and tired of the out-of-control spending in our nation’s capital.  In this piece for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, he discusses recent “emergency” spending bills, the need for budgeting reform, and the lack of fiscal conservatism in a GOP-controlled Congress:

Recently, I was forced to take a tough vote against an “emergency

5 comments

  1. bird says:

    What has happened to the Party of fiscal conservatism? It is amazing that Westmoreland had to take a stand like this without broad Republican support.

    The Atlantic ran a great article on the “Starve the Beast” philosophy of Rove, Norquist & Co.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200606/tax-cuts?pt=-1 (subscription required).

    Specifically, the theory is that if taxes are reduced, eventually federal spending will have to be brought in line. To cut taxes in the short term, government spending does not need to be disturbed. What this has allowed Rove & Co. to do is simultaneously cut taxes AND increase pork spending to keep each and every special interest group and individual congressional district happy.

    The most inciteful comments in the article came from William A. Niskanen, the chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute. He hypothesized that when lawmakers set policy without keeping spending and taxes roughly equivalent, folks feel like they are getting their government at a discount and have no need to reduce spending or raise taxes–run up the credit card so to speak.

    “Niskanen recently analyzed data from 1981 to 2005 and found his hunch strongly confirmed. When he performed a statistical regression that controlled for unemployment (which independently influences spending and taxes), he found, he says, “no sign that deficits have ever acted as a constraint on spending.” To the contrary: judging by the last twenty-five years (plenty of time for a fair test), a tax cut of 1 percent of the GDP increases the rate of spending growth by about 0.15 percent of the GDP a year. A comparable tax hike reduces spending growth by the same amount.

    Again looking at 1981 to 2005, Niskanen then asked at what level taxes neither increase nor decrease spending. The answer: about 19 percent of the GDP. In other words, taxation above that level shrinks government, and taxation below it makes government grow. Thanks to the Bush tax cuts, revenues have been well below 19 percent since 2002 ( 17.8 percent last year). Perhaps not surprisingly, government spending has risen under Bush.

    “I would like to be proven wrong,” says Niskanen. No wonder: for the modern conservative coalition, the implications of his findings are discomfiting, and in a sense tragic. ”

    So, instead of mortgaging our country’s future, more lawmakers need to stand up and ask for accountability and fiscal responsibility. However, this is extremely unlikely to happen because the national Republican strategy is based on cutting taxes and increasing spending, keeping everyone happy and their power in tact regardless of the impending crisis.

  2. Jason Rizner says:

    Bird,

    Very interesting . . . could it be that this administration is using these tactics to benefit itself in the short term and create problems for the next administration to deal with? If so, Rove & Co. must anticipate that Dems will control the White House after the ’08 elections. That’s not encouraging.

    I think 9/11 changed everything in terms of federal spending – much more money was required to defend the homeland and to conduct the international war on terror. However, the need for increased funds in those areas means that means that Congress should have taken the opportunity to find and eliminate wastful spending (like the projects mentioned in Westmoreland’s article). Clearly they have not done that.

  3. Demonbeck says:

    Can someone explain to me why after reading his reasoning, he considered this a tough vote?

  4. Brian from Ellijay says:

    Westmoreland is moving up in my book everyday. I would have to support him if he rean for anything statewide.

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