Texas Times: Tax, Borrow and Spend -- Not the Answer

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn Mar. 31, 2009, 5:28am

Cornyn (R)

As we endure tough economic times, families across Texas are making hard choices and tightening their belts to be able to cover their expenses and provide for their children.

Many Texans are looking for work. Small business owners are downsizing. And men and women close to retirement age are trying to figure out ways to replenish their life savings, which suffered a devastating blow from the economic downturn.

This is a time when middle-class Americans are looking to leaders in Washington for principled leadership, sound advice and reassurance that there will be brighter days ahead. Unfortunately, Democrat leaders in Washington are leaving much to be desired.

Shortly after rushing a $1.1 trillion economic "stimulus" plan through Congress, President Obama and Democrats hurried another massive spending bill-the $410 billion omnibus-past the American people.

Both of these enormous spending bills were loaded down in wasteful spending and pet projects that will have no immediate, direct impact on the economy.

In both cases, there was little to no bipartisan input and the bills were rushed through Congress, failing to give its members and the American people the time needed to carefully read through the hundreds of pages of taxpayer-funded measures.

The buck did not stop there. The President then announced his $3.6 trillion budget proposal, which would put more debt on the books than the previous 43 Presidents did - combined. It would double the public's debt in five years and triple it in 10.

Furthermore, in the last year of the President's plan, taxpayers would be spending more on interest than on national defense. Ultimately, our children and our grandchildren will be asked to pay the bill – one they will inevitably not be able to afford.

Simply stated, this budget spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much.

This week, Congressional leaders had the opportunity to produce a much leaner, more responsible budget. They could have used red ink the right way – to slash through reckless spending proposals and ensure taxpayer dollars were not being wasted.

As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I attempted to improve the budget through amendments to protect our children and grandchildren from inheriting massive amounts of debt, but unfortunately Democrats on the committee refused these common-sense measures.

Democrat leaders should have produced a budget that speaks to the economic challenges of today as well as the security of future generations. One that models the budgeting practices of families in Texas across the country who are cutting back on expenses and prioritizing their needs.

One that supports - not burdens - small businesses, which are the top job creator in the country. And one that considers future generations and doesn't carelessly pass onto them billions in IOUs.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment in this budget are the tax increases.

This includes a proposal that moves us closer to a new national energy tax for every American who puts gas in a car, heats or cools a home, uses electricity to cook a meal, turns on the lights, or powers a computer. This broad tax could exceed trillions of dollars and could cost every Texas family up to $3,100 a year.

It includes raising taxes on small businesses. Small businesses generate two-thirds of our nation's new jobs. Raising taxes on the most successful small businesses will result in more layoffs, and deter new investments across Texas.

This is the wrong solution to jumpstarting our economy and growing jobs here at home.

The budget will also raise taxes on America's energy producers. Here in Texas, we know that 90 percent of our nation's wells are manned by small and independent businesses. These wells are critical to reducing our dependence on oil from unstable foreign nations. Doing away with tax incentives for independent energy producers will severely hinder domestic energy production and job creation.

No one wants to see gas prices return to last summer's highs, but if we tie the hands of our domestic producers, it will only be a matter of time before energy prices rise again.

The President and Democrat leaders cannot continue to tax, borrow and spend in hopes of reviving the economy.

It's time for these leaders to take a cue from families and business in Texas and across the country who are making the tough but responsible decisions to weather this economic storm and land on their feet.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

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