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Next year, Americans will get to elect a new president and a new Congress.

They’ll get to choose between the tax-and-spend party and the spend-and-tax party.

That’s pretty much the choice represented by the two major political parties — at least if recent past performance will be the primary means of defining the competition.

Things used to be more confusing. The Republicans formerly at least made a pretense toward being a party that could agree on one thing — “fiscal conservatism.” It wasn’t really true then, but it has become something of a joke in 1999.

Today, both parties are pushing record new spending programs — across-the-board raises, pork for farmers, more money even for the unconstitutional Education Department. Republicans aren’t even talking about eliminating such agencies as the National Endowment for the Arts, which misuses taxpayer money for political and social propaganda of the most offensive kind.

The excuse for this largesse is a so-called budget surplus, a fraud for which the “watchdogs” in the establishment press is complicit.

More than a year ago, this cyber-paper exposed that sham. Only now are a handful of pundits beginning to catch on.

The facts are simple. There is no surplus. In fact, the budget is operating in a deficit and has been throughout the Clinton administration. In normal times, you could count on the opposition party to expose such highjinks. But these are not normal times. The Republicans control both houses of Congress. The Democrats control the White House. At some point, the leadership of both parties decided it would be in their best interest to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people, lie to them about a budget surplus and then go about the business of spending freely on their pet projects.

I believe the Republicans in Congress perpetrated the fraud because they wanted to get credit for the “balanced budget.” But they obviously forgot they were dealing with one of the most skillful and deceitful politicians in history in Bill Clinton. Because he is a better liar than anyone on the Hill — Democrat or Republican — he has been successful in getting all the kudos for the non-existent surplus.

And now, as a lame-duck president, he’s determined to spend that non-existent surplus like there is no tomorrow. Maybe he knows something we don’t know?

Clinton’s behavior, of course, should surprise no one. In fact, neither should the Republicans’ actions. Americans just simply have to get used to the idea that their political and social salvation is not going to come from Washington. And the current budget debate ought to serve as an illustration of why.

Listen to this senior Republican aide quoted in The New York Times last weekend: “My party is committed to spending restraint. But trying to build restraint into a system that is crying out for additional spending is very difficult.”

The very fact that even one senior Republican staffer believes such nonsense should disqualify the GOP from being taken seriously as a political alternative to the Democrats. But the reality is that such views are commonly held inside the beltway.

The system is not crying out for more spending. It is crying out for major slashing. It is crying out for dismantling. It is crying out for radical surgery.

Here are the facts that your congress-critters are not telling you. Here’s what you are not getting from the establishment press. While we keep hearing about a $107 billion budget surplus this year, the reality is that there is a $19 billion deficit. The difference is entirely money collected and earmarked for the Social Security Trust Fund.

In effect, the Democrats and Republicans are advocating stealing this money that was confiscated from the American people under false pretenses.

All the bickering in Washington is a smokescreen, a false dichotomy. Social Security is an incredibly inefficient bureaucratic disaster waiting to happen. It’s a Ponzi scheme. And sooner or later, it’s going to collapse like a house of cards. It should never have been created, and now that it has been, the only real solution is privatizing it.

But no one in Washington even talks about such ideas — not seriously anyway. Instead they debate how much more of your money they need to grab to create new, equally inefficient bureaucratic disasters for the future.

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