Opinion: ‘It’s been a cringe-worthy last several days’

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance shares his thoughts on what the past week has been like for a Conservative living in Washington state

If you’re a Conservative living in the state of Washington, I don’t need to tell you that this hasn’t been a good week to read the news. Specifically, if you’re like me in that you like to keep as much of the money you earn as possible, rather than having it taken from you by your elected officials, it’s been a cringe-worthy last several days.

Between Sunday’s end of the 2021 session of the Washington State Legislature and President Joe Biden’s Wednesday address to a joint session of Congress, I’ve had more than enough of Liberal Democrats taking victory laps for their ability to raise our taxes and spend our money both at the state and the federal level.

On occasion, I share with you the foundational reason why I consider myself a Conservative. For me, it’s because I want a smaller, lesser-intrusive government. I don’t subscribe to the theory that the government knows best how we should live our lives or spend our money. In fact, I believe strongly that, collectively, our lawmakers and government officials generally have a very poor idea of how we should live our lives and they are extremely poor stewards of our tax dollars.

After President Biden addressed Congress, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (Republican, 3rd District) issued a statement that pretty much summed up the reaction of people with ideological beliefs similar to my own.

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler statement:

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler

“The goals President Biden outlined like improved roads, better internet for rural folks, more accessible child care are worthy and they’re items I’ve pushed for since I got to Congress, but as the President proposes another massive new increase in federal spending, we have to be honest about the consequences.

“To review the past year: Americans needed urgent help last March, so Congress passed a $2.2 trillion aid bill. And then last December, when people were still hurting, we authorized another $900 billion in additional aid. And when Biden became president, Congress passed another COVID aid bill that cost another $1.9 trillion. Since then, Biden unveiled an infrastructure package with a $2.3 trillion price tag. And tonight, he unveiled a new child care bill that includes tax hikes and costs $1.8 trillion. That’s roughly $9.3 trillion in new spending on top of the roughly $4.8 trillion the federal government already shells out, all in a little more than a year. 

“When we print and spend so much new money so quickly, we risk creating the sort of massive inflation we haven’t seen in this country in four decades and budget deficits on a scale we’ve never seen. Politicians and the Federal Reserve fight deficits and inflation by raising taxes and raising interest rates, which stifle economic growth and can send us into a recession or even a depression. Politicians have to slow down their spending spree before they do major damage to our jobs and our kids’ futures.”

I’m certainly not an experienced economist qualified to detail the impacts of the spending that Herrera Beutler detailed. However I don’t think you have to be in order to imagine that there are going to be serious impacts on our future economy. When we go through a period like this when our government virtually prints money to bail us out of hard times, it’s going to have negative consequences.

In addition to that, we all know our own situations and the circumstances of those close to us that have resulted due to the current pandemic. I know people who have needed the stimulus checks and the unemployment benefits with the government kicker and I am so thankful that those people have received the hand up they needed. However, the overwhelming majority of those I know who have received the stimulus checks, were mostly reluctant to accept them because they had not been impacted by the pandemic financially. In addition to that, the reports of how much pork spending that was attached to the stimulus packages is downright frightening.

In the state of Washington, where we have a Democrat governor and Democrat control in both the House and the Senate, the news was the same. Our lawmakers’ answer to whatever ails us is for the government to keep more of our money in order to spend as they see fit. I would rather they leave it with us, the citizens, to make those decisions ourselves.

Rep. Vicki Kraft (Republican, 17th District) fights for fiscal responsibility as much as any legislator I know. Here’s what Kraft had to say after the legislative session ended Sunday:

Rep. Vicki Kraft statement:

“Thankfully we’re done so no more taxes, fees, regulations, or harmful reforms can be passed. This was by far THE most difficult session I’ve experienced with all the challenging bills and budgets that passed.

Rep. Vicki Kraft
Rep. Vicki Kraft

“One of the final bills that passed today was the Democrat’s Operating Budget totaling almost $59 Billion. Spending increased by $7 Billion, a 13.6% increase over the ‘19-‘21 budget. I’m pretty sure most people did not get a 13.6% raise, especially given the Covid-19 shutdowns that we’ve been in for over a year.

“To me that was the worst thing about this session (besides increased taxes), is the fact the governor’s emergency powers are still in effect as they were when we started session. I introduced HB 1381 to address this, authored a letter with House and Senate Republican members signed on requesting legislative action on this issue, and talked about the need for checks and balances to be reinstated extensively in the media before and during session.’’

The only silver lining that Kraft could cling to from the recently completed session was that Conservative Republicans kept even more damage from being done.

“On a more positive note, there were several bad bills the House Republicans Caucus stopped this session.

“The bad bills the HRC stopped include:

• HB 1227 and SB 5078 which would greatly infringe on your 2nd Amendment rights.

• Universal Health Care which costs most everyone more, access to quality and timely care decreases, and it’s socialism.

• Climate.change was NOT included as a required priority item in the Growth Management Act planning requirements.

• HB 1076 Qui Tam bill which would’ve opened up the door wide for small businesses to be sued with very little protection against frivolous lawsuits.

• No state bank.

“We fought hard. There were a lot of bad bills that passed, some we stopped. The fight is not over, just this legislative session.’’

It reminds me of the time that I lost my bank debit card. In the few hours before I realized it and froze all activity on the card, the person who found it had already made a half dozen or so purchases. Naturally, my bank took care of everything, but I was thankful they hadn’t had time to do more significant damage.

It’s pretty sad when the best thing we can say about the elected officials who control our state’s finances, is that they didn’t do more damage. There will be a significant number of Clark County families who are going to be financially harmed by what was passed by the 2021 legislature. The carbon tax and cap and trade bills come to mind as the top two harmful laws.

It would have been nice if they had actually cut taxes and eased the tax burden on local families and small businesses. But that was obviously not the case this year.

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