by Amy Payne
On Pennsylvania Avenue, right near the end, there lived a President who wanted to spend.
He knew spending meant power, so hour by hour, he thought up more spends from his Washington tower.
“I’ll spend without limits; I’ll spend without blame! Raising taxes to pay—that’s the name of the game.”
Down the street, though, a House filled with thriftier folk had a budget to pass, or the country’d go broke. “We can’t spend all day; we’ve got bills to pay! Let’s keep deficits and higher taxes away.”
The Senate next door to the House just refused. “We don’t like your budget. We’ve got some bad news: The President says we can spend all we want, and we’ll simply raise taxes whenever we choose.”
So they spent and they spent and they borrowed some more. And when all that was spent, they spent same as before.
But not everyone thought the spending was nice. In the House and the Senate, some spenders thought twice. “We’ll cut down on spending. We have a bad feeling…” then—SMACK!—right on schedule, they hit the debt ceiling.
Then the President’s office, confronted with debt: “If it’s cuts they want now, then it’s cuts they shall get. We’ll threaten such cuts that NO one would take, and show them that cuts are not smart to make.”
“This will make Congress move. We’ll just float out a tester… broad, haphazard cuts that we’ll call the sequester.”
The Senate and even the House said, “Okay! That will motivate us to find a good way. We’ll figure this out and stave off those cuts—to allow them to happen, we’d have to be nuts.”
So the deadline was set, but the spending went on. A year and a half had soon come and gone. The House passed a budget; the Senate said no; the President very much enjoyed the show.
“Spend higher! Spend faster! Grow the welfare rolls! Soon, love for the spending will show up in the polls.” He even raised taxes, but it wasn’t enough—the levels of spending grew too fast to keep up.
“Don’t you mind the sequester,” he told Capitol Hill. “You said you would fix it, and I’m sure you will.”
But they could not agree on ways to cut spending, and before they knew it, the sequester was pending.
“Oh no!” they all cried. “We can’t let these cuts stand!”
And the President said, “WHO thought of this terrible plan?”
They didn’t remember his plan all along. He distracted them with his spending-cut song. Now he returned to save them from harm, and to keep them forgetting all but his charm.
So the President said with a glint in his eye, “You tried to cut spending. I saw how you tried. But it’s just too painful—I’m sure you can see. From the beginning, you should have listened to me.”
“I’ll save you all from the spend-cutters’ axes. You see, the solution is just to raise taxes.”
We don’t know yet how this story will end. Will Congress raise taxes and continue to spend? We need a balanced budget with smarter cuts—reforming entitlements will take guts.
Let the President know that we’re onto his plan. Share this story with as many people as you can.
Amy Payne is Assistant Director of Strategic Communications at The Heritage Foundation. In that capacity, Amy serves as Managing Editor of The Foundry, Heritage’s public policy news blog, as well as the “Morning Bell,” one of Washington’s most widely read and influential e-newsletters. This article first appeared on in The Foundry.