Financial Literacy 101

    Last Wednesday, the House and Senate passed the Democratic Budget Conference Report, the non-binding budget for 2010. While this report is not gospel, it does provide the blueprint budget recommendations to the Appropriations Committee.

    In only 100 days, the new Democratic majority and the Obama Administration increased federal spending to nearly 28 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the highest level of spending since World War II. The budget recommendation also breathes new life into the death tax, as it was scheduled to be repealed in 2010. The resurrected death tax will now be one of the ways in which Congress and President Obama will collect approximately $1.4 trillion in additional taxes over the next decade. As they are spending too much and borrowing too much, clearly they will need to tax too much to pay for their out of control spending – which includes expanding entitlements by $1 trillion over the next decade, doubling the deficit and laying the groundwork to implement universal health care.

    It came as no surprise to me that the Democrats out of control spending continued through the passage of this report or that the Democrats didn’t favor the Republicans smaller scale alternative spending recommendations.

    What DID somewhat surprise me was that immediately after the House approved the budget report, the next item on the agenda was a resolution supporting the goals and ideals of financial literacy month. As part of this resolution for the month of April, one of the intents was to, "educate the public about the need for increased financial literacy for youth and adults in the United States."

    So to be clear, members of Congress had just approved an astronomical amount of spending for 2010, to follow up on the first 100 days of record-setting spending (remember TARP, the stimulus package, the Omnibus spending bill, etc.), and immediately following that they approved a resolution calling for "financial literacy." Does anyone else see the irony in these actions?

    Given no one in Washington seems to even be able to differentiate the difference between billions and trillions of dollars any more (forget about millions), and Lady Liberty’s credit cards are being maxed out without even the hint of a minimum down payment, it seems as though members of Congress and President Obama should be the first in line for this financial literacy education. This way, they can lead the American public by example, as opposed to saying, "do as I say, not as I do."

    U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) represents Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District.

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