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The Enduring Crisis of Big Government

A catastrophic crisis has been averted.  The debt ceiling was raised and America was spared from having Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner in control of prioritizing federal spending and managing our nation’s balance sheets.

Still, the debt deal marked yet another win for big spenders and establishment politicians, who, using Washington’s Madoffesque budgetary math, presumably made big and, even if you follow liberal progressive logic, “painful” cuts.  

But what really manifested itself was a typical Washington smoke and mirrors accounting, defining a “cut” as what is in all actuality merely a reduction in the rate of growth in spending.  This enables the praetorian guard of the status quo in D.C. to continue to borrow and spend unprecedented amounts of other people’s money, to hand out to special interests and maintain key voting constituencies for the next election.

It also shelters politicians from the cloud of criticism of being irresponsible and unalloyed big spenders, by allowing them to point to $7 billion in cuts in 2012 (we borrow $4 billion a day) and a super-committee to propose further reductions in spending.  Committees have been a mainstay in Washington when dealing with issues of government overspending and throughout history they have been routinely ignored and dismissed. Regardless, we will still spend more next year than we did this year.

Unfortunately this means that the deal is a loser for the economy and hard working Americans, not benefitting from the government’s unsustainable largess.  The unrivaled federal spending binge will continue, extracting valued resources from the private sector and dumping them in the black hole of bureaucracy in the federal government, producing a demonstrably weak economy.

And the reality of our economy seems ever more ominous.  GDP numbers grew at an extremely weak 1.3 percent in the second quarter and growth rates from the first quarter were revised down from 1.9 to a seemingly nonexistent 0.4 percent, while the unemployment rate remains above 9 percent.  Credit ratings agency Standard and Poor lowered America’s triple-A credit rating to double-A plus, while stock markets across the globe have been plunging precipitously due to looming fears of a global economic slowdown and excessive indebtedness of profligate European welfare states.

Yet these economic admonitions have done nothing to alter the path of President Obama’s anti-growth economic policy or to even consider trimming the size of leviathan.  Obama continues to incessantly propose raising taxes and implementing an infrastructure bank—i.e. another slush fund for failed Keynesian stimulus and handouts for corporate cronies.  Even the president’s speeches have had the unintended effect of roiling the stock market further, as the already dampened animal spirits of stock traders quickly crashed 200 points during one of the president’s teleprompter enhanced presentations.

The tea party has undoubtedly changed the nature of the debate in Washington, slowly pushing back against an ideology of economic interventionism that has dominated the nation’s capital.  But the crisis of an oversized and overbearing government draining the energy of the American economy endures and while the solution to that problem seems self evident—it will take at least another election to begin to solve it.


Thank you for a very concise and thorough article. Absolutely, the tea party has changed the nature of the debate, but until the nature of the political system is changed through an increase in citizen participation and subsequent political accountability, the status quo will continue. Our elected officials are successful precisely because they master the rules to the game. Paraphrasing what you wrote, they hand out other people’s money 1) to special interests to garner donations for future elections and 2) to maintain key voting constituencies. As long as we, the citizenry, allow the rules to remain the same, the players will not change. We must take personal responsibility to change the rules to this game.