Jacob G. Hornberger, It seems like just yesterday that the debt-ceiling circus returned to Washington. Actually, it was October 2021, a little over two years ago. That circus was just like all the ones that preceded it.
The mainstream press and other acolytes of the welfare-warfare state issued all sorts of dire predictions if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised. As soon as the debt-ceiling was raised, no one advocated cutting government spending to prepare for the next time that the debt ceiling was reached. Everyone knew that as soon as the new debt ceiling was reached, they could do the same thing again.
In other words, for the past two years, it has been business as usual — federal government expenditures exceeding tax revenues by around $1 trillion per year. And everyone knew that within a couple of years, the debt ceiling would be reached again.
Thus, just like clockwork, it’s déjà vu all over again. In fact, the mainstream press doesn’t even have to write new editorials or op-eds. All they have to do is trot out the ones from 2021 (and before) and use them. No one would be the wiser. Why write new ones when the old ones will work just as well?
But perhaps the most noteworthy thing to notice about the debt-ceiling circus is Republicans. Whenever there is a Republican president, Republicans stay silent about or, even worse, supportive of out-of-control spending and debt. President Trump, for example, added around $8 trillion to the national debt. You could call him the King of Debt. The Republican members of Congress were as quiet as church mice or, even worse, wildly supportive of their big-spender and big-debt leader.
Now that the debt ceiling has been reached under Democrat president Joe Biden, the Republicans have suddenly discovered their inner secret self of fiscal responsibility. They are demanding that Biden agree to undefined reductions in federal spending as a condition for agreeing to lift the debt ceiling. For his part, Biden says he’s not budging. He’s determined to continue the out-of-control federal spending and debt spree, no matter what.
Let me tell you how this ends. The Republicans will cave. Republicans always cave. This time will be no different. Oh, sure, they might finally get Biden and the Democrats to agree to some minor reduction in spending — no doubt spread over the next 10 years, but for all practical purposes it will do nothing to prevent the federal government from continuing to hurl America into national bankruptcy.
When it comes to spending and debt, Republicans are right up there with Democrats, especially considering their unwavering devotion and subserviency to the national-security establishment — i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.
How long have we heard Republicans calling for a “balanced-budget amendment”? Decades! But it’s all been idle, hypocritical chatter.
How do we know that? Because Republicans now have the opportunity to require a balanced budget. Yes, right now! They don’t need a constitutional amendment to achieve a balanced budget. All they have to do is insist on enforcement of the debt ceiling. No more new debt. After all, the debt ceiling is an express acknowledgement that too much debt is a very bad thing and can actually be very dangerous from a fiscal standpoint.
Enforcing the current debt ceiling would mean that federal officials would now have to live with a balanced budget, which would necessarily mean a major slashing of federal expenditures.
The mainstream press says that this would mean a default in interest payments on the federal debt. That’s just not true. The amount of money coming into the U.S. Treasury is more than sufficient to cover interest payments on the debt.
That means slashing expenditures on the Republican-Democrat welfare-warfare state. The biggest area would be the military. Close domestic military bases. They are unnecessary. Lay off soldiers. They are also unnecessary. Bring all the troops home from overseas and discharge them. Close all the foreign military bases. Stop giving billions of dollars to the crooked and corrupt regime in Ukraine. Stop giving foreign aid to everyone. In fact, the ideal would be to dismantle the entire deep state and restore our founding system of a limited-government republic. That would save gobs of money.
Get rid of all the non-essential departments, agencies, and personnel, permanently. In fact, the ideal would be to end all the socialist welfare-state and interventionist regulatory-state programs, including Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, education grants, farm subsidies, and corporate bailouts. That too would save gobs of money.
That would leave the Postal Service. We can get rid of that too. There is no reason why the federal government has to be in the mail-delivery service. That would also save a lot of money.
Will Republicans step up to the plate and refuse to lift the debt ceiling? If you believe that, I’ve got a nice bridge in Ukraine I’d like to sell you. Like I say, Republicans will cave. Republicans always cave.