Last Friday, I was asked by the editors of the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, to write the “Counter-Point” to an essay by the Comal County Democratic Party chair (behind a pay-wall, here.) At the time, I didn’t know who the author was and only had a portion of the original to read, but the major points were that the debt ceiling debate was only meant to be used against President Obama and all due to “past policies.” Here’s my answer, along with the title given it by the H-Z:
“The Public Is Being Bribed”
Yes, the current problems with the United States’ budget are due to errors of the past, including those of the current Administration. However, the first author’s basic philosophy is wrong.
In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville observed, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
Last year, nearly half of the people in the United States didn’t pay income taxes. The top 50% paid 96% of the income tax revenues. The top 5% (those earning over $160,000) paid 55% of all income taxes, although they earned 33% of the gross income.
Congress and Federal bureaucracies have expanded the budget and the reach of government regulations. They heaped “ObamaCare”, on top of the “Stimulus,” on top of TARP bailouts, on top of earlier spending that made Conservatives angry enough to stay home in 2006 and 2008. The American voters didn’t like spending in November, 2010 and we don’t like it now.
Ronald Reagan convinced the Democrat-controlled Congress to cut tax rates along with tax deductions and loopholes, increasing Federal revenue. However, promised cuts in spending never materialized and the National debt exceeded $2 Trillion dollars in 1988. In 1995, Bill Clinton forced two government shut-downs, but the Republican House and Senate persisted until he signed balanced budgets four years in a row.
Unfortunately, since 2001 both Parties have increased non-defense spending in addition to recovery from September 11, 2001, the war on the Afghanistan and Iraqi fronts, and the near-failure of the banking system in 2008. Attempts to decrease the rate of growth for non-essentials and bureaucracies were knocked down by histrionics from special interests and the media, even as new layers of tax credits and deductions were added, until half the country pays no taxes.
America was built on the dream that every child could grow up to be President or start a billion dollar business in the garage like the Wright brothers, Henry Ford and Bill Gates. I don’t remember hearing that if I worked hard, I could grow up to be middle class.
We Americans have a tradition of giving back, lending a hand up, and rescuing the helpless. Bloated Government bureaucracies divide families and force PC “separation of Church and State.” They’re poor substitutes for Churches and private charities that we choose as stewards for our duty to the less fortunate.
Yes, it’s important to think for ourselves and research the truth behind the latest controversies. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the people I know. However, we can learn from history. De Tocqueville also predicted, “”A democracy . . . can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
Edited for spelling 3/28/2012 BBN