Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

April 2, 2001

Uncontrolled Spending Threatens Our Liberty

Last week Congress began its annual budget debate. As usual, big-spending members from both parties took every opportunity to lobby for huge increases in their pet programs. I'm always amazed by the arrogance with which Congress proposes to spend taxpayer funds, but this year is even worse because of the tax overcharge (also known as the "surplus"). The overcharge presents Congress with an obvious opportunity to significantly cut taxes, but the spending frenzy threatens to swallow the tax relief debate. The big spenders are doing their best to confuse America into believing that the government cannot "afford" to cut taxes. In truth, they simply don't want Congress to face even the slightest spending constraints.
The tax cut debate is wholly separate from the budget debate. I promised the voters in my district that I would uphold the Constitution and fight to make the federal government smaller. This promise compels me to vote for all tax cuts and against all spending increases. My voting record in Congress shows that I consistently vote to reduce the size of government.
I certainly support President Bush's tax cut initiatives, and I will vote (or have voted) for each plank in his tax cut plan. Lowering marginal rates, eliminating the marriage penalty, abolishing the death tax- these are worthy goals for any administration. I also applaud the President for living up to his campaign promises by making these tax cuts a priority. Congress already approved marginal rate reductions and elimination of the marriage penalty; estate tax repeal legislation likely will reach the House floor in April. At this rate the President may enact his tax cut proposals by the end of the year, which would be a great accomplishment for a new administration. Certainly my own legislation would reduce taxes more drastically, but I always support any tax cut proposals as a step in the right direction. Voters in my district know that I am committed to reducing the size of the federal government, and tax reduction is an important step in returning the federal government to its proper constitutional role.
However, the single greatest threat to our liberty in America is uncontrolled spending by Congress. Americans need to understand the stark reality behind the often boring and confusing budget rhetoric: Congress will spend nearly $2 trillion in 2002. This amount represents almost 11% more than Congress will spend in 2001. This massive spending funds an unbelievable number of federal departments, agencies, programs, and personnel. Most Americans understand that the federal government is far too large, yet most of their representatives in Congress continue to vote for spending increases every year. As a result, the same unconstitutional agencies grow, the same counterproductive programs are perpetuated, and the same military adventurism expands around the globe. In short, this spending insures that the federal government has more and more power over our lives, power never dreamed of nor intended by the authors of our Constitution. The more Congress spends, the less liberty we have.
I particularly object to proposals to add billions to the federal Education department budget. Every year Congress spends more on education, yet our public schools continue to decline. Now Congress wants to expand the education budget by about 11%, meaning taxpayers will spend nearly $50 billion next year on more failed federal education programs. Those dollars should remain at the local level, where parents and teachers make better decisions than federal education bureaucrats.
We hear Congress talk about smaller government, but the size of the federal budget increases each year. Huge amounts of federal spending could be eliminated if Congress adhered to the limited enumerated powers listed in the Constitution. I plan to continue my efforts during the summer appropriations process to fight for needed cuts in the bloated federal budget.