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Fiddling While Treasury Burns – by Vasko Kohlmayer

Posted By Vasko Kohlmayer On December 21, 2009 @ 12:02 am In FrontPage | 9 Comments

The spend junkies who inhabit the United States Congress are once again trying to pull a fast one on the American people. Driven by an overpowering urge to feed their insatiable habit, they are plotting to raise the national debt ceiling by an unprecedented amount. Reports Politico:

“In a bold but risky year-end strategy, Democrats are preparing to raise the federal debt ceiling by as much as $1.8 trillion before New Year’s rather than have to face the issue again prior to the 2010 elections.”

One must question Politico’s choice of terms in describing the strategy as “bold.” Insidious would be a more fitting adjective.

Knowing that the national debt will continue skyrocket, our representatives want to avoid voting for another increase before next year’s elections. Such a vote could possibly make the debt a subject of discussion, which is something they wish to avoid at all costs. Having done their best to spend us into oblivion, their bashfulness is understandable. But judging by their maneuvering, they obviously don’t think their work is done.

The proposed increase should give us pause, because it reveals the extent to which our congressmen plan to waste our money in the months to come. In their own estimation, they will need $1.8 trillion to get them through the period between the end of December and the next election. This amount is $400 billion above the $1.4 trillion deficit that the government posted in fiscal 2009. In other words, Congressional democrats estimate that nearly 30 percent more will be spent in the next 10 months than was expended during the whole of the record-breaking 2009.

“We’ve incurred this debt. We have to pay our bills,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Hoyer’s statement is utterly disingenuous. If we paid our bills we would not have to raise the debt ceiling. The fact is that we do not pay our bills. We simply borrow when payments come due. And when we have to pay interest on our debt, we borrow for that too.

We have been told that the deficit spending of fiscal 2009 was a one off event necessitated by the crisis. It was claimed that the unprecedented outlays were necessary to halt our descent into the abyss. The astronomical deficit of 2009 was supposed to be an exception. Once the storm blew over, we were supposed to return to a more restrained mode of conducting our financial affairs.

Judging by their actions, Congressional Democrats have no intention of doing that. Quite to the contrary, they plan to spend even more than they did last year.  This poses a serious problem as our government is out of money, burdened with financial obligations it cannot conceivably meet. And yet our politicians plan to add to our debt in unprecedented measure. Looking at all this one almost gets the impression that our political establishment is in the grip of incurable spending madness.

Speaking of madness, President Obama said in his recent speech at the Brookings Institution that we “had to spend our way out of this recession.”

If that were only so. When unemployment was approaching 6 percent under Bush, the media and democrats were bemoaning the bitter recession we were in. But today’s double digit percent unemployment apparently means that the recession is over.

The truth is that we have not spent ourselves out of anything. Rather, we have spent ourselves into a  hole. There is precious little to show for the trillions that have been burned. Earlier this year, the president’s advisors repeatedly assured us that with the stimulus unemployment would not exceed 8.5 percent. Today it is at 10 percent amidst a moribund economy. And even though we did not get the promised employment numbers, we got something else instead – a national debt worth more than $12 trillion. But even that is not enough for Washington’s voracious money appetite as evidenced by the efforts of our legislators to raise the debt ceiling.

But the president appears to be oblivious to all this. In addition to claiming that we have spent ourselves out of the recession he is also boasting that his administration has started “to make the hard choices necessary to get our country on a more stable fiscal footing in the long run.”

What “hard choices”? Obama’s every major proposal would dramatically add both to the deficit and to the national debt. Not in the least perturbed by this, the president continues to portray himself as a paragon of fiscal prudence. This is what he claimed in his Brookings speech:

“[W]e’re taking responsibility for every dollar we spend… We’ve combed the budget, cutting waste and excess wherever we could. I’m still committed to halving the deficit we inherited by the end of my first term… We have begun to not only change policies but also to change the culture in Washington.”

This is the stuff of alternative reality: The most fiscally profligate president in memory boasting about his restraint and thriftiness. He has apparently not noticed that our fiscal house is on fire. It is an alarming sight indeed to watch an American president fiddle while Treasury burns.


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