TERRE HAUTE —
“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”
— P.J. O’Rourke
Watching the mainstream media and Washington politicians bamboozle voters into believing that a failure to raise the debt ceiling would constitute “default” confirms H.L. Mencken’s observation that no one ever went broke underestimating the IQ of the American electorate.
The big lie throughout this manufactured crisis has been the notion that if the debt ceiling was not raised we would be unable to pay our bond holders. Consider: Without a debt ceiling increase, 60 percent of spending would continue, and only about 5 percent of spending is needed to service our debt. Given the consequences, no president would refuse to honor our debt obligations so that spending in other areas could be boosted from 55 percent to 60 percent of current levels.
President Obama knew that refusing to honor our debt obligations would result in his becoming the Democrats’ Herbert Hoover and he wasn’t about to let that happen. Nevertheless, a tsunami of manufactured angst was created by Obama and the media regarding this matter. Instead of the media exposing this canard, they were complicit in hyping it. The money was there to pay the bond holders if the ceiling was not raised. (The point is not argumentative.)
I’m not suggesting that the ceiling shouldn’t have been raised, I’m merely pointing out that a failure to do so would not have resulted in “financial Armageddon” as Obama and the media claimed. It’s unseemly that our president should stoop to fear-mongering.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that Democrats could have raised the debt ceiling last year — sparing all of us this circus — when they controlled both houses of Congress. Instead, they chose to wait until the 11th hour and use Republicans for political cover. What’s more, our Democrat-controlled Senate has failed to propose a budget for the past 828 days. That is both irresponsible and unlawful. But that’s the sort of “leadership” we’ve come to expect from Washington. In fairness, President Obama did propose a budget earlier this year, but it was so expansive in its scope and spending measures that it was voted down by the Senate 97-0.
For all the liberal handwringing over the spending “cuts” that were promised in Sunday’s bipartisan deal, spending will continue to spiral out of control. Any time some politician claims that immediate spending cuts in a debt deal will harm the economy — ignore him. Why? Because in this bloated welfare state spending never goes down. Never. Compare President Obama’s budget with Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget. Granted, Ryan’s is a few trillion dollars lower than Obama’s over the next 10 years. But what do they both have in common? They both go up. Way up. As in roughly $40 to $45 trillion more.
Why is this the case? It’s because of something called the “current services baseline,” which includes population and inflation increases built into the budget. Entitlements have their own formulas and that’s why entitlement reform is crucial for our nation’s financial survival. So when you hear a politician tell you he’s cutting spending, he’s actually referring only to reducing the (growth) of spending. Rarely, if ever, do they actually reduce the (level) of spending.
Last Sunday’s budget deal promises to cut $2.4 trillion over the next decade. But the ratings agencies have warned Washington it must make $4 trillion in real spending cuts, over the midterm, or lose its triple-A credit rating. The question arises, since we’ve amassed over $14 trillion in actual debt and another $61 trillion in unfunded liabilities, why do we have a triple-A credit rating in the first place?
Suppose we do get a credit downgrade, what then? It’s instructive to note that in 2002, Japan was downgraded from AAA to AA and they can still borrow 10-year money for 1 percent. Not quite “the sky is falling” scenario that Obama and the media would have us believe, is it? One might argue that Japan can borrow cheaply because they buy their own bonds. (Japan has a much higher savings rate than America.) To which the correct response is: It’s time Americans sobered up and began acting as responsibly as the Japanese.
And then there’s taxes. President Obama’s liberal base is furious with him because Sunday’s budget deal didn’t impose higher taxes on “the rich” (i.e., married couples earning over $250,000 per year). Can someone explain to me how increasing taxes on successful people and small businesses (at this time) will strengthen our fragile economic recovery and reduce unemployment?
America is facing bankruptcy not because we are taxed too little, but because we spend too much. If the IRS were to confiscate 100 percent of all taxpayer income above $250,000 it would be enough to run our government for a whopping five months. To paraphrase Bill Clinton: It’s the spending, stupid.
All the talk of “default,” “downgrades,” and “raising the debt ceiling” is to ignore our central problem: spending. That’s what a responsible media and informed electorate should be focused on. Instead, the media allow politicians to deflect voters’ attention away from the real problem. Unless Americans force politicians (both Democrats and Republicans) to embark on a 12-step program to curb their fiscal nymphomania our debt crises will continue.
America’s failure to solve its spending addiction amounts to the most egregious example of generational theft in history. The attitude of baby boomers and their predecessors might be summed up thus: “Keep the federal goodies coming and stick the grandkids with the bill.” A message from today’s youth to boomers: “Pay your own goddamned taxes and take responsibility for your fiscal mess” is a slogan whose time has come and portends a new kind of class warfare.
Boomers will be the first generation in American history to bequeath a lower standard of living to the next generation. Which is about what one would expect from a generation that embraced sex, drugs and rock and roll while coining the infantile slogan: “If it feels good do it!”
— Reggie McConnell
TERRE HAUTE —
“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”
FLASHPOINT: Where Congress falls short, and where it doesn’t
At a public gathering the other day, someone asked me how I’d sum up my views on Congress. It was a good question because it forced me to step back from worrying about the current politics of Capitol Hill and take a longer view.
Flashpoint: President should stop Medicare Advantage cuts
Virtually all elected officials — Republicans and Democrats — share the goal of increasing access to affordable health insurance and helping families receive the best coverage to meet their specific needs.
FLASHPOINT: Restoring trust, respect in schools rests in fundamentals
A recent Harris poll of 2,250 adults reveals a troubling educational trend.
Flashpoint: Everyone would benefit from responsibly expanding health coverage for Hoosiers
A medical epidemic is one of the worst scenarios a hospital can face — when a significant portion of the population is suddenly struck with a life-threatening illness.
