Wednesday, March 4, 2009

REVOLT! Democratic Sen. Bayh of Indiana takes on President Obama over spending too much so soon; We the Taxpayers may have an advocate after all

Today brought the first break in Democratic Party ranks as Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh -- once a favorite to be President Obama's running mate -- came out strongly against excessive spending in Washington and by the White House.

Bayh also came out against raising taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year.

At issue presently is an omnibus spending bill of more than $400 billion with more earmarks than even Dumbo could leave in one flyby. Republicans and Democrats have larded down the measure to be considered this week. Bayh is urging the measure's defeat, and if not, an Obama veto.

Also today, Sen. Russ Feingold, another Democrat, and Sen. John McCain urged defeat of the measure. It was drawn up the previous Congress. Its passage is needed to keep government operating.

But Bayh went a step further than his colleagues and criticized the overzealous spending by the Obama administration in a column for The Wall Street Journal:

Our nation's current fiscal imbalance is unprecedented, unsustainable and, if unaddressed, a major threat to our currency and our economic vitality. The national debt now exceeds $10 trillion. This is almost double what it was just eight years ago, and the debt is growing at a rate of about $1 million a minute.

Washington borrows from foreign creditors to fund its profligacy. The amount of U.S. debt held by countries such as China and Japan is at a historic high, with foreign investors holding half of America's publicly held debt. This dependence raises the specter that other nations will be able to influence our policies in ways antithetical to American interests. The more of our debt that foreign governments control, the more leverage they have on issues like trade, currency and national security. Massive debts owed to foreign creditors weaken our global influence, and threaten high inflation and steep tax increases for our children and grandchildren.

The solution going forward is to stop wasteful spending before it starts. Families and businesses are tightening their belts to make ends meet -- and Washington should too.

The omnibus debate is not merely a battle over last year's unfinished business, but the first indication of how we will shape our fiscal future. Spending should be held in check before taxes are raised, even on the wealthy. Most people are willing to do their duty by paying taxes, but they want to know that their money is going toward important priorities and won't be wasted.

Last week I was pleased to attend the president's White House Fiscal Responsibility Summit. It's about time we had a leader committed to addressing the deficit, and Mr. Obama deserves great credit for doing so. But what ultimately matters are not meetings or words, but actions. Those who vote for the omnibus this week -- after standing with the president and pledging to slice our deficit in half last week -- jeopardize their credibility.

As Indiana's governor, I balanced eight budgets, never raised taxes, and left the largest surplus in state history. It wasn't always easy. Cuts had to be made and some initiatives deferred. Occasionally I had to say "no."

But the bloated omnibus requires sacrifice from no one, least of all the government. It only exacerbates the problem and hastens the day of reckoning. Voters rightly demanded change in November's election, but this approach to spending represents business as usual in Washington, not the voters' mandate.

Now is the time to win back the confidence and trust of the American people. Congress should vote "no" on this omnibus and show working families across the country that we are as committed to living within our means as they are.

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