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Friday, November 16 , 2018, 3:24 pm | Fair 69º


Tom Donohue: Tax and Spend Budget Will Hinder, Not Help, Economic Growth

Remember when Congress passed and the president signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011 to force Washington to cut back on its drunken sailor spending habits? The administration seems to have forgotten — or has chosen to ignore it.

Its 2016 budget blueprint blows the lid off of those spending restraints; doubles down on an agenda of bigger government, higher taxes and wealth distribution; and fails to address the fundamental drivers of runaway spending — entitlement programs.

The president’s budget is more of a political document than an operational plan. It includes major increases in new government spending programs, such as subsidies for childhood education and green energy as well as a brand new community college entitlement for all American students. Things that might be nice if money grew on trees! The total price tag of the budget for 2016 is $4 trillion — a full trillion-dollar increase over government spending in 2008.

And who’s going to foot the bill? The American taxpayers. The proposal includes about $1.6 trillion in new taxes, including tax hikes on capital gains, financial institutions, and profits that companies earn overseas. The administration’s budget whizzes are counting on an 11 percent spike in tax revenues in 2016 — a significant infusion of cash for Washington to spread around as it sees fit.

What’s glaringly absent from the proposal is any acknowledgement of — much less any attempt to fix — the unsustainable entitlement programs that are the primary drivers of our rising deficits. Medicare and Social Security will keep growing until their trust funds run out, while Medicaid’s burden on federal and state budgets will continue to soar. The president’s own plan envisions a budget that never comes close to being balanced and adds almost $7 trillion to the national debt.

The president calls this approach of bigger government, higher taxes and greater wealth distribution “middle class economics.” But the last time we checked, you can’t tax and spend your way to prosperity. You can’t redistribute your way to economic growth. And fostering further dependency on the federal government is no way to create opportunity or lift incomes.

With this budget, the president has missed an opportunity to outline a positive, bipartisan agenda that will restore fiscal fitness and create the one thing essential to solving our nation’s greatest domestic challenge — stronger economic growth.

This proposal is only the opening volley in what’s sure to be a vigorous debate over our nation’s finances. We hope that lawmakers will not seek to divvy up the existing economic pie but instead pursue policies that will grow the economic pie to support more jobs, spur growth and expand opportunity.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.

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