All the Republicans' Fault
by Anthony Gregory: Some
of My Favorite Public Servants
If the debt
limit is once again raised, guaranteeing more crazed deficit spending
regardless of any promises accompanying the deal, blame should fall
squarely on the Republicans.
The GOP controls
the House of Representatives. They command the federal purse strings.
Nothing can force them to raise the debt ceiling. There is no justification
for raising it under any circumstances. Default is a perfectly valid
option, discouraging lenders from continuing to enable Washington's
gluttonous and destructive spending. Or the government can simply
cut $1.6 trillion for the next fiscal year and operate according
to its revenues.
The House Republicans
can easily tell Obama: "We refuse to raise the debt ceiling. Period.
Now let's sit down and talk about what to cut." And no matter what
the president does, the House leadership can refuse to pay for his
expensive programs. It is that simple.
the Republicans would need to propose real spending cuts – not tens
of billions or even hundreds of billions but over a trillion. The
U.S. could go back to its penny-pinching
budget of 2002. You know, back in the horse-and-buggy days of
nine years ago, when the federal government remarkably managed to
survive on a mere two trillion annually.
be done. Or the Republicans could say: "Let's slash all military-related
spending by half, means-test Social Security and Medicare, cut the
bureaucracy of every single department by 50%. It's either that
or nothing. We refuse to vote to raise the debt limit."
But this will
not happen, because the Republicans have absolutely no interest
in cutting government. These are the clowns who nearly doubled it
when they had the presidency in the 1980s and increased it by over
half during the Bush years. They love big government about as much
as the Democrats.
How else can
we explain their failure simply to refuse to increase the debt limit?
They won the 2010 midterm elections on an anti-government mandate.
At least, that's what they claim. Indeed, a
new Gallup poll indicates significant public support against
raising the debt limit: "Despite agreement among leaders of both
sides of the political aisle in Washington that raising the U.S.
debt ceiling is necessary, more Americans want their member of Congress
to vote against such a bill than for it, 42% vs. 22%, while one-third
could marshal this public opposition to business as usual for a
major political payoff, but instead they agree with the Democrats
that the limit must be raised or else hell will break loose. In
the end their major interest is in advancing the power and size
of the state. As with the TARP bailout, they will ultimately demonstrate
neither the will nor desire to stand with the public against fiscal
insanity. Instead, we get the same old nonsense: Promises to balance
the budget years from now, which has no relevance because Congress
can only determine one year's spending at a time.
the Republican trick this time around is "Cut, Cap, and Balance."
Lew Rockwell notes, when Ron Paul, libertarians, or regular
people talk about "cuts," they mean actual reductions in the budget
compared to last year. Is this what most Republicans mean when they
sign onto this? It's impossible to trust them.
substance of this scheme. We are to believe that some petty cuts
and "enforceable" caps on future spending, combined with a Balanced
Budget Amendment, are going to stop a catastrophe that has been
in the making for decades, one that doesn't even touch on the many
trillions in unfunded liabilities that will come to the forefront
in future generations. Meanwhile, the
bloated and growing military budget won't be touched at all.
Budget Amendment is actually a bad idea. It is a potential excuse
to raise taxes, despite any requirement of supermajorities needed
to do it, and something that can't be passed without support from
three-fourths of the state legislatures anyway. How can something
contingent upon such a major process be a bargaining demand for
a debt ceiling that has to be raised in the next couple weeks? This
is all a smokescreen.
ago, Congress thoroughly debated this stuff. It was clear the trainwreck
would come. The Democrats did nothing. The Republicans did nothing.
The GOP had Congress in the 1990s and did nothing. They had the
presidency and Congress for a few years and again did nothing.
not accurate. When the Republicans ran the whole show they did plenty
– way too much. After years of pleading for a chance to run the
White House and Congress, they proved themselves spendthrifts across
the board. Even before the excuse of 9/11, the Bush administration
was readying its multi-trillion-dollar expansion of Medicare and
vast expansion of the Department of Education. Under Bush, the Republicans
voted to raise the debt limit over a dozen times. To say Republicans
spend money like drunken sailors insults sailors and greatly exaggerates
the effect of alcohol on financial judgment.
At least we
are seeing the myth of gridlock, one of the last fallacies of democratic
politics that libertarians tend to believe, come unglued. Eventually
the two sides will come to a deal that will be bad for every normal
American, concocted with one purpose alone: to give politicians
on both sides of the aisle a way to win votes from their constituents.
This economic crisis that should turn everyone away from electoral
politics altogether and encourage a mass exodus from both parties
will instead be spun to excite the base of both parties. From the
deep state's point of view, higher voter turnout and strengthened
partisan loyalties, along with more celebration for the prospect
of partisan cooperation to move the country forward, are the best
possible outcomes of a financial calamity that should instead turn
all of society against the state.
Even if the
Republicans were to draw a line in the sand and refuse to raise
the limit while demanding a trillion and a half in cuts, it would
be too little, too late, and they would not deserve the support
of anyone seriously interested in limited government. But they won't
even do that.
Don't be distracted
by Republican schemes and sleights of hand. They are not victims
of an unstoppable Democratic establishment or a public opposed to
cutting spending. Their talk about a debt ceiling compromise attached
to some meaningless vows to cut spending in the future should be
dismissed outright. They need only to refuse to raise the debt limit
and go from there. No matter what happens, they run the House of
Representatives and could stop the spending any time they want.
Any continuation of the unspeakable profligacy that has defined
the Obama era must be blamed on the Republicans.
Gregory [send him mail]
is research editor at the Independent
lives in Oakland, California. See his
webpage for more articles and personal information.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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