Every morning at 6:00 am I wake up to the mellifluous tones of National Public Radio’s Bob Edwards reading the morning headlines. Last week, Edwards opened my day with “President Clinton’s $500 billion deficit reduction package goes to Congress today.”
A $500 billion deficit reduction package? This latest example of Washington, D.C., doublespeak — saying one thing (such as “deficit reduction”) when reality is just the opposite — needs explanation. After all, Clinton’s plan is to increase the deficit by more than $1.0 trillion during his first term.
Let’s put Clinton’s “deficit reduction” in the perspective of a family budget, just so we can understand what it means. Imagine the following scenario: a family discussion at the dinner table after a hard day’s work.
Husband: Honey, how are our finances holding up? It seems like we are spending a lot.
Wife (who keeps the family books): Pretty much OK. We are spending more, but don’t forget I got a nice raise last summer. So we’re spending about what’s coming in. We stay about even.
Husband: That’s good. So everything’s OK.
Wife: Well, not really. We need to be putting something away — college for Johnny, our retirement and a new roof.
Husband: Right. Well, the reason I asked is this: I would really like to buy that Mercedes Benz. You know, that 400 SEL sedan. The dealer says I can get one discounted for $80,000.
Wife: Have you lost your mind? We can’t afford an $80,000 car! The last thing we need at this time of our life is an $80,000 deficit. And don’t give me that “It’s an investment” line. When the money goes out the door, it’s spending.
Husband: You’re right. An $80,000 deficit is way beyond our means. We can’t afford it. (Fade to later that night, sitting by the TV, after the evening news.)
Husband: I’ve been thinking about that car deal we discussed at dinner.
Wife: Well, I still think it’s crazy to spend $80,000 we don’t have — for anything! Husband: But listen to this. I just read in the paper where we can get a new Ford Taurus for $20,000, loaded. That’s $60,000 less than the Mercedes. Whadda ya think?
Wife: That’s a great idea. And it will give us a $60,000 deficit reduction! You are such a financial wizard. And they bought the Taurus with borrowed money — along with a bumper sticker: “We are spending our children’s inheritance.”
This is exactly what the Administration is doing when they say they are presenting a $500 billion “deficit reduction” package. Fact: President Clinton’s own plan calls forincreasing the deficit during his first four years by more than $1.0 trillion — more than any actual one-term deficit of either Presidents Reagan or Bush. Fact: President Clinton’s own budget has planned deficits that exceed $200 billion each year until 1998 — when deficits begin to rise again. Result: President Clinton, like those before him, is a credit card junkie — only worse.
This is not a responsible way for government to manage an economy. If anyone thinks that irresponsible governments can’t destroy an economy, just look at the former Soviet Union. Just look at 500 years of Latin American history. It’s time to stop cooking the books…and to start reporting the facts.