Clever Words Sustain the Bloated U. S. Government

Published August 24, 2011

Politicians live on words. They are the politician’s true currency. It’s no secret the currency is debased nearly to worthlessness because politicians so often act in ways that belie their words.

Example: Rep. Michael Grimm of New York recently appeared on former federal Judge Andrew Napolitano’s FreedomWatch program. Grimm describes himself as a tea party Republican. In the weeks before the debt ceiling deal, these tea partyers pledged to oppose any increase in the debt ceiling.

Yet when push came to shove, nearly three-fourths of Republicans in Congress, including Grimm, voted for raising the debt ceiling another $2.4 trillion over two years.

Napolitano started by throwing Grimm’s words from earlier in the debate back at him: “The economy would be destroyed if the ceiling goes up.” “Raising the debt ceiling simply is not an option.”

Grimm stopped him to finish the second quote: “It’s simply not an option unless we have cuts and systemic reforms,” implying his affirmative vote means we have them.

There are no “cuts” as anyone outside of politics uses the word. The debt deal allows spending to rise. All it does is slow future spending increases.

As for systemic reforms, there are none. Oh, there will be a “supercommittee” of 12 members assigned to look for more cuts that really aren’t. If Congress cut nothing when there was no spending cushion on the debt ceiling, what makes us think they’ll cut by Thanksgiving, when the supercommittee is supposed to report, and when Congress knows it will have a $2.4 trillion cushion over the next two years?

“We [meaning Republicans] don’t control the Senate, we don’t control the presidency. Imagine what we could do if we did,” Grimm told Napolitano.

Yes, let us imagine. Here are a few things that happened during the previous administration of Republican President George W. Bush, which began in 2001. Bush had a Republican House for six years and a Republican Senate for four. The Bush administration gave us:

• An 83 percent increase in federal spending.

• A national debt that rose from $5.7 trillion to $10.4 trillion.

• Medicare prescription drug coverage, the largest expansion of entitlement spending since the 1960s.

• No Child Left Behind, the largest and most expensive intrusion of the federal government into public education in national history.

• Two expensive, undeclared wars, both of which have lasted longer than the Vietnam War, and neither of which has victory or end in sight.

Until a majority of Americans stop believing the patently absurd claims of the people who run this country, and come to see politicians not as Republicans or Democrats or progressives or conservatives but as the power-seekers they are, this nation will continue down this sorry path.

Steve Stanek is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.