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Where America Went Wrong, and How We Can Get Back on the Track

This morning, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew appeared at a Senate Budget Committee hearing on President Obama’s FY 2015 budget proposal. Not a lot of attention has been paid to Obama’s budget, probably because, to an even greater extent than usual, it is dead on arrival. There is zero chance of it being the basis for federal spending next year, let alone the next ten years. Still, it has significance as an indicator of where Obama and his administration would like to take the country, given the opportunity.

So ranking member Jeff Sessions took advantage of the opportunity to sum up where the country has gone under Obama, what the results of his policies have been, and what we need to do to get the country moving forward again. It is, I think, as good a concise summary as you will find:

Thank you, Secretary Lew, for appearing before us today.

In 2009, the Administration wagered America’s financial future on the idea that a record increase in government spending and debt would revive the economy.

Since then, government debt has increased 64 percent and is on track to double by the end of the President’s second term. What are the results?

* America is in the midst of slowest recovery since the end of World War II.

* Workforce participation has shrunk to a nearly 40-year low.

* The Labor Department reports that most occupations pay less today than they did when the President took office.

* Government debt has leaped from roughly $10 trillion to $17 trillion, yet median income has dropped $2,268 per household over that same time, and the decline has actually accelerated.

This is a huge disaster.

The justification for this unprecedented accumulation of debt was the claim that it would lead to prosperity. And yet now, we have none of the prosperity and all of the debt. This plan has proven to be one of the most costly failed gambits in American history. The White House’s average 2013 growth projection in their 2009 through 2012 budgets was 3.9 percent. Economic growth is critical for America’s workers—translating into higher wages and better jobs with benefits.

But actual growth last year came in at half what was projected, 1.9 percent—a huge difference with real impact on millions of Americans. For example, CBO has repeatedly said that the Administration’s $870 billion stimulus bill would be a long-term drag on the economy.

So what does the President propose in his new budget?

The plan increases spending growth by almost $1 trillion, bursting through the Ryan-Murray spending caps he signed into law only two months ago.

So, while the military gets hammered, other agency budgets soar. The White House proposes the following increases next year:

* A 45% increase for the Department of Housing and Urban Development

* An 18% increase for the Legal Services Corporation

* A 15% increase for the Department of Energy

* A 30% increase for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and

* A 7% increase for the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

The plan also raises taxes more than $1 trillion—in addition to the $1.7 trillion in taxes he’s already enacted. New proposed taxes include:

* Limit the value of itemized deductions to raise taxes by almost $600 billion.

* Raise the death tax and reduce the exclusion to increase taxes by over $100 billion.

* Increase taxes on unemployment insurance by $78 billion.

* Increase taxes on energy production by $49 billion.

So the President raises taxes to increase spending. It is a tax-and-spend budget that will never pass. Altogether, the White House budget plan would add another $8 trillion to our $17 trillion debt. [Ed.: And that assumes that all of the optimistic assumptions in Obama's ten-year plan come true--which has never happened yet.]

The seriousness of the situation is demonstrated by this fact: last year, we paid our creditors $221 billion in interest on our federal debt. Under the President’s plan, according to his own numbers, annual interest payments will nearly quadruple to $812 billion.

Rising interest payments represent arguably the gravest threat to our nation’s financial security. Should interest rates increase even slightly above projections, the costs of financing our debt would quickly surge to emergency levels. As the Director of the Congressional Budget Office warned, we face “the risk of a fiscal crisis.”

Clearly, we must pursue a new course that creates jobs and that does not add to our debt. Here’s how:

* Produce more American energy to create jobs right here in the U.S.

* Streamline the tax code and lower rates to make America more globally competitive

* Eliminate every unnecessary regulation that destroys jobs

* Adopt a trade policy that defends the legitimate interests of U.S. workers

* Enforce an immigration policy that serves American workers

* Turn the welfare office into a job a training center

* Make government leaner, doing more with less

* Balance the budget to restore confidence and growth

Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of Senator Sessions. I think his judgment is solid and his instinct for what issues deserve priority is unerring. If Republican politicians take this brief summary as a campaign blueprint–with elaboration on how Obamacare has contributed to the economy’s dismal performance during the Age of Obama–they won’t go wrong.

Most of them will win, too: today’s Rasmussen Reports finds that only 29% of likely voters think the U.S. is headed in the right direction, and 60% think that more government spending and higher taxes hurt the economy. Despite all of the efforts of the news media, the academy, Hollywood and so on, a clear majority of Americans are receptive to the conservative message. But the message needs to be conveyed with clarity, consistency and conviction.

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