Category Archives: Debt And Deficits

Don’t Forget the Other Entitlement Monsters

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

The continuing attention devoted to the blunders, incompetence, and lies surrounding the Photo Credit: USDA Gov via FlickrObamacare rollout is much deserved. But we shouldn’t forget that the President’s health-care monstrosity is merely the latest and biggest of scores of government entitlement programs suffering from the same flawed progressive assumption––that government “experts” armed with coercive power alone can solve problems better left to the states, civil society, and the free market. In reality, such programs relentlessly metastasize, increasing as well fraud, waste, abuse, and costs.

One such program is SNAP, the kinder and gentler name for what we used to call food stamps. Apparently the old coupons were too hurtful, so they have been replaced by the Electronic Benefits Transfer card that looks like a debit or credit card. Over the last decade, SNAP recipients have increased from 21 million to 47 million, 1 in 7 Americans. But benefits paid out have nearly quadrupled from $21 billion to $75 billion. Read more →

The Political Debate We Need to Have

Today, we treat politics as a sport, but it’s really a conflict of ideologies between federalists and technocrats.

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas 

The media and pundits treat politics like a sport. The significance of the recent agreement to postpone the debt crisis until January, for instance, is really about which party won and which lost, which party’s tactics are liable to be more successful in the next election, and which politician is a winner and which a loser. But politics rightly understood is not about the contest of policies or politicians. It’s about the philosophical principles and ideas that create one policy rather than another—that’s what it should be about, at least.imgres

From that point of view, the conflict between Democrats and Republicans concerns the size and role of the federal government, which is no surprise to anyone who even casually follows politics. But more important are the ideas that ground arguments for or against limited government. These ideas include our notions of human nature, and what motivates citizens when they make political decisions. Our political conflicts today reflect the two major ways Americans have answered these questions.

The framing of the Constitution itself was predicated on one answer, best expressed by Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli: “It is necessary to whoever arranges to found a Republic and establish laws in it, to presuppose that all men are bad and that they will use their malignity of mind every time they have the opportunity.” Throughout the debates during the Constitutional convention, the state ratifying conventions, and the essays in the Federalist, the basis of the Constitution was the view that human nature is flawed.

As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 6,men are “ambitious, vindictive and rapacious,” and are motivated by what James Madison called “passions and interests.” These destructive passions and selfish interests were particularly predominant among the masses, whose ignorance of political theory and history left them vulnerable to demagogues. Read more →

Obama, Heed Thyself

He used to know some important things.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

Republicans and Democrats are still name-calling in their arguments over the government shutdown, out-of-control federal spending, and the implementation of Obamacare. Yet if both sides would agree to just follow the earlier advice of Photo Credit: thierry ehrmann, abode of chaos via FlickrPresident Obama, tempers might cool. And had President Obama himself just listened to earlier guidance from Barack Obama, his opponents might have had no cause for either a government shutdown or another debt-ceiling crisis.

In 2006, Obama rightly called for an end to the Bush administration’s intemperate deficit spending that had resulted in an annual deficit of $250 billion that year. Accordingly, Senator Obama voted to shut down the government rather than automatically to extend the debt ceiling. He explained his resistance this way: “Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

Obama rightly added an additional warning in forcing an impasse over further borrowing: “Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities. Instead, interest payments are a significant tax on all Americans — a debt tax that Washington doesn’t want to talk about.” Read more →

What Are They Fighting Over?

by Victor Davis Hanson // NRO’s The Corner 

The deficit this year may fall to below $700 billion, but that is still huge at a time of a record near $17 trillion in debt, and comes despite a supposedly recovering economy and more revenue, despite recent sequestration cuts, despite dramatic Apples_apple_piegains in U.S. domestic energy production, despite the return of the Clinton-era tax hikes to the top brackets, and despite the end of the war in Iraq and the wind down in Afghanistan.

Wars, tax cuts on the wealthy, and out-of-control defense spending were all in the past variously cited as causing these huge deficits. In fact, the more compelling causes were always chronically slow economic growth, out-of-control federal spending, and the exemption of nearly half of America from paying any income tax at all.

No wonder we have a deadlock, when the best medicine for restoring fiscal health—stronger GDP growth through suspending Obamacare, opening up federal gas Read more →

When Big Deficits Became Good

by Victor Davis Hanson

Tribune Media Services

As a senator and presidential candidate, Barack Obama said that he detested budget deficits. In 2006, when the aggregate national debt was almost $8 trillion less than today, he blasted George W. Bush’s chronic borrowing and refused to vote for upping the debt ceiling: “Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’”
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2013: Welcome to Very, Very Scary Times

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

On the One Hand…

These should not be foreboding years. The US is in the midst of a veritable energy revolution. There is a godsend of new gas and oil discoveries that will help to curtail our fiscal and foreign policy vulnerabilities — an energy bonanza despite, not because of[1], the present administration. Read more →

A New Year in America: Will We Continue Down the Road to Decline?

by Bruce Thronton

Frontpage Magazine

 

Looking back over 2012, one could be forgiven for thinking that if America goes on at this rate, the nation must be ruined. But as Adam Smith replied to a young man who said those same words about British losses during the American Revolution, “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” A mighty power will not collapse overnight, and the course of decline can always be halted by a renewal of patriotic vigor. But absent that, ruin will eventually come. As we look ahead to 2013, signs abound that we may be reaching the point where decline accelerates. Read more →

The Great New Year Stampede

by Victor Davis Hanson

Tribune Media Services

There is a new-year stampede developing that we have not seen for a long time.

Gun stores are swamped with panicking customers. They are looking for handguns, semi-automatic rifles and as much ammunition as they can afford. Read more →

Bush Reconsidered

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

George W. Bush left office in January 2009 with one of the lowest job-approval ratings for a president (34 percent) since Gallup started compiling them — as compared to Harry Truman’s low of 32 percent, Richard Nixon’s of 24 percent, and Jimmy Carter’s of 34 percent — and to the general derision of the media.
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Ripples from the Election

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

Now that the election is over, we are starting to see the contours of what lies ahead for the next four years. Here are some likely consequences from the Obama victory. Read more →