Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

Debt-Ceiling Fraud


I told you so! For the past several months, I have been saying that the Republicans were going to cave on the lifting of the debt ceiling. I’ve been writing it and I’ve been proclaiming it on my weekly Internet show.

And sure enough, that’s exactly what they did. After weeks of huffing and puffing about the enormous size of the national debt and the out-of-control federal spending, they caved, once again, and voted to lift the debt ceiling.

You might ask, “Jacob, how did you know that they would cave? They’ve been saying for weeks that they would never cave — that they would never vote to lift the debt ceiling.”

Well, it was easy. I know conservatives. I have watched them for decades. They always cave. They’ve caved ever since the New Deal, when they threw in the towel and embraced the new welfare-state way of life that liberals (or progressives as many of them now like to call themselves) were foisting on American society.

After fervently opposing FDR’s Social Security, a program that originated among German socialists, conservatives ended up being one of this socialist scheme’s biggest defenders.

When LBJ, following in the statist footsteps of FDR, succeeded in getting Medicare and Medicaid enacted, conservatives caved and exuberantly accepted the program.

In fact, as I have repeatedly emphasized for the past 21 years here at The Future of Freedom Foundation, there now isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between conservatives and liberals — they both fully and completely embrace the welfare-state way of life and the warfare-state way of life that afflict our nation, along with the interventionist/regulatory system under which Americans must live.

Consider the following programs and ask yourself whether conservatives and liberals aren’t both firmly committed to their existence and continuation: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, education grants, farm subsidies, foreign aid, community grants, food stamps, corporate bailouts, stimulus spending, unemployment compensation, foreign wars, undeclared wars, a standing army, the military industrial complex, a foreign military empire, invasions, occupations, wars of aggression, torture, immunity for torturers, sanctions, embargoes, Gitmo, the war on terrorism, the Patriot Act, the enemy-combatant doctrine, paper money, the Federal Reserve, and, well, you get my point.

The fact is that the federal government has become the primary caregiver for the American people, and both conservatives and liberals are fine with that. The federal government has also become the world’s policeman, intervener, interloper, invader, aggressor, sanction and embargo imposer, torturer, kidnapper, renditioner, and tribunal conductor, and both conservatives and liberals are fine with that too.

There was never any doubt that the debt ceiling would be lifted. As I have been repeatedly saying, the whole thing is one great big fraud on the American people, and unfortunately all too many Americans still permit themselves to be taken in by this fraud, thanks in large part to the deference-to-authority mindset that was drilled into them in the 12 long years they were forced to receive government schooling.

Think about it. Why do they even have a debt ceiling? What they’re saying with a ceiling is what we libertarians hold: Too much debt is a very bad thing, both for a person and for a government. The fact that they put a ceiling on the amount of debt the federal government can incur is an implicit acknowledgement of that principle.

Yet, what do they do every time the ceiling is reached? They fuss and fuss and wring their hands … and then simply raise it again, so that we can go through this entire charade two years from now, when most everyone will have already forgotten the debt-ceiling charade of 2011.

Now, do you honestly think that from now until the next time the debt ceiling is reached, they’re going to slash federal spending so that it won’t be necessary to raise the ceiling a couple of years from now?

If you actually believe that, you’re one of their public schools’ greatest success stories.

Did you see them slashing spending the last time the debt ceiling was raised a couple of years ago? Did you hear them say, “We’ve got the ceiling coming up in 2011. We’ve got to stop spending so much money”?

Of course not. In addition to all the regular welfare-warfare state spending programs, they even embarked on additional big ones, with nary a concern about the approaching debt ceiling.

Remember the bailouts? Remember the stimulus plans? Remember the bombing of Libya? These were all big spending binges, all of which sent a simple message: “We don’t give a hoot about that approaching debt ceiling. We’ll just fuss and fuss and wring our hands and then raise it again.”

It will be no different in the next two years. They will continue spending, taxing, borrowing, and inflating until the debt ceiling is reached again. It’s what they’ve done for decades. Why do you think the value of the dollar is worth 5 percent of its value in 1913, when the Federal Reserve was established? It’s because they’ve spent, borrowed, and inflated to fund their beloved welfare-warfare state for decades, raising the debt ceiling each time to accommodate it all.

Here was a grand opportunity for anyone interested in dismantling big government. If the debt ceiling had not been raised, the government would have been forced to sustain its operations with incoming tax revenues. What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with not being able to go get a new credit card when you’re already maxed out?

Here was a grand opportunity for conservatives. They could have proposed abolishing all sorts of departments, agencies, and bureaucracies. My preference would be to start with the crown jewels — Social Security and Medicare, but if that would have scared them they could have begun with the Departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, and Labor. Didn’t even Ronald Reagan support abolishing some of them? They could have ended the drug war. They could have terminated foreign aid. They could have brought the troops home from everywhere and discharged them. They could have simply said, “The money isn’t there. We can’t afford the entire welfare-warfare state anymore.”

They could have made some serious inroads into big government. But they didn’t, because deep in their hearts, conservatives love big government. They just love to preach libertarian mantras at the same time.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: The real battle facing our nation is not between the federal government and the terrorists. Instead, the battle is between libertarians and the statists. With their out-of-control spending, borrowing, taxing, regulating, and bombing, the statists are taking our country down, in the same way that those same policies took down the Soviet Union.

With our firm and unwavering commitment to sound money and our fierce opposition to out-of-control spending, borrowing, taxing, inflating, welfarism, interventionism, warfarism, the drug war, and imperialism, the simple fact is that we libertarians are the only hope for the statist woes that conservatives and liberals have brought to our land.

Let me say a word about the liberal statists, who are all sad and droopy-eyed because their beloved leader, Barack Obama, let them down by refusing to raise taxes on the rich. Unlike the conservatives, who know better but simply capitulate anyway, the liberals honestly believe that the key to a wealthy and prosperous society lies in massive, ever-growing government expenditures, taxes, and inflationary debasement of the currency.

That’s one of the major dividing lines between liberals and libertarians. We libertarians know that such policies are the key to impoverishment, while liberals say they are the key to prosperity. That’s the financial and economic choice that the American people must make in this battle between statism and libertarianism.

In making that choice, people should keep in mind that liberals have never been able to show why their policies are unable to make the people of Cuba and North Korea wealthy and prosperous. After all, wouldn’t the governments in such nations simply have to inflate the money supply, debase the currency, tax the rich, and increase government spending and debt in order to produce wealth and prosperity?

Liberals are always befuddled over that one. They just never know how to answer it. The reason? Their policies are cockamamie, especially given that liberal policies are precisely why Cuba and North Korea are so poor. They’ve already done all the things that liberals prescribe — Social Security, Medicare, public schooling, central bank, paper money, federal spending, military spending, welfare, debt, taxation, etcetera, etcetera. That’s why they’re poor!

And that’s the road the statists have us on — the road to bankruptcy, the road to impoverishment and, with the inevitable economic crises, ultimately the road to dictatorship. It’s the road to the socialist paradises of Cuba and North Korea, right here in the United States, thanks to liberal economic statism.

There is only one way to get off the statist road, and that’s libertarianism. The question is: Will a sufficient number of Americans join us in our grand and glorious cause to restore a free, prosperous, peaceful, and harmonious society to our land before it’s too late?

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.