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So, the Obama faction’s media claque has finally discovered language in the U.S. Constitution they aren’t willing to ignore. In the context of the ongoing debate over raising the limit on how much debt the U.S. government may lawfully incur, some of the usual suspects are now suggesting that Section 4 of Article XIV (aka the 14th Amendment) means there’s a constitutional obligation to pile on more debt. It specifies that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.”
Hallelujah! Despite frequent and ongoing evidence of dyslexia with respect to any constitutional language that limits the expansion of centralized power (such as the 10th Amendment) or the arbitrary will of simple electoral majorities (such as the eligibility requirements for the presidency), the elitist idolaters of unchecked (i.e., tyrannical) power have finally found some words in the Supreme Law of the Land they’re unwilling to treat with utter contempt.
No one risks a heart attack, though, upon learning that this brief remission in their chronic constitutional myopia just happens to promote the astonishing discovery that it’s unconstitutional to impose a limit on U.S. government debt. The Obama claque claims, therefore, that the executive may ignore the legislature when it comes to increasing debt in the same way that (again, according to them) he may ignore them when it comes to starting the wars such license may be abused to finance. So much for the legislative power of the purse and the check on executive tyranny it is supposed to represent.
Obviously, the fact that they’ve temporarily overcome their inability to read doesn’t mean that the Obama worshippers have found a remedy for their rather more acute inability to think. Or is it their arrogant assumption that (given the Obama-endorsing NEA’s hatchet job on our children’s education) the rest of us no longer know how? For starters, since the Constitution vests the lawmaking power of the U.S. government in the U.S. Congress, what sense does it make to assume that language which forbids questioning public debt that has been “authorized by law” somehow keeps Congress from limiting indebtedness in the content of the law or laws that express the authorization?
The Republicans in Congress have the budgetary “nuclear” option at their disposal! Let them know you expect them to use it by sending a message to all 241 GOP House members via the “No More Red Ink” campaign
Theoretically, there might be a conflict in the law if the amount required to service the total debt implied by particular legislative acts consumed all available revenue, making it literally impossible to service the debt without borrowing in excess of the general limit specified in the debt-ceiling legislation. But at present the amount required to service the debt absorbs only one-sixth of the U.S. government’s total revenues.
Despite the assertion that it’s somehow illogical to compare the U.S. government’s situation to that of indebted individuals, the comparison is both sensible and irresistible. The Obama claque is anxious to avoid the comparison because it reveals the illogic involved in assuming that a limit on borrowing necessarily involves actions that make it impossible to fulfill one’s debt obligations. So we’re to believe that when individuals borrow in order to keep spending more than they take in, that’s a bad sign, but when government does so it’s a sign of good faith? Doesn’t it make sense in either case to cut up the credit cards and concentrate on paying down the debts while bringing spending into line with projected revenues?
When individual people or businesses finally hit the wall and can no longer extend their credit, in addition to cutting their spending they may also liquidate some of their assets. They sell some of their possessions including, usually as a last resort, their home, headquarters or other real estate. Not long ago, I read a thought provoking piece by Robert Murphy in which he suggests that the U.S. government could do the same thing, instead of aggravating the present crisis with more borrowing.
Such steps usually work out better when done as a matter of strategic foresight, rather than as part of desperate efforts to stave off inevitable financial collapse. Given the need to safeguard the security and sovereignty of the American people, such strategic foresight is imperative when acting in the public interest. (We don’t want to wake up and find that China has paid fire-sale prices to become the proprietor of half the country’s territory and all its gold, for example.) But shifting responsibility for the administration of more of America’s capital from government bureaucracy to the private sector could transform the crisis of U.S. government solvency into a result that strengthens the material basis for American self-government, especially if the sale of assets was conducted in a way that allowed ordinary American earners to expand their participation in capital ownership.
Instead of coercing people to finance the government with more taxation, this would draw private funds into public service on a voluntary basis that preserved the good faith and credit of the American people as a whole while expanding the wealth base of individual Americans. Instead of a government that owns the people by exerting control over more and more of their available resources, we would expand the people’s ownership of the nation’s assets, and with it their ability to control themselves and the government that is supposedly subject to their sovereign will.
Instead of the Obama claque’s specious and illogical abuse of constitutional language, this approach would at one and the same time contribute to the nation’s solvency and strengthen the reality of republican self-government the Constitution aims to establish and perpetuate. It would also contribute materially to the sense of self-confidence Americans will need to turn decisively away from the siren song of government dependency, and harken instead to the conscientious voice that reasserts the sense of personal responsibility and independence that is properly the mentality of a free people. This restoration of moral sensibility ought to be the indispensable goal not only of American fiscal policy but of American statesmanship in general. In this way we will safeguard rather than discard the blessings of liberty. Instead of mouthing constitutional phrases to justify executive prerogatives that destroy constitutional government, we will respect and implement its purpose, heart and spirit.