When Immigration and Customs Enforcement released hundreds of illegal aliens from deportation centers this week as a “cost-cutting” move to set the stage for a total of $85 billion in reduced spending at the federal level, it was part of an old trick developed by governments at the local, state and national level.
Governments hate to see their budgets cut. In fact, they hate to see them even remain the same – and they seldom do. Governments have a voracious appetite for power and money – your money.
So, on those extremely rare occasions when the people are successful at making even the smallest dent in government spending, government has ways of extorting the people.
I’ve seen this from my earliest days in reporting at the city council and school board level. Here’s the way it works. If a bond measure to borrow money for a city is voted down by the people, city officials will threaten to make cuts in the most popular and vital services – police, fire, ambulance and libraries.
Likewise, if a school board faces the same problem and the people vote down a big fat budget increase, the trustees will threaten to eliminate sports and music programs for children, rather than to cut administrative overhead.
That’s exactly the same game ICE played this week – but when the federal government plays high-stakes extortion, it’s a more dangerous game.
Keep in mind the federal government spends about $4 trillion a year. The sequestration cuts, first suggested by Barack Obama as a way to call the bluff of Republicans concerned about overspending and borrowing, reduce overall spending by about 2 percent.
So what does the government cut?
Does it cut the National Endowment for the Arts?
Does it cut the budget of National Public Radio?
Does it cut abortion subsidies?
Does it cut highly unpopular Planned Parenthood funding?
Does it cut enforcement of unpopular mandates in Obamacare that force Americans to dishonor their own religious convictions.
No, it doesn’t cut any of those things.
It cuts something it never wanted to do anyway – namely deport illegal aliens and policing of our borders.
The hope by government is always that its “subjects” will see the light and beg for that spending to be restored.
It often works.
But don’t fall for government extortion.
When we do, we are acknowledging that government officials are our bosses, rather than the other way around.
If they want to make poor choices, unpopular choices, call them on it and expose it. Vote the rascals out of office. In effect, they are blaming you for being too greedy with your own money and not sharing enough of it with government to do what you want government to do.
The problem is, government seldom responds to the wishes of the people anyway, which is why it is always in our best interest to dry up their financial resources and deny them power over the citizenry.
As House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., put it: “It’s abhorrent that President Obama is releasing criminals into our communities to promote his political agenda on sequestration. By releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets, the administration is needlessly endangering American lives.”
And that’s just the point.
When those criminals kill and maim American citizens, the administration will blame Republicans and taxpayers for not be willing to spend endlessly, literally without limit, on every government program, no matter how unconstitutional, wasteful, fraudulent, corrupt and abusive.
That’s the way the game works.
In any other area of life, we would call this extortion. Those responsible might be going to jail for it. But it’s just a way of life in government that resents any accountability to the people or to the rule of law.