While Barack Obama is still busy explaining how we all misunderstood his comments about how Israel’s pre-1967 borders form the basis for a permanent peace in the Middle East, I think most of the world knows exactly what he meant.
He means that he supports the position of Israel’s enemies who seek to perpetrate a second great genocidal campaign against the Jews – this time by exterminating half of the world’s Jewish population that lives in the Jewish state.
I know some people will judge that statement harshly.
But, let’s face it, there’s a reason the pre-1967 borders led to a war that year – Israel’s enemies believed they could vanquish the Jews and, as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel-Nasser famously explained about his intentions, “drive them into the sea.”
It’s not that there aren’t times we should look backward for solutions to seemingly intractable problems. As I suggested in yesterday’s column, I’d like to see Israel assume its pre-’67 borders again, as long as we’re talking about the borders of A.D. 67, not 1967.
Here’s another suggestion for Obama on how we might fix some serious economic dislocation in this country by looking back to 1967.
How about we adopt as a model the federal budget put forward that year by a solidly Democratic Congress and a very liberal president who launched the Great Society campaign and the infamous War on Poverty? No one ever accused Johnson of being a fiscal conservative or a budget disciplinarian.
During the penultimate year of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s administration, the total budget for the federal government in 1967 was $145 billion – allowing for a comfortable $500 million surplus. That compares with trillions in spending today – with no budget and $14.3 trillion in debt.
No question about it, comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges, Johnson and the Democrats of 1967 would make Paul Ryan look like a socialist by comparison.
Keep in mind in 1967 we were mired in the middle of the nation’s last big foreign war – with about a half-million U.S. soldiers in Vietnam.
We were also experiencing, as a nation, the longest period of sustained economic growth since World War II. Barry Goldwater and the nascent conservative movement were in an uproar about spending.
Some would argue that 1967 was a long time ago – 44 years – and the country has changed significantly since then. But population is only up about 50 percent since 1967, so let’s allow for a 50 percent increase in the budget as well. I’m willing to be reasonable, even though I agree with the late Barry Goldwater that the U.S. federal government was already exceeding its constitutional limits in power 44 years ago.
If we allowed for a 50 percent increase in the budget, commensurate with population growth, we would be looking at a $217 billion budget. I’m even willing to index that number for inflation, which works out to $1.4 trillion in 2010 dollars.
Today, Obama and his Democratic friends in Congress – as well as too many Republicans – say they can’t possibly get along with the more than $2 trillion in tax revenues the government will collect this year. They want to be able to borrow at least another trillion or two.
Advocates of more government spending and borrowing, like dreamer Johnson, still believe they can end poverty and form a Great Society if only we unshackle government from its constitutional moorings. They believe the world as we know it will end if government’s limitless credit card is destroyed.
So, if Obama wants to return to the good old days of 1967 to achieve peace in the Middle East, I would like to suggest we also return to the good old days of 1967 to bring government spending and power under control.