September 24, 2009

Evan Bayh: Democrats Must Restrain Spending

I missed Evan Bayh's article in the Wall Street Journal last week, but I certainly hope he votes his own belief:

For the next fiscal year, assuming the economy has gathered sufficient momentum, we should freeze domestic discretionary spending, limit increases in defense spending to the rate of inflation, forgo pay raises for federal workers, and institute a federal hiring freeze.

These steps alone won't put our fiscal house in order; more difficult action is needed. But by showing common cause with middle-class families facing their own budget crises, we can send an important signal that Washington has the will to chart a more responsible course.

In many ways, it is unfair to blame President Barack Obama for the magnitude of federal government's fiscal problem and the urgency of dealing with it. He didn't create this mess. According to a New York Times estimate, 90% of the deficit growth over Mr. Obama's first term in office is attributable to policies and conditions he inherited. Regardless, if we wait for the markets to force corrective action, the danger to our economy will be greater and the correction more painful.

Spending restraint will not come easily to the Democratic Party. Pent-up demand for investment in education, health care and the environment is understandable after the Bush years. But long-term progressive government can't be built on a foundation of debt and deficits. We cannot indefinitely share with the less-fortunate resources we do not possess.

Despite the partisan bash of Bush, Bayh seems to understand that we cannot continue spending at this pace and we need to reduce. Here's hoping.

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