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Clear hypocrisy

February 19, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.

Dear editor:

In a Tuesday Sentinel-Record article, Congressman Bruce Westerman made his hypocrisy clear when it comes to our national debt and deficit. While Westerman claimed to vote "as a fiscal conservative" when he voted against last week's bipartisan budget agreement, he also voted in December to add $1.5 trillion to the debt in unpaid tax cuts.

What is more frustrating than Westerman's hypocrisy is his obliviousness to it. He stated that "the only way you pay for public debt is through taxes, and instead of us paying for it now, we're forcing that on future generations." When you are $20 trillion in the hole and you vote to add $1.5 trillion more, you are passing that burden on to my generation and my kids' generation.

I had a chance to ask Westerman about his decision to support unpaid tax cuts at his Monday coffee event. He believes that rather than adding to the debt, the tax cuts will pay for themselves by spurring enough economic growth.

Aside from having a spotty historical record, a few factors cast serious doubt on Westerman's argument. If we were emerging from a recession and unemployment was high, the stimulative potential of these unpaid tax cuts might be more plausible. But that's not where we're at today -- over the last nine years the economy has recovered and unemployment is about as low as it goes. While there are certainly people who dropped out of the workforce or are underemployed, it is a far cry from the double digit unemployment rates of the 2007-2009 recession.

Westerman actually poked a hole in his own argument when he spoke at the coffee event. He told the audience that many business owners have relayed to him that they would like to expand and grow, but they are having trouble finding people to hire. Tax cuts can't drive growth if the workforce isn't there to support it.

I hope that it turns out that Westerman was right and we see significant growth for the country. But regardless of how things turn out, his reasoning in supporting these unpaid tax cuts can hardly be considered "conservative" -- it's more like wishful thinking. A true conservative approach would have thought not just about what might happen in a rosy scenario, but would have also factored in the possibility of the status quo, or worse yet, an economic downturn (which could easily be caused by future rising interest rates, a new war in any of the many hot spots around the globe, a trade war or just some bad luck).

These votes are history now, so if I could leave Westerman with one request, it would be that as he considers issues in the future, he looks beyond just ideological talking points. He studied engineering and has a master's from Yale -- he's clearly an intelligent person who is capable of that. But major policy issues are filled with nuances that don't fall neatly along Republican or Democratic lines and we need leaders that are willing to think critically and not just be another follower.

Chris Cannon

Hot Springs

Editorial on 02/19/2018

Print Headline: Clear hypocrisy


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