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Who Shut Down the Government? Or, How Thomas Sowell Just Totally Exposed the GOP

October 11, 2013


    The sheer fiscal insanity and spineless leadership that infects Washington is only exacerbated by the American people’s defense of these thugs based upon their team colors. When will the American people realize that they themselves are the butt of a bad joke?

    by Jerry Robinson

    Amid the recent U.S. government shutdown, both political parties have been refining their talking points in an effort to gain public support for their positions.

    As usual, the political theater has led to a new and obnoxious blame game. The Democrats point their finger at the House Republicans citing their obsession with defunding Obamacare and their failure to pass a “clean” continuing resolution (spending bill) as the reason for the partial government shutdown.

    Meanwhile, House Republicans have fired back by highlighting the “unfairness” of Obamacare and claiming the new law will bankrupt America.

    And, in typical fashion, those who still choose to believe the ridiculous words gushing out of the mouths of political leaders from both sides of the aisle have come out swinging for their respective party.

    Quick Disclaimer: Due to the politically hostile nature of our culture, I must regularly remind our readership of my political atheism to avoid the inevitable buckets of hate mail. So, here’s my disclaimer once again: While I have little sympathy for either party, I do admit that I find myself repulsed by many of the policies promoted by the Democrats. However, it is the doublespeak of the Republican party that provides me with the highest entertainment value. I compare my interest in the Washington political machine with that of a bad car wreck. Rubberneckers slow down as they drive by a massive car accident. We don’t want to look, but we can’t help ourselves. While I know this is a crude comparison, it is fitting in so many ways. Now, back to the article…

    The political wrangling in Washington has crippled the democratic process. Years of gargantuan spending levels on the “warfare and welfare” state by both political parties have driven our nation to the edge of financial insolvency. And it is getting worse, not better, by the day.

    Of course, neither party appears interested in taking responsibility for the fiscal train wreck that awaits America. Instead, as Rome burns, our elected officials engage in intellectual jousting matches cleverly designed to cast all blame on their opponents.

    One recent example of the political blame game comes from one of the political writers that I have admired for years: Thomas Sowell.

    In a recent article entitled, Who Shut Down the Government?, Sowell applies his mostly clear-eyed analysis to sorting out the facts of the current government shutdown debacle.

    “Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans. There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.”

    This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.”

    Sowell is absolutely correct. Republicans did indeed vote to spend “all of the money required to keep all government activities going…

    Republicans voted to keep giving money to:

    • The Department of Homeland Security, and its bogus “security theatrics” including the $30,000+ annual salaries for every single TSA goon that gropes grandma
    • The National Security Agency, along with its vast domestic surveillance capabilities that has turned America into a police state
    • The entire military-industrial complex, including billions of dollars in defense contracts and our global war machine
    • Every single government entitlement program including the Social Security ponzi scheme
    • And trillions of dollars more for other “essential” government services

    But I can already hear someone protesting: “All those things are out of the House’s control.”

    If that is your belief, let’s permit more space for Mr. Sowell to correct you.

    “As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.”

    That’s right. Sowell explains that it is the House that gets to decide whether the nation spends money on a “particular government activity.”

    Wow! What a time to remind the American people who has control of America’s purse strings.

    So, while government spending levels spiral out of control, the House has decided that it only wants a fight to defund Obamacare. This is rather convenient for the GOP, considering Obamacare has not yet had a chance to permeate the nation. I think that honest hard-working Americans should hold their applause and standing ovations for these “sudden fiscal conservatives” who want to defund one government program while funding other similar programs at extreme levels.

    After all, if the GOP is so “gung-ho” to stop the rampant growth in government spending, why stop at Obamacare? Don’t get me wrong. I would love to see Obamacare defunded and replaced with a free market solution. But I am more interested in seeing across the board cuts to ALL government programs in order to stave off an inevitable default in the years ahead.

    Since the House has the responsibility of “approving all government spending,” can anyone answer why these “sudden fiscal conservatives” have refused to defund the existing entitlement programs that pose a much more grave threat to our Republic? After all, both parties have given the current House plenty of entitlement reform opportunities.

    According to a fiscal analysis by the Office of Management and Budget, over the next decade:

    • Social Security will cost U.S. taxpayers $11 trillion
    • Medicare will cost a whopping $8 trillion
    • And Medicaid will cost U.S. taxpayers $4.3 trillion

    In comparison, the nonpartisan CBO has projected that, over the next decade, Obamacare will cost taxpayers $1.8 trillion.

    So, the basic arithmetic suggests that these “sudden fiscal conservatives” are picking on the littlest guy in the room.

