For the Common Good

Recently, the White House announced that this year’s federal budget deficit would be $296 billion. Believe it or not, that was taken as good news: Earlier projections had pegged the deficit as high as $425 billion. Next year, the deficit is predicted to rise to $339 billion. If we continue this way, we will be guilty of, in George Washington’s words, “ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden of which we ourselves ought to bear.” Fortunately, my friend Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia (R), one of the most conscientious politicians I know, has a proposal that can help save us from that folly if we are willing to listen. A major cause of the ballooning deficits and runaway spending has nothing to do with policy or budget priorities; it’s the result of a dysfunctional political system. Ideological gridlock, the division between “red” and “blue,” have left us with little sense of an overarching common good. Nowhere is this more visible than on Capitol Hill. I cannot remember a time when “dog eat dog” was more the rule than today. Without a rallying point or sense of “let’s do what’s right for the country,” the order of the day has become “take care of yourself.” For lawmakers, that means “protect your incumbency.” And the easiest way for them to do this is to spend money: on entitlements, pet projects, and anything that “brings home the bacon.” And then there’s the scandal of earmarks. $47 billion last year slipped into bills by powerful congressmen working under pressure from powerful lobbyists all outside the budget and without debate. The right solution, of course, is for Congress to summon the courage to stop this; but since that’s not happening, the next-best solution is for somebody with courage to yell “halt!” And who better than a man whose courage on matters like human rights is so well known as Frank Wolf? Wolf proposes the creation of what he calls the “SAFE Commission.” SAFE stands for “Save America’s Future Economy.” The commission, modeled on the military base-closing commission, would be comprised of “men and women who are more committed to their country than they are to their political party . . . ” The commission would review entitlements, benefits, patterns in savings, insurance for retirement, tax policies—everything. As Wolf says, “Everything must be on the table.” His hope is that the commission will help start a badly needed “national dialogue” about our priorities. Following this review, the commission would issue a report and, more importantly, a “legislative package to implement [its] recommendations.” As with the base-closing commission, Congress can only vote it up or down. Lobbyists can work to defeat it, but they can’t change provisions to benefit their clients. This will force Congress to straighten out the mess. Given what’s at stake, I consider this proposal one of the most important bills before Congress. So I hope you will call your congressman and senators and urge them to support the SAFE commission legislation. As George Washington would tell us, it’s the minimum we owe to posterity. Take action: Please call your congressman and two senators and urge them to support Rep. Frank Wolf’s SAFE commission bill. The Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.
For Further Reading and Information
Please help support the Christian worldview ministry of BreakPoint by donating online today or calling 1-877-322-5527. Stuart M. Butler, “The Wolf SAFE Commission Act: A Chance to Get the Budget Back on Track,” Heritage Foundation, 14 July 2006. Frank Wolf, “Statement of Rep. Frank Wolf on Introduction of SAFE Commission Legislation,” 7 June 2006. Andrew Taylor, “U.S. Deficit Estimate Drops to $296B,” Associated Press, 11 July 2006. BreakPoint Commentary No. 060501, “Empty Monuments to Human Ego: The Scandal of Congressional ‘Earmarking’.” BreakPoint Commentary No. 060327, “Ethics? Who Needs Ethics?: Why We Need the Line-Item Veto.” “Red and Blue America”—Chuck Colson’s speech (2005) at the Council for National Policy on political divisions in America and how Christians should stand for truth in the public square.


Chuck Colson



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