The federal government's Financial Protection Bureau is instructing Americans to avoid debt this holiday season by setting a budget and sticking to it. Great advice. Also hilarious given the source.
No one can take issue with the substance of the advice published by the taxpayer-funded Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. However, I do wish the federal government was aware of its own hypocrisy in playing budget sage. Washington is hardly the place from which hardworking citizens should be seeking budget advice.
For three and a half years, Washington has operated without a budget to map out how it spends your money. This is not for lack of trying on the part of Republicans in the House of Representatives. Every year, we crunched numbers and subjected ourselves to criticism by taking tough stands on spending priorities. But every budget we passed during this 1300-day span stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate, even though that chamber has not once presented a spending proposal of its own. Furthermore, President Obama's budget, which would entrench Washington's unsustainable habits of overspending while ignoring costly entitlement reforms, has not found a single vote of support in either house.
With neither strong financial leadership from the Executive, nor a roadmap for fiscal solvency guiding the ship of state, Washington has unsurprisingly just capped its fourth consecutive fiscal year of spending $1,000,000,000,000 more than it takes in. And the sobering fact in all of this is that while government spending has only increased, tax revenue today is roughly equal to what it was in 2006.
The rapid rise in national debt, stemming from wasteful "stimulus" expenditures, bank bailouts, and rapidly growing entitlement bills (read more on that in my short column Defending Medicare for Future Generations), has brought us to where we are today -- staring down a steep fiscal cliff of Washington's own making.
So what do we take from the Financial Protection Bureau's advice to create a holiday spending plan, keep track of what you spend, avoid impulse purchases, and keep those troublesome credit cards at home? Simply this: do as Washington says, not as it does.
There is certainly no end to the irony in Washington.