February 10 2013
Politics is Like a Box of Chocolates
Carrie L. Lukas
Except with President Obama you always know what you're gonna get: More big government promises.
Forget the roses and the jewelry this year.
President Obama's State of the Union address, set two days before Valentine's Day, will be full of gifts intended to further seduce American women -- a giant national heart-shaped Whitman's Sampler of policies, so to speak. That round one on the left? A delicious caramel with an equal pay center. The pink one with nuts? Coated in "free" health care. And that lovely fat chocolaty one in the middle? Sprinkled with new spending programs guaranteed to boost the economy and help struggling American families. All gain, no pain!
American women shouldn't fall for it: politicians have been making these kinds of enticing claims about how more and more spending will pay off this time for sure, but sadly, they've always disappointed. We've seen the regrettable results in our growing national debt and still-floundering economy, both of which erode the government's ability to deal with actual emergencies. For women in particular, who too often have bought into the Washington myth of "more is always better," it's time to recognize we're in a relationship with Uncle Sam that just isn't working out.
In each of the previous four years, the federal government has added more than trillion dollars to our national debt. The rationale was turning the economy around.
Americans don't need to hear the dreary statistics -- that our unemployment rate is stuck at nearly 8%, that labor force participation is at a record low since millions have given up seeking work, that groceries and gas prices are skyrocketing, or that the economy didn't grow last quarter, signaling a potential decline back into recession -- to know the profligate spending hasn't succeed. They see the bad economy everywhere, in going-out-of-business signs, in unemployed college grads and in friends struggling to make ends meet.
Women oversee most families' personal finances. They know deficit-spending can't continue forever. If Washington won't meaningfully tackle its spending addiction, ultimately taxes will go up for everyone. Americans already know they're paying more in taxes in 2013 and the president has made it clear he wants taxes to continue to climb.
Even if tax increases primarily are targeted at the top earners, who incidentally don't make nearly enough to cover our massive deficit, the economic blowback will imperil all Americans. Taxes mean slower business, less savings and reduced investment -- all of which is crucial to generate growth and prosperity. The president himself once conceded the negative effects of tax increases, warning "you don't raise taxes in a recession." Exactly. The president has yet to explain how taking more from businesses and customers will fix our economy.
Growth is what this country needs. The stalled economy has left millions struggling. Many have turned to government for assistance, via disability payments, Medicaid, food stamps or unemployment support. These programs have set new records each year.
That's not something to celebrate. Their growth means too many Americans families lack the opportunity to use their time and talents productively, and that have lost the confidence that brighter days are ahead.
Americans shouldn't settle for this. We shouldn't be satisfied with handouts that help barely endure the feeble economy. We shouldn't accept pronouncements from Washington that it's always taxpayers who must give more, while politicians continue business-as-usual.
The path to a healthier relationship with Washington is restoring government to its proper limits. That means cutting spending that burdens and politicizes the economy, reforming outdated entitlement programs so they can continue and protect the truly helpless, and eliminating unnecessary red tape that holds back entrepreneurship and business dynamism.
Wrapped in the rhetorical equivalent of a heart-shaped box or not, we don't need more government-expanding binges fueled by Washington fantasies. America instead needs a relationship with some responsible reality -- a limited government that does its core functions well, while leaving space for free citizens to live their own lives.
Carrie Lukas is the managing director at the Independent Women's Forum and co-author of Liberty is No War on Women.