11.30.2009 0

Time for an Intervention

  • On: 12/15/2009 09:25:16
  • In: Fiscal Responsibility
  • By William Warren

    They’ve said they’ll quit time and time again—but never do.

    They’ve made excuse after excuse—but never admit the real problem.

    Their addiction not only hurts them—it hurts everyone around them as well.

    It’s gut-check time, America. The United States Government is hopelessly addicted to spending, and it’s time we, the people, staged an intervention. If the citizens of this nation don’t rise up and do something about it, the spendaholics in Washington will continue to spiral out of control and drag every last one of us down with them.

    Consider the latest reports out of the nation’s capitol. According to the Washington Post:

    “The Senate cleared for President Obama’s signature on Sunday a $447 billion omnibus spending bill that contains thousands of earmarks and double-digit increases for several Cabinet agencies…

    The House may vote this week to raise the federal debt ceiling by at least $1.8 trillion, as the current limit is set to be breached by New Year’s Eve.”

    If the federal debt ceiling (currently at $12.1 trillion) were to be raised by this amount, the American people would be looking at an increase to $13.9 trillion. Much like Obamacare, Democrats in Congress want to pass this enormous spending bill—and raise the national debt—before the 2010 election season.

    Before it becomes too inconvenient, of course.

    In a recent statement, Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government, strongly urged Congress not to increase the national debt ceiling to the proposed $13.9 trillion. As he stated:

    “The future solvency of the nation is in grave danger, and it could come down to this one vote…Congress is ready to give the American people an early Christmas present: slavish indebtedness for perpetuity.”

    Sure enough, the addicted left likes to make excuses for their spending addiction. In an attempt to deflect attention away from their out of control, haphazard spending, they’ve blamed the deficit on other matters—namely, national defense spending. According to them, funding America’s War on Terror is what is truly draining the nation’s bank account.

    As a recent Americans for Limited Government press release points out, this is an erroneous and incredibly misleading assumption. Annual defense spending has shrunk as a percent of total outlays from 21.6 percent to 18.12 percent from 1992 to 2009. This is a truly remarkable number considering that defense spending has more than doubled since 1992.

    Not only are those on the left shamelessly blaming national defense spending for the debt crisis, they are also using that very national defense spending as a cover-up for their own budgetary indiscretions. In a shrewd and calculated move, they’ve attached their national debt increase to the annual defense appropriations bill because, honestly, what upstanding congressman is going to vote against America’s soldiers in combat?

    Sparing no blunt word, Wilson stated the obvious: “Washington’s big spenders are hiding behind the troops.”

    Although annual defense spending as a percentage of the budget has decreased, the same cannot be said for “entitlements”. “Entitlement” spending has increased—and exponentially so.

    From 1992 to 2009, “entitlement” spending has grown from $386.4 billion in 1992 (27.98 percent of budget outlays totaling $1.381 trillion) to $1.36 trillion in 2009 (38.17 percent of budget outlays totaling $3.653 trillion). Like any and all government programs, “entitlement” spending has swollen to proportions previously considered unimaginable.

    With each hit the big spenders in Washington take from their drug of choice, they are only left craving more. And each successive fix must always bigger and stronger than the one before.

    Perhaps this trend is best exemplified by the American food stamps program.

    When the food stamps program began in the height of the Great Depression, it was a modest government response to the very real problem of nation-wide hunger. After a small expansion in 1961 by President Kennedy, the food stamps program was extended to serve 392,400 people at a cost of $29 million.

    Fast-forwarding just nine years to 1970, the program had ballooned to a federal cost of $577 million and served 4.3 million people a month. In 1980, the cost had skyrocketed to a staggering $8.4 billion, serving 19.2 million Americans. In 1990, the cost had escalated to $15.5 billion (with an average of 20.1 million served a month).

    According to a 2008 New York Times story, an overwhelming 28 million Americans a month are projected to have received food stamps throughout the 2009 fiscal year.

    From 392,400 people to 28,000,000—we’ve come a long way since the Great Depression.

    The food stamps program and other “entitlement” programs demonstrate nothing less than the so-called “ratchet-effect”—every time the federal government cranks the ratchet and increases “entitlements,” there’s no going back the other way. The ratchet only cranks in one direction. And the spending never stops.

    As Bill Wilson clearly puts it:

    “Soon entitlement spending will break the federal treasury and saddle the American people with an insurmountable bill that can never possibly be paid. In fact, we will not even be able to keep up with our interest payments…

    It is, without a doubt, the most uncontrolled, profligate, unaffordable and unsustainable portion of the budget.”

    It’s time for the American people to sit their elected leaders down and have an honest-to-goodness intervention. The political elite must be told to quit their out-of-control spending before they bring us all down—and not just through gradual cutbacks.

    We’re talking cold turkey.

    It may be tough, for sure. But that would be nothing compared to disaster that awaits the nation should the politicians continue their unbridled spending spree addiction.

    In short, the voracious monkey on the politicians’ back is eating the American people out of house and home. And it’s high time to intervene.

    William Warren is the Creative Director of Americans for Limited Government.

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