Democrats’ Biggest Problem Is Spending, Not Gridlock

Gridlock may be an issue, but spending is where the Democrats are in real trouble.

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By Doug Heye, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

In the interest of participatory debate, I must disagree with Peter Roff.

Indecision regarding Afghanistan is a problem President Barack Obama is battling, at least in perception. But voters still want the president to make the right decision and to follow through on his oft-repeated campaign pledge to listen to the generals on the ground. Should he do so, or come up with a proposal the generals find to be a workable solution, the timing of such a decision becomes less a factor and the president may well earn bipartisan praise. (Though I agree, time is running out.)

And while gridlock demonstrates the difficulties of governing, the stimulus bill was signed into law and Obamacare passed the House. Given what we've seen so far this year, voters may actually want more gridlock. The 39 Democrats who defied Speaker Nancy Pelosi and voted against the healthcare reform bill didn't do so because of worries about gridlock, they did so precisely because their constituents wanted it stopped.

No, the Democratic Party has a larger problem. It's called spending.

We have a $1.4 trillion deficit, a record. Deficit spending in October was $176.4 billion, also record. And what legislation has Congress moved forward? Spending hand over fist—a $3.6 trillion budget, a $787 billion stimulus bill to "save jobs" the administration refuses to define (perhaps that's because a saved job is like seeing a unicorn—nice to talk about, but impossible to prove) and a massive government takeover of our healthcare system filled with new taxes and mandates that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost us another $871 billion (not to mention the increase to insurance premiums).

In the coming year, unemployment may rise or fall. Surely, everyone wants that number to fall. And, by the same token, President Obama may make correct decisions that give us measurable progress in Afghanistan and Iraq that save American lives, as we also all hope. But if there is one constant in politics, it is that Democrats will spend as much, and as quickly, as they can.

True, Republicans had their own problems with spending while in control, especially when there was a budget surplus. But in less than a year, Democrats have taken financial irresponsibility to new levels; they've "gone to 11," to borrow from Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel, and voters don't like it.

If Republicans want to succeed in the 2010 election cycle, they would do well to know these deficit and spending figures and repeat until they're blue in the face. And repeat and repeat and repeat.

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