The average low-information voter, who depends on getting his news from the FNM, is trembling in his shoes right now because the life-ending government shutdown he has heard so much about has finally arrived. How in the world can the United States possibly survive such a calamity?
But let’s get serious: Every reasonably well-informed individual with an IQ above 32 realizes that a government shutdown is not only not a bad thing, it’s actually a positive. Let’s face it, the only way to stop government spending and borrowing is to close shop. And, amazingly, when that happens (as it has 18 times in the past), the anti-Armageddon truth is that the average person is totally unaffected!
While the amount varies from month to month, the government brings in, on average, about $200 billion a month from (mostly unwilling) taxpayers and pays out, on average, about $20 billion in monthly interest charges. That’s a tenfold coverage.
Second, Social Security and Medicare are easily covered by government revenues each month, at least right now.
Third, there’s plenty of money available to meet our current military obligations (though we need a good debate about how much military we really need to properly defend our country).
Fourth, everything that’s left (about 30 percent of scheduled expenditures) can be prioritized, with the only question being who should make the decisions as to what goes at the top of the list and what goes at the bottom.
Former Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner once insisted that the notion of prioritizing payments is futile because the debt limit must be increased regardless of which spending path is adopted. He boldly stated that “there is no credible budget plan under which a debt-limit increase can be avoided.”
That, of course, is status quo thinking — and patently false. The truth is that there’s a very credible budget plan to avoid raising the debt ceiling. It’s called: CUT SPENDING! Politicians don’t want to hear about it, but if you cut spending enough, you don’t have to raise the debt ceiling one dime. And once that’s accomplished, a serious president should use his bully pulpit to pressure Congress into making serious budget cuts.
The best way to go about that is to subject all spending to the Goldwater Litmus Test: Is the proposed program or expenditure constitutional? Such a litmus test would make it possible to dramatically reduce taxes, borrowing, and fiat-money creation.
The United States now borrows more than 40 cents of every dollar it spends, so prioritizing payments without raising the debt ceiling would force the U.S. to cut about 40 percent of all government expenditures. Which is a good thing. When will some politician — any politician — have the courage to step forward and say so?
There’s no question that serious spending cuts would have painful implications for people in every walk of life — including military families, veterans, and government employees. This is a serious problem for politicians, because all of those people are voters. Realistically, the only way even well-intentioned politicians would have the courage to cut back on goodies to voters is if they were subject to term limits.
Military families’ and veterans’ obligations could be whittled down over a period of time by closing down half or more of our 700 overseas military bases and staying out of nation-building wars. For a fraction of current costs, we could bring our troops home and have them focus on defending our own porous borders rather than bombing, then rebuilding, countries on the other side of the globe, countries that have no interest in establishing a democratic form of government.
As to government employees, do you know anyone who would be unhappy with getting rid of as many “public servants” as possible? Let’s face it, the majority of these people work at jobs that produce nothing of value for American citizens.
Some elites argue that not paying for programs and employees already on the books is just as much of a default as not paying interest on the national debt. What they are really saying, in effect, is, “Even though we have to go deeper into debt to pay for these government programs, which assures that default is only a matter of time, we have no choice but to do so given the fact that we’ve already made those commitments to people.”
I would argue that if Congress passes unconstitutional legislation to implement unconstitutional programs, it is not your obligation to pay for them. On the contrary, it is Congress’ duty to repeal all such legislation, because, first and foremost, members of Congress made a commitment to voters that trumps all other commitments — the commitment to uphold the Constitution!
I wonder how many voters actually care about this little inconvenient truth. No Democrats, to be sure. But, sadly, probably a majority of Republicans are also unwilling to slow down the money spigot.
All this by way of saying that I continue to believe the United States will ultimately default on its debt obligations, regardless of what phony patchwork solutions Congress comes up with. The bottom line is that virtually no one is brave enough to name specific “entitlements” that should be cut.
The ruling class is simply playing politics in an effort to prolong the day of economic reckoning, a day when they are out of office and our children and grandchildren will be left holding the debt bag.
All this being said, we should never lose sight of the fact that our biggest problem is not the national debt. The national debt is just a symptom of a much broader underlying problem: America has lost its moral compass. Only an immoral people, after all, would continue to add more and more debt, knowing that it can never be repaid and that future generations will have to deal with the consequences.