So last night, once again we hear the leaders of Congress use words like, "Masterful," "historic agreement," and the self-adulation seems to know no bounds.
Instead, I ask you how this is anything different than the same ol' same ol' we've been seeing from our elected officials. There is nothing new here, nothing to be happy about. We have two polarized positions well-illustrated by the cartoon above. One contingent wants to raise the debt ceiling to avoid default on America's public debt (nothing more than a political red herring, I might add). The other polarized and continuously losing position is to turn off the spending faucet. And who wins? The status quo statists from both parties, who continue to "compromise" around spending more and more in perpetuity with seemingly no end in sight.
We have not seen a long-term budget passed out of Congress since before Barack Obama took office over five years ago. The government is funded instead in a series of "continuing resolutions" to keep the doors open. The devastating result is that there is never a serious effort to confront and solve the automatic payments now baked into the budget for all the entitlement programs that have been escalating since The New Deal days of FDR. The progressives have partnered and compromised drop by drop, year by year, with Republicans only too anxious to perpetuate the government solutions as a way to solve everything.
Someone asked me last night, "So what do you think of Mike Lee now?" knowing I had supported him and worked diligently to get him elected. My response was, "I love the man for standing on his correct principles despite the fact he never had enough votes to swing anyone to his point of view."
We have a unique political reality in Utah. Because it's a one-party state (reddest in the nation), Lee has a unique opportunity to take a principled stand. My guess is he's a Republican in name only. In his heart of hearts he leans more libertarian, just like me, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. He reflects my values, my hopes and dreams for America one day coming to her senses and putting to an end once and for all the unsustainable idiotic fiscal path we are running down at breakneck speed. I hope he succeeds. Like him, I say, "Damn the inbound political torpedoes, full speed ahead."
Warren Buffet minced no words this week in Washington: "We have spent 237 years since 1776 building a reputation as the most wonderful country on earth, and one that's entrusted with having the reserve currency of the world. . . That is being put in jeopardy now and it could be destroyed in a little while. A great reputation is like virginity. It can preserved, but it can't be restored."
"The whole idea of a debt limit is a terrible, terrible mistake. If you're going to spend more than you take in, what are you going to do except raise the debt limit? So it becomes this political weapon of mass destruction. It really is like a nuclear bomb. It's something that maybe you talk about but never dream of using."
Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are scary smart. Politicians cut from the old cloth they are not, however. They will always and forever remain a marginalized minority voice in the U.S. Senate unless and until Americans recognize the alternative they are offering and embrace it. The imposition of fiscal discipline is not a popularly accepted position to advocate, however. Low information voters abound in America today. They would rather have their government-subsidized bread and circuses. And Mitt Romney was about right when he pegged that number at around 47% of the population in America.
We often lament about the political divisions in America today, but it is totally reminiscent of the debates that Americans were having for years in the run-up to the war no one in the Colonies wanted - the Revolutionary War. Check your history books. It was not popular to attack the tyranny of King George back then. It is not popular now either. How does America impeach the first POTUS of African-American heritage, though his excesses are egregious? That's a battle NO ONE wants, and so the degradation of America continues unabated on his multi-tasking agenda. Whenever the choice is between cleverly-disguised tyranny and freedom, one would think it would be an easy choice, right?
Instead, even before we were Americans, people then were concerned more about their own welfare, their crops in the ground that needed tending and cultivating. We need to be reminded every day how we began this great nation. The phrase, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman" originated with the pen of Thomas Paine. Those words first published as The Crisis that had followed his famous Common Sense served as an influential rallying cry against the British King. The debate raged in the Colonies for 17 long years in the run-up to putting the patriot rebels in one room who would affix their signatures to the Declaration of Independence.
Here's the practical reality: Nothing in our current crisis will change until there are enough votes in the Senate, and the veto-proof signature of a POTUS in the White House.
Even without the votes in their pockets, Cruz, Lee and Paul are to be commended for their principled stand. The statists, those who defend the status quo of big government solutions from both parties, who continue to compromise for more and more spending had better beware. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Minority Leader, took home $2 Billion in funding for a dam in Kentucky, his home state, in this "historic deal" last night. He's up for re-election next year. That is a blatant confirmation of business as usual politics - "You give me this, I'll give you that." And neither side ever advocates for a serious debate about long-term consequences.
We DON'T need to cut off ALL spending at the pockets IMMEDIATELY. All we need is to develop a spending plan that creates a gradual downward slope in the debt-to-GDP ratio over the next 8 - 10 years. Does that really sound "radical" or "extremist?" NOT doing something like that is extremist.
The mid-term elections in 2014 shape up as a chance to garner more votes for the people's representatives in government who can begin to address the long-term funding problems we face as a nation. The current participants who remain at the throttles must be deposed at the ballot box. Will it happen? Another poll last week declared 60% were ready to toss out their current representatives. That number came in at 78% in a similar Rasmussen poll.How will that public opinion shift between now and then? Recently, 51% of those polled consider themselves "moderate" and "in the middle" of politics, none of whom say they identify with EITHER political party.
Let's conclude with more from Thomas Paine: "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain [insert Obama as the despised tyrant], with an army to enforce her tyranny [insert IRS, NSA], has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but 'to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER' and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God."
|Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)|
"Some say we shouldn’t have fought because we couldn’t win. But this country wasn’t built by fighting only when victory was certain. In fact, some of the most important victories in our history were the result of fighting battles against significant odds.
"And even if victory seemed difficult or impossible, that wouldn’t excuse me or anyone else from doing the right thing. Avoiding difficult battles is how we ended up in this mess – $17 trillion in debt, out-of-control spending, a broken entitlement system, a tax code no one understands – all because Washington is willing to act only when there is guaranteed political gain.
"When the avoidance of political risk becomes our dominant motivation, only the Washington establishment wins. And the American people lose."
Ask yourself, "Who fought honorably for liberty?" I suspect deep in the heart of Mike Lee beats a rhythm in unison with Thomas Paine. All other pretenders should be banished forever from the public trust. If only American voters had the history lessons before them. . .