FLASHPOINT: Now imperiled, Indiana’s leadership helped launch biodiesel success story
There’s been a lot of talk about ethanol lately, and the policy — known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS — that introduced renewables into our nation’s fuels mix.
FLASHPOINT: Local control over the business personal property tax good option
I have a tremendous respect for Indiana’s local leaders.
FLASHPOINT: Did legislators place bad bet on Common Core?
A comedian once observed that the reason they call it “horse sense” is because horses don’t bet on people.
FLASHPOINT: Manufactured statistics, exaggerated claims make meth battle more difficult
Indiana has many societal problems. One of the most serious is the use of methamphetamine. Meth destroys families, ruins lives and costs taxpayers millions of dollars in law enforcement and meth cleanup efforts.
FLASHPOINT: Study dissects tough tax issues on business equipment, machinery
Indiana’s Legislature first got serious about eliminating personal property taxes in 1966, when Hoosiers approved a constitutional amendment separating taxes on property and personal property.
FLASHPOINT: Hold all the congrats for this U.S. Congress
Now that Congress has its immense, $1.1 trillion bipartisan funding bill in hand, Capitol Hill is breathing easier. They ended the specter of a government shutdown for the moment and funded the federal budget for most of the year. The media has been commending Congress for finally doing its job.
FLASHPOINT: State has obligation to crack down on youth sexual assault
Children have the right to be safe. Yet in Indiana, girls are more likely to be sexually assaulted than almost anywhere else in the country.
FLASHPOINT: Economic prosperity means strong businesses and vibrant communities
Whether you are talking about college graduates looking for a first job, older citizens who are deciding where they want to live as they age, or new parents deciding on the right place to raise a family, future Hoosiers can afford to be picky.
FLASHPOINT: Marriage ban contrary to U.S. law and Christian faith
Central Christian Church has been part of the Terre Haute community since 1841 and an Open and Affirming congregation since 2006.
FLASHPOINT: Different day — same story
Heading into the 2014 legislative session, the argument again is being made — in a tired and worn way — that Indiana’s laws controlling the sales of alcohol are outmoded, inconvenient and circumspect.
FLASHPOINT: What are government’s essential functions?
Here are some questions regarding the distressed reaction by some in local government to Gov. Pence’s stated intent to eliminate business personal property taxes.
FLASHPOINT: No need to expand access to alcohol in Indiana
I am a homegrown Hoosier businessman. The state of Indiana has granted me the privilege, and the responsibility, of selling alcohol.
FLASHPOINT: America’s major policy shift on Iran
In a recent address to the nation, President Barack Obama acknowledged Iran “has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community.” In the same speech the president vowed to “prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
FLASHPOINT: Dealing with hunger requires less rhetoric, more action
In November, millions of families in Indiana and across the nation saw their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits cut through a planned phase-out of a temporary increase in funding that originally took place during the 2009 recession.
FLASHPOINT: Getting right with history
I am ornery enough to never much worry about whether I am on the “right” side of history.
FLASHPOINT: Dogged journalism is a blessing, not a curse
Let’s start with the obvious: A democracy needs intelligence agencies. It needs to know what’s happening in the world — and understand the plans of allies and enemies — to keep the nation prepared and secure.
FLASHPOINT: Same-sex marriage battle not good for state’s future
For those who can still bear to look, Indiana’s unemployment rate remains stuck above 8 percent.
FLASHPOINT: A pledge to work together with respect, civility
Indiana’s students and schools have made great progress in recent years. According to the latest scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Indiana is improving at the second-fastest rate of any state in the country. We owe this progress to the hard work of our students, teachers and the parents and school reformers everywhere who have insisted that we hold ourselves to high standards.
FLASHPOINT: Putting children before politics
I very rarely write a response to an opinion article. However, when the title of the Indianapolis Star column says, “While Ritz, Board spar, children get hurt,” I feel compelled to clear the air.
FLASHPOINT: Prescription for Obamacare: delay employer mandates
An email I received from Daniel in Elkhart, Ind., summarizes the experience many Hoosiers are having with the recently launched Obamacare online health insurance marketplace:
FLASHPOINT: A common-sense Congress could strengthen our economy
My top priorities have always been to strengthen Indiana’s economy and to help create Hoosier jobs. We can all agree — Democrats and Republicans — that the recent government shutdown and the threat of failing to pay our nation’s bills were significant setbacks to this seemingly simple goal.
FLASHPOINT: How to improve the road ahead for our government
One of the more amazing spectacles in the days after the government shutdown ended was the obsession in Washington with who won and who lost in the showdown. Yes, the capital is focused on next year’s elections, but honestly! There was only one real loser, and that was the American people.
FLASHPOINT: Celebrating role of newspapers in protecting free speech
Where would we be as a nation without the freedom of speech?
FLASHPOINT: Hard-hitting ads are effective in preventing tobacco use, saving lives By
Reducing tobacco use is one of the most important things we can do to improve the health of Hoosiers. Education campaigns to alert of the dangers of tobacco use are critical, as are pointing them to resources to help them quit.
FLASHPOINT: A difficult decision to allow oil testing, drilling
Our current culture seems to tell us life’s struggle is all about good vs. evil and black-and-white decisions. The reality is that the hardest choices are those that aren’t clear cut. They’re the ones you can argue from either side but eventually must make based on only a slight edge. That is the kind of choice the Sisters of Providence had to make about whether to test for and drill for oil on our Mother House land.
FLASHPOINT: It’s time for an intervention
The American public has lost patience with Washington.
- More Flashpoint Headlines
- FLASHPOINT: Where Congress falls short, and where it doesn’t