By Allen Alley
Dear President Obama:
We welcome you to Oregon. We’re grateful you’re coming here to highlight Intel, one of the bright economic stars in our state.
While you’re here, we hope you’ll speak to the question that’s on most everyone’s mind: Did you listen? Are you serious about reforming the federal budget?
At Intel, you’ll likely be standing next to Gov. John Kitzhaber, who very recently released a budget for Oregon that for the first time in many years bases state spending on existing taxes and fees, not some mythical “current service level.” The governor’s budget has raised the ire of many in his own party and in state government, but it’s a good first step. We in Oregon now need to work to deliver improved government services for lower cost and roll back the 50 percent increase in state spending we’ve experienced in the last four years.
Mr. President, when we look at your budget proposal, we don’t see the same restraint. Put simply, the budget you released was not what the American people voted for in the historic 2010 election, which resulted in the biggest mathematical change in the makeup of the U.S. House since 1938.
Mr. President, it doesn’t appear as if you listened.
Here’s what the American people said in the 2010 election:
They said “stop the spending.” But your budget plans for $3.8 trillion in federal spending, which represents more than 25 percent of all of the goods and services produced in our nation. That’s the highest figure since World War II, and more than 5 percentage points higher than when Bill Clinton was in office.
I couldn’t help notice that with your proposed budget, federal tax receipts are forecast to rise 65 percent over the next three years. The shocking thing is that even if spending was to be held flat from 2012 until 2015, your budget would still run a deficit. Until we get focused on creating an environment conducive to private-sector career creation, we simply cannot grow our way out of this.
Voters said they don’t want higher taxes. But according to Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, your budget has $1.6 trillion in new taxes. How can we be proposing significant tax increases when the American economy hasn’t grown in real terms in more than three years?
The American people said they wanted less debt. The current national debt of $14 trillion already represents more than $100,000 of debt for every single U.S. taxpayer. But your budget calls for a $1.6 trillion deficit in 2012, an additional $11,500 for each of us. This is on top of trillion-dollar-plus deficits in each of your first two years. You’re proposing that we continue to borrow 40 cents of every dollar that the federal government spends. This debt threatens our economy, our jobs and our financial viability as a nation.
I remember a generation ago, when the nation’s editorial writers went crazy when President Ronald Reagan ran deficits less than half this size to pay for his arms build-up to win the Cold War. But back then we got something for our money. Winning the Cold War was a tangible achievement.
What have we accomplished today with all this debt? We’ve simply made America less competitive in the global marketplace, and we’ve put off the day of reckoning, which will be even more severe tomorrow than it is today.
In my high-tech company, we had to adapt to the intense competitive pressure that emerged in the last decade from Asia. It was a matter of survival: adapt or die.
The fast pace of global competitiveness also requires our government to adapt. It’s possible to deliver better service at lower cost. Global American businesses like Intel are doing it every day. We must apply the same American ingenuity, creativeness and competitiveness to reform government.
Mr. President, we cannot procrastinate, because China, India, Brazil and the rest of the world are not waiting for us.
Allen Alley is chairman of the Oregon Republican Party and founder of Pixelworks.