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EDITORIAL: Taxpayer rights: GOP rediscovering frugal practices
[March 29, 2007]

EDITORIAL: Taxpayer rights: GOP rediscovering frugal practices

(Daily Oklahoman, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Mar. 29--It's good to hear Republicans talking like -- well, Republicans again.

At some point during 12 years running Congress, the GOP lost its way on fiscal matters. Spending rose and budget earmarks multiplied. From their (minority) vantage point, a number of Republicans now are advocating a return to the conservative spending principles that made them the majority once, and might again. In a recent article for The Wall Street Journal, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas wrote that conservative Republicans will push an "American Taxpayer Bill of Rights" to counter a federal budget he and others think is out of control. Hensarling, chairman of the Republicans Study Committee, said Washington now spends $23,000 per household, up more than $7,000 in the past five years. With expected increases in Social Security and Medicare spending, "The next generation will face a choice between two evils -- a crushing tax burden that is double what we pay today, or a federal government that consists entirely of entitlement programs."

Taxpayers are entitled to a government that doesn't outgrow their ability to pay for it, a ban on spending Social Security funds for things other than Social Security, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and a fairer, simpler tax code, Hensarling wrote.

Conservatives want an end to budget earmarks, including special projects slipped into legislation reports after a bill has passed. The Social Security firewall would end the bipartisan practice of using the entitlement's trust fund to pay for other programs, masking the true size of the deficit. Tax code reform is needed because the current code is complicated enough that 60 percent of Americans pay someone else to prepare their tax returns.

All are good proposals that face tough sledding in the new Democratic Congress. While it's too bad the GOP didn't pass them while it was in charge, we're glad Republicans' time in the political "wilderness" is renewing their focus.

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