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Good News Dallas
by Tom Pauken    Tue, Dec 6, 2005, 01:05 PM

Tom Pauken
On Monday, the Dallas Morning News ran a front page story by Robert Dodge entitled "Budget cuts may hit poor". Scott McCown is quoted extensively in Dodge’s article as decrying the attempt by some members of Congress to reduce the growth in spending on entitlements. McCown is the Judge who forced the "Robin Hood" school finance scheme on Texas when he was a state district judge in Travis County. He now heads up a liberal think tank in Austin called the Center for Public Policy Priorities. McCown blames the federal budget deficits not on spending increases, but on the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.

The problem with McCown’s analysis is that federal spending on the Medicaid and Food Stamps programs has exploded over the past four years. Medicaid spending is up nearly 50% since 2000 while the Wall St. Journal reports in Monday’s edition that the "federal government’s food stamps tab rose to $27 billion in 2004 from $17.1 billion in 2000." That’s nearly a 60% increase over the past four years. All that fiscal conservatives in the House like Jeb Hensarling are trying to do is slow down the growth in federal spending.

The U.S. budget deficit for fiscal year 2005 is $319 billion, and Congress is seeking to identify $35 billion in spending cuts to offset hurricane recovery costs associated with the Katrina disaster. Congressman Jeb Hensarling has it right when he says it is necessary to slow down spending on entitlement programs which account for two-thirds of the federal budge. The "guns and butter" spending polices of the Administration and the Congress over the past four years are reminiscent of the spending excesses of the Lyndon Johnson Administration in the late 1960s. The American economy paid a heavy price for those excesses in the 1970s. Rep. Hensarling and other fiscal conservatives like him in Congress should be praised – not condemned by the likes of Scott McCown – for trying to rein in an out-of control federal budget.

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