Tonight George W. Bush and Al Gore square off in their second debate.
They will argue over many things. But underlying their arguments will
be many false assumptions. Since the assumptions are wrong, their
proposals are meaningless, and you should be forewarned.
Here are eight such fallacies:
The Budget Surplus
Fallacy No. 1: There is a budget surplus. Each candidate will
tell you how he plans to use the surplus — proposing a combination of
tax cuts, new spending programs, paying down the national debt, saving
Social Security, and so on. But there is no surplus, and so all those
plans are meaningless.
Here are the federal budgets for the past 10 years:
Federal Budget, 1991-2000, in billions of dollars; click for
The deficits are shrinking, but there still is no surplus. The
Social Security receipts are larger than Social Security payments, and
the excess is being lent to the general fund to create a phony surplus.
Ignored in any discussion of the “surplus” is the fact that the overall
federal debt continues to rise year by year.
Neither Al Gore nor George Bush will say “When we have a
surplus;” they will act as though the surplus already exists. So you
shouldn’t pay any attention to what they plan to do with the surplus.
If either of them really wanted to generate a true budget surplus,
they would propose reductions in government spending. But only a Libertarian
president is likely to do that.
Fallacy No. 2: We are saving Social Security. Whatever plan
Mr. Bush or Mr. Gore offers to make Social Security safe, it’s a
misrepresentation. You can’t save something while you’re stealing from
it. Since all the excess Social Security receipts are being used to
paper over the deficit in the general fund, there’s no cash in the
Social Security Trust Fund for future payments.
When Social Security payments begin to exceed receipts in a few
years, money from the general budget will have to pay off the IOUs held
by Social Security. But the politicians will have used up the phony
“surplus” with spending increases and tax cuts.
Social Security will be “saved” or reformed only when it’s taken
completely away from the politicians, and you’re allowed to keep the
money yourself — to do with as you think best.
That’s why a vote for a Republican or a Democrat is truly a wasted
vote. Only Libertarians are proposing that you should be completely
free from Social Security.
Fallacy No. 3: Welfare reform was a great triumph. Both major
parties are trying to take credit for the welfare reform program the
Republican Congress passed and the Democratic President approved. They
want you to believe that this “reform” has reduced considerably the
terrible burden of welfare spending.
But here’s what the federal government has spent on welfare over the
past 10 years, in billions of dollars:
Welfare spending, 1991-2000, in billions of dollars. All figures in this article are taken from the August issue
Oh yes, you’ve heard that the number of welfare recipients has
declined. But politicians don’t stop spending money on a shrinking
program. In fact, in many parts of America, federal, state, and local
governments are advertising for new welfare recipients.
Welfare must be taken completely out of the hands of the federal
government. Otherwise, the politicians will continue to defraud you and
take your money.
Fallacy No. 4: My tax cuts will save you money. Between the
general fund and Social Security, the politicians have budgeted $1.8
trillion in expenditures for the 2000 fiscal year. (The 2001 budget will
be even larger.)
Who’s going to pay the $1.8 trillion? The Russians? The Martians?
Of course not. You and I and almost every other American will have to
cough up $1.8 trillion for that obscene budget.
Unless there is a decrease in spending, any “tax cut” simply
rearranges the burden of big government; it doesn’t reduce it. “Tax
cuts” are a shell game, pure and simple.
Neither candidate is proposing to reduce government spending. Neither
one has called for the elimination (or even reduction) of any government
program, department, or agency. Quite the contrary, both Mr. Bush and
Mr. Gore are proposing to increase the size, expense, intrusiveness, and
oppression of government.
You will get real tax relief only when you get real spending relief.
Again, only Libertarians are proposing real reductions in government
Fallacy No. 5: I will strengthen (or preserve) our national
Today America has the strongest national offense in history. Our
government can annihilate any country of the world, bully any nations
into doing our president’s bidding, terrify our allies and enemies
But we have a very weak national defense. We can’t protect this
country against any two-bit dictator who gets his hands on a nuclear
missile. And neither major candidate has any kind of workable plan to
make us safer.
Both candidates claim to support a missile defense. But the Defense
Department has spent $100 billion and 17 years trying to create one,
with very little progress. We must realize that the Defense Department
is just another bureaucratic government agency — the Post Office in
fatigues. It is the least efficient place to turn for a missile defense.
If I become president, I will post a reward of, say, $25 billion —
to go to the first private company that actually produces a missile
defense and proves that it works. I think we could have one within three
or four years.
To make this country safe, we must quit meddling in other countries’
affairs, so we quit creating enemies and terrorists; we must reduce the
number of offensive weapons that are terrifying the world; we must bring
the troops home from nearly a hundred foreign countries (we are not the
Roman Empire); we must have a defense against incoming missiles; and we
must have a smaller but better-qualified and better-paid fighting force
that can defend us in the event of a surface attack.
