Monday, September 3, 2001

Week of 09/03/2001

The Elusive Budget Snipe Hunt
- by David Matthews 2

"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics." - Thomas Sowell

When I was out camping as a kid, there used to be this little event that everyone took part in called the "Snipe Hunt". That was when we would roam in the woods in the middle of the night, carrying sticks and flashlights, and try to find this little bird called the "Snipe". These birds were night creatures, so supposedly when we shined the flashlight on them, they would be paralyzed. Then we would hit the bird with a stick to knock it out and put it in the bag that we’d carry with us.

We would never find even one of those birds. Instead, after a couple of hours of us kids slogging around in the woods, some adult would be hiding in the bushes for us to pass on by, scaring the crap out of us when we’d least expect it.

The truth was, there was no such bird called the "Snipe." The hunt was just a hoax to keep us kids busy and wear us down for two hours before going to sleep. Of course, I always seemed to sleep more soundly after going out on such a trek. And perhaps that was just the point of the game all along.

Watching the bitch-and-cry routine going on by members of Congress over the federal budget, I’m getting that same feeling as I did when going on that last "Snipe hunt".

After spending money like there was no tomorrow, members of Congress are now complaining about this mythical thing called the "budget surplus", and how it is shrinking. That in and of itself is a falsehood, since there really IS no such thing as a budget surplus in the federal government. Every tax dollar collected is spent, one way or another. The only "surplus" that exists is on paper.

But they’re still crying for it. And, as expected, the Democrats now want to put the brakes on President Bush’s tax cut program. They didn’t even wait for the ink to dry on the tax rebate checks before claiming that the whole tax cut program, rebates and all, was shrinking "the surplus".

So how do you shrink something that only exists on paper?

Let’s get brutally honest here… the mythical tax surplus only came into existence, even on paper, because the federal government did not take into account the influx of money being made on Wall Street during the Bill Clinton regime. Every time the markets rose and fell, brokers would get paid, and Uncle Sam would get his cut through the luxury taxes paid on every stock that was either bought or sold. As long as the markets were unstable, and there was steady growth in the business sector, there would be a huge influx of tax money.

But there was no actual "surplus" because the tax dollars that came in were being spent faster than you could say "pork barrel programs." The money that came in went to help supplement the failed Ponzi scheme called Social Security. It went to help pay off the huge federal debt, which is still being measured with more zeros than a Pauly Shore fan club. And it went to pay for all of those extra pork programs that Congress suddenly found a "need" for. After all, there was plenty of money to spend now that there was a "surplus", right?

So ask yourself what would happen if the economy that sustains that tax income went to crap, and the spending gets even worse than before, what would happen to any so-called "surplus"? Well that would be pretty much a no-brainer. Any "surplus", even on paper, would go down.

Oh, and speaking of pork programs, how about that little junket trip the Democrats took to Europe this past July? The New York Post estimates that we the taxpayers footed about $250,000 for nine members of Congress, their spouses, and members of their staff on a nine-day tour through Brussels, Berlin, Moscow, and London! And they didn’t fly cheap either! They flew first-class on a custom-designed Navy C-32 jet, complete with a chocolate mousse tower, filet mignon, and chicken stuffed with mushrooms. No crappy bag of trail mix for these folks! They also stayed at the best hotels while in Europe… on our dime, of course… and even took in the Bolshoi Ballet and the Wimbledon tennis championships.

Oh yes, such financially minded folk, these Democrats!

Well, I guess that we should be thankful that Congressman Dick Gebhardt only took EIGHT of his congressional buddies, and their respective entourages, over to Europe on our dime. He could have invited even more. I mean, WHO WOULDN’T want to go see the Bolshoi Ballet and fly first-class on a VIP jet loaded with a chocolate mousse tower? You certainly aren’t going to get those kinds of accommodations flying on Delta!

So it makes one wonder… if the Democrats are such spendaholics, why are they now fretting over a mythical budget surplus?

The answer is publicity. The Democrats don’t want people to think that "Junior" has somehow "saved" the economy through his idea of a tax cut. That would dispel the whole Democratic myth that you can tax people into prosperity.

Plus, the Democrats have been fighting giving back ANY tax money tooth-and-nail. They think that the money is theirs to do with as they please, and they will be damned if they will let anyone give that money back to the taxpayers! Oh yes, they know that the tax money is really ours. Why else would they be so gung-ho about spending money like there was no tomorrow?

So the Democrats are playing this little mind control game, trying to convince the public that this mythical "surplus" is shrinking, so they can pretend to be the great budget "saviors" that they never were. And all the while, they’re busy spending every federal penny that they can get their greedy, grubby, pork-laden hooves on. It’s pathetic!

Look, if the Democrats were serious about being budget hawks, they would be the first to cut spending, not increase it! They wouldn’t be trying to sneak in every pork project they can. They’d learn to say "NO" to those special interest groups. And they sure as hell wouldn’t be jet setting off on European vacations at the government’s expense. They’d take Delta like the rest of us, paid for with their own money, not ours!

The ugly truth is that this is just the adult’s version of the great snipe hunt, except played with numbers instead of flashlights and sticks. We’re once again being led through the woods, wondering when we’d ever find that elusive creature, and hoping this year we’d actually find the bird called "surplus" and not some adult popping out of the bushes screaming "SNIPE! SNIPE! SNIPE!"

It would almost be comical… if it weren’t being played with OUR money.

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