All right, we admit to being confused. We, along with just about everyone else in this country, would like to cut government spending and taxes. But the rhetoric from Washington is befuddling us. Listening to the debate in Congress, it appears that there are "good" tax cuts and "bad" tax cuts, "good" spending cuts and "bad" spending cuts.
Let's see, government spending on welfare moms is bad because it increases their dependency, but putting taxpayer dollars into farmers' pockets is good because it preserves a great way of life. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax break for the working poor, is bad because it is "welfare" and that's nasty, but tax breaks on inheritance for small businesses is good because it helps the children of entrepreneurs get what they didn't create. Hmmm.
Medicare spending is bad because the nation can't afford so much of it. The solution is to trim funding and move elders into private, competitive, and less costly health-maintenance organizations. But subsidizing ranchers, miners, and timber cutters using federal land with more government money is good because competition would destroy jobs and ruin a great way of life out west. O.K., we're beginning to get the gist of this thing.
Congress wants to end social welfare because it is morally bad and financially irresponsible, but maintaining corporate welfare for oil drillers, ethanol producers, cotton growers, rural utility electricity suppliers, shipbuilders, and commercial broadcasters is just fine.
The truth is, this is the most special interest-driven Congress in many a decade. The Democrats made no bones about transferring lots of taxpayer dollars to their own constituencies. But the new Republican freshman class vowed to end that kind of thing. Instead, it just came up with a new list of political winners and losers. The working poor, traditionally part of the Democratic coalition, are on the wrong side of the list. Even Ronald Reagan called the EITC "the best antipoverty, the best pro-family, the best job-creation measure to come out of Congress." Not this Congress. It is one thing to run on a platform of curbing all government entitlements to everyone and another simply to cut them only for your political enemies.