Did you know that, since the FY2000 budget, federal government spending has risen from just under $1.8 Trillion to more than $3.8 Trillion for FY2011? It’s okay if you didn’t, because Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) apparently doesn’t know it either.

This video is from a June 9, hearing of the House Budget Committee. Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA) appears to be trying to score rhetorical points. He wants to ‘smear’ conservatives who oppose new tax increases, by suggesting that it’s bad to favor only spending cuts in order to achieve a balanced budget. And Connolly apparently does not know that Congress actually has the power to make budget decisions. Instead, he seems to seek a reassurance from Fed Chairman Bernanke that no, Congress cannot cut spending.

Keep in mind that Connolly serves on the House Budget Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and yet can’t think of anything in the federal budget that might be either unnecessary, too costly, or inefficient.


CONNOLLY: I’m telling you, they don’t have an open mind. They have publicly expressed that they do not favor — you know, they’re all for deficit reduction as long as anything having to do with revenue is off the table. Can we get to serious deficit reduction — change that trajectory you talked about — if we eliminate half of the ledger sheet?


BERNANKE: Well, theoretically you could if you cut enough, but it would be very difficult to do that.


CONNOLLY: Is there enough spending to be cut?


BERNANKE: Of course! I mean … [laughs]


CONNOLLY: National defense, homeland security?


BERNANKE: That’s your judgment, that’s the Congress’ judgment. That’s not my judgment.

CONNOLLY: Ah. Um … it must be nice to be an economist.

[transcript provided by Ed Morrissey]


Connolly, of course, was trying to get Bernanke to say that tax increases are necessary, and that budget cuts won’t solve the problem of runaway deficits.  What Connolly can’t seem to wrap his head around is the concept that congressional spending is exactly what is causing those deficits to run away. Nor does he appear to comprehend that enacting new taxes and regulations in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930’s will cause yet further drops in tax revenues. In fact, Connolly is apparently under the impression that there isn’t enough spending going on, which makes one think that any new tax dollars raised won’t be going towards trimming the bottom line on the budget.

Alas, this is the state of our government these days. No matter what happens, Congress sees only one solution: that magical Keynesian elixir of more spending. Indeed, that’s their solution even when profligate spending is the problem.  In their view, not a nickel exists that you can spend better than your congressman. And heaven forfend someone should suggest that perhaps Congress should cut back. Didn’t you know, Congress doesn’t spend enough to make any cuts?

This November, Connolly will face off against Republican pick Keith Fimian to see who will represent Virginia’s 11th District. Fimian is running as a fiscal conservative who wants to take on Washington’s spend-thrift ways but, assuming he wins the election, only time will tell if he fills that role and does any better than our current representative. Yet, given that Connolly sits on the House Budget Committee and has no clue about any federal spending that might possibly be reined in, could Fimian actually be any worse?

Probably not.