Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Op-Ed: Back to the Basics

April 14, 2009


Over the past several months, Americans’ confidence in our financial system has been shaken to the core.  The average person might not understand a lot about "credit default swaps" and the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but you don’t have to be a Wall Street wizard to understand that over a trillion dollars in taxpayer money has gone to bail out a mess created by corporate incompetence and exacerbated by government fumbling.

While the challenges facing our economy are complex, our solutions must be grounded in the simple truths that have always fostered growth and prosperity.  One of the most fundamental principles of economics, demonstrated time and again across the globe, is that you cannot tax-and-spend your way to long term growth.  Faced with a similar financial crisis in the 90s, Japan desperately tried to stimulate their economy with massive government spending on public works programs.  The result was a "lost decade" of low-to-no growth and massive increases in their national debt.

 I fear that President Obama and the Democratic Congress have failed to learn the lessons of economic history.  The budget-busting "stimulus" bill passed by the Democrats is big on funding for pet projects and increased deficits, but short on ideas for getting the economy back on track. I deeply hope these decisions will be noted in our history books as footnotes and not the subject of entire chapters on how we have crippled our economy and made a bad situation worse. 

Going forward, under the President’s budget, our nation’s debt will more than double in 8 years, eventually climbing from $12.7 trillion to $23.1 trillion in 2019. It increases total spending to $3.9 trillion in 2009 -- or 27.7 percent of GDP -- the highest Federal spending has been as a share of GDP since World War II.  This budget increases non-defense appropriations by 9.3 percent in 2009 and makes our deficit 12.3 percent of our GDP.  Both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post described the President’s budget as "eye-popping."  This is not only change we can’t believe it, it’s change we can’t pay for. 

Regardless, I will continue to fight for common-sense policies that will create real, sustainable growth without saddling our children with debt they can’t afford.  I proudly supported budget alternatives that would have, among other things: spent $4.8 trillion less than the Democrats budget over 10 years, borrowed $3.6 billion less than the Obama budget over 10 years, created 2.1 million more jobs than the Democrats budget, and above all else would NOT raise taxes. 

There are millions of Americans who are looking for work, concerned about whether they will have a job tomorrow, struggling to meet tuition payments and monthly utility bills, and doubtful that their homes will be worth a fraction of what they originally mortgaged it for.   I know that words from politicians in Washington don’t help folks or comfort them in their challenges, but our actions can.  It is time for our actions to be ones that help, not hinder, our economy and the American taxpayer.