    Obamacare is an easy target for the GOP simply because they don’t have to take away benefits from anyone. Why? Because the plan is just now being implemented.

    Can you imagine if these “sudden fiscal conservatives” were to apply the same political strength to an effort to defund Social Security, which currently send checks to 62 million beneficiaries? Or what about defunding Medicare which provides health coverage to over 48 million Americans?

    These “sudden fiscal conservatives” won’t even touch their own Republican-inspired entitlement programs. They seemingly ignore President Bush Jr’s disastrous Medicare Prescription Drug Act, which will cost U.S. taxpayers $1.1 trillion over the next decade. In fact, several of these GOP con-men were standing, all grins, next to President George W. Bush as he signed the Medicare Prescription Drug Act into law.

    The sheer fiscal insanity and spineless leadership that infects Washington is only exacerbated by the American people’s defense of these thugs based upon their team colors. When will the American people realize that they themselves are the butt of a bad joke?

    Deficits (and Defaults) Don’t Matter?

    Another interesting talking point that the GOP has concocted is that the U.S. will not default if the debt ceiling is not increased. This logic is rooted in the fact that America would only “technically” enter a state of default if it somehow failed to pay the interest on the existing national debt.

    As Sowell explains:

    “Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.

    Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.”

    At first glance, this may sound great to fiscal conservatives. However, the logic of this argument is terribly flawed. While it is true that the Federal government currently collects just over $200 billion per month in tax revenue, they spend more than $300 billion each month!

    Do you really trust these inept political leaders to manage this situation, if it were to occur? And what 1/3 of our current spending would politicians cut? It’s a guarantee that if any of these cuts occur to anything near and dear to the hearts of the GOP, they will be the first to claim a “default.”

    As an economist, I can tell you that it is absolutely absurd to think that if the Federal government experienced an immediate 35%+ spending reduction everything would be just “fine.” Those who buy this flawed argument obviously do not understand that America is nothing more than an economic house of cards. The American economy runs on “confidence.” (Consumer “confidence,” business “confidence,” investor “confidence,” etc.) Because the U.S. dollar has no real backing (except for the “full faith and credit of the Federal government”) all that remains is “confidence.”

    Put simply, if America’s political leaders do anything to tamper with, let alone destroy, the “confidence” that America is able or willing to pay all of its obligations, it would immediately send financial shockwaves around the world.

    No matter what the GOP may say publicly, this government shutdown has little to do with “taking fiscal responsibility” or “protecting the economic future of our kids and grandkids.” If it really did, then Republicans would have taken the axe to government entitlement spending long ago. While those phrases sound good and get votes, in reality they do not motivate the 99.9% of politicians.

    A Revolution is Brewing

    Finally, I question the wisdom of Mr. Sowell, a champion of the right, delivering such plain civic lessons to a nation that is clearly on the verge of a new revolution. In his article, Sowell attempts to blame the Democrats by pointing to the Constitutional spending powers bestowed upon the House. However, his myopic argument inadvertently exposed openly that the GOP has the right “to fund or not fund” whatever they wish. Oops. To the millions that are just now waking up all around the country to America’s true financial situation, perhaps this knowledge may be better left unspoken.

    After all, if the masses ever fully realize that it is the House Republicans that hold within their power the ability to “defund” the military-industrial complex, the NSA, all of the wars, along with a myriad of government programs that threaten to bankrupt the Republic, it could spell trouble.

    If America’s fiscal patriots were ever to grasp that it is the “small government conservatives” in the House that wield the authority to “defund” bailouts, the failed drug war, the bloated Department of Education, the IRS, Washington’s massive military expenditures, and the growing American police state, they may just finally understand how similar Washington’s political parties really are.

    The ironies are almost too great to bear. The Republican party’s choice for President in 2012? Mitt Romney, who provided the inspiration for Obamacare through his own Romneycare.

    Or what about the Republican party’s choice for President in 2008? John McCain, the completely out-of-touch global military adventurist who claimed the fundamentals of the U.S. economy were “very strong” and “entirely sound” just weeks before the deepest U.S. economic collapse since the Great Depression.

    That the American people continue to allow their emotions and intellects to be hijacked by Washington’s antics in 2013 is simply astonishing.

    Perhaps this all explains why it is so often said that “Republicans campaign like Libertarians and govern like Democrats.”

    Everyone The U.S. Government Owes Money To, In One Graph

    Here’s who the government owes money to — all the holders of U.S. Treasury debt, broken down by category and by how much government debt they hold.

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    Pat Buchanan: Is Red State America Seceding?

    “Those who love where they live but not those who rule them are seeking to secede.”

    Scripture of the Day

    “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.”
    Proverbs 22:4

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