All this should cost much less than is being spent now, while making
you and your family much safer. I do not want your children to fight and
die in a foreign war.
Supreme Court Justices
Fallacy No. 6: There’s a significant difference in the Supreme
Court justices Bush or Gore would appoint. In fact, there’s very
little difference between them — just as there’s very little difference
between Republican judges Anthony Kennedy and David Souter on the one
hand, and Democrats Stephen Breyer and Ruth Ginsberg on the other.
Mr. Bush, for example, says he’ll appoint “strict constructionists”
to the bench. But in Texas he has appointed a number of activist judges
— the very kind Republicans claim to oppose.
All we want from a Supreme Court justice is the ability to read and
understand the plain words of the Constitution. When the First Amendment
says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press” that’s what it means — and thus it is unconstitutional
to censor the Internet, prohibit tobacco advertising, or limit political
advocacy. When the Second Amendment says, “the right of the people to
keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” that’s what it means — and
thus all the gun-control laws on the books are unconstitutional.
You will get Supreme Court justices who will honor the Constitution
and restore your liberty only when you get a president who believes more
in your liberty than he does in big government. So we’d better get
started now doing whatever is necessary to elect such a President — no
matter how long you think it might take.
Fallacy No. 7: One or the other candidate is for smaller
government. Neither candidate has proposed any plan to make
government smaller. In the first debate neither candidate uttered the
word “liberty” or the word “freedom” even once.
Both candidates have emphasized over and over the new programs they
want to impose upon you. As a few examples, they both want to add a
boondoggle prescription drug plan to the disastrous Medicare program,
Bush wants to enlarge welfare by giving your money to private charities
of his choice, Gore is proposing a new pre-school program — and both
want to expand the Department of Education, as well as step up the
insane War on Drugs.
Both are big-spending politicians. Bush enlarged the budget in Texas,
Gore was named the No. 1 big-spender in the Senate by the National
Taxpayers Union. Neither has ever done a single thing to get government
out of your life. And neither is proposing anything specific or
realistic to do so now.
And don’t look to either party to pressure its candidate to reduce
government. The Republicans have increased spending during their five
years in control of Congress at a rate of 3.2 percent per year, while
the Democrats in the previous five years increased spending by 3.9
percent a year — hardly a significant difference. Spending during
George Bush Sr.’s four years as president increased by 4.3 percent per
year, while spending during Clinton’s seven years in office has
increased by 3.2 percent per year.
You will get smaller government only when you vote for and elect a
candidate who believes that the federal government should be prohibited
from doing anything not authorized in the Constitution — someone who
has the will and determination to reduce government dramatically.
Neither Mr. Gore nor Mr. Bush qualify.
I am the only candidate determined to restore limited, smaller,
constitutional government. I have no grand schemes to promote, and don’t
pretend I know what’s best for you and 270 million other people.
Fallacy No. 8: There’s a difference in character between the
candidates. This may be the biggest fallacy of all. Bush and Gore
are each trying to sell you on the idea that his character is superior
to Bill Clinton’s.
But Clinton’s biggest moral flaw is his inability to tell the truth.
And neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Gore has demonstrated any regard for the
truth. The fallacies I’ve listed here (and a more complete listing would
make this article far too long) show that neither one is reluctant to
perpetuate fraudulent assumptions. The only excuse either can offer is
that he isn’t aware that the assumptions are false — in which case his
ignorance makes him unfit to be president.
It’s simple: both Al Gore and George Bush are too dishonest to be
considered, or too ignorant to be qualified. You aren’t going to get
what you want by electing a politician who won’t even tell the truth about the
current state of government or his intentions for the presidency.
What Do You Want?
You have to ask yourself what you want in a President. Do you just
want someone — anyone — from the party you’ve voted for in the
past. If so, either Bush or Gore qualifies.
But if you believe government is way too big, too expensive, too
intrusive, and too oppressive, you’re making a terrible mistake by
voting for either of these two men. Neither one will reverse the trend
toward bigger government. In fact, either one will continue it.
You can not go east by moving toward the west.
You cannot get smaller government by electing a big-government
politician to the presidency.
You cannot make a politician or a party reform itself toward smaller
government by rewarding it for making government bigger.
The only way you will ever get what you want is by voting only for
those who offer specific proposals to make government smaller — and
whose proposals are not contradicted by a history of making government
Libertarians want you to be free of the income tax by making
government so small there’s no need for an income tax. They want you to
be released from Social Security immediately and completely. They want
to end the insane War on Drugs that is tearing our cities apart with
violence, and serving as an excuse to deny every American citizen the
Bill of Rights — every American, not just those involved with
You may not win this year by voting Libertarian, but you’ll be
helping to get closer to the day when you will win — when you do get
smaller government. And when you leave the voting booth, you won’t feel
as though you need to take a shower.
But by voting for big-government Republicans or Democrats, you’re
guaranteeing that you’ll never be free.
Which do you want? Isn’t it time to take a stand?