The House passed a budget deal yesterday which raises the debt ceiling in exchange for certain budgetary concessions from the White House. This agreement has been greeted with mixed reviews. The moderates in both parties cheered Kevin McCarthy for his leadership on this deal, but the more extremes in both parties think it’s a travesty. The rightwing Republicans said that McCarthy did not get enough cuts in spending while the leftwing Democrats claim that Biden agreed to too much spending cuts. Many conservatives believe that McCarthy could have gotten more out of this deal than he did, but are taking heart that at least, he did not agree to a flat raise of the debt ceiling without any concessions.
In reality, it doesn’t really matter what the budget deal they agreed on actually looks like, it is not going to solve our problems. It is not even a first step in solving our problems. Just the idea that we are going to raise the debt ceiling at all when we already have repeatedly raised the debt ceiling over and over again in the last 40 years to accrue $31.5 trillion of debt, is an absolute joke. When you have $31.5 trillion of debt, does it matter if you increase that debt by $4 trillion or $6 trillion over the next 5 years? Does that mean anything? Of course not. If you’re already drowning in a pool, does it matter if the hose is turned on or not?
The fact that we have $31.5 trillion of debt, and very few politicians in Washington and no one in the mainstream media cares, and they all are cheering the raising of the debt ceiling proves that our country is too far gone to fix. We are now in a slow decline until we crash and burn. This is going to be the new normal – trillion-dollar deficits every year coupled with phony promises and empty talking points of fiscal responsibility until our whole financial system collapses. And we can’t solely blame the Democrats. Remember, the Republicans did not reduce the deficit very much in Trump’s first two years when he had a Republican controlled House and Senate. And Republicans did reduce the deficit in any of the years when George W. Bush was President and he had a Republican House and Senate. They all love the gravy train. Republicans had to repay their millionaire and billionaire donors as much as the Democrats did.
In reality, nothing substantive will ever be accomplished on the debt or the deficit, because the United States citizens as a whole will never elect politicians who are fiscally responsible enough to do so because the American people are not fiscally responsible. The problem is not simply that the politicians are addicted to deficit spending which they are; our citizenry is also addicted to deficit spending. Americans are currently carrying $930.6 billion in credit card debt alone. If we want something, we go and buy it whether we have the money or not, and the politicians in Washington are doing the same. That is the American mentality these days.
So, we will never legitimately cut our deficit or our debt. Never, because the goal of the federal government over the last 50 years has been to create dependency on the federal government, which it has done a masterful job of. The American people are dependent on the government; we enjoy the gravy train of government spending as much as the politicians. So, nothing will ever happen to rein in our fiscal irresponsibility. We are caught in a death spiral that is too scary to pull ourselves out of. The politicians fear that they will lose elections if they cut spending, and the voters fear they will lose government benefits if they vote for politicians who will cut spending. The American people want all the goodies that the government provides without raising taxes and without incurring debt. We are living in La La Land. We hate the government when they come for our tax dollars; we hate the government when it accrues $31.5 trillion of debt, but we love the government when it is doling out benefits.
One may argue, ‘there are important things that the government needs to spend on that I support, I just don’t like the wasteful spending.’ That’s absolutely correct, and everyone agrees on that. The problem is that not everyone of the 150 million people who voted in the last election will agree on which government spending is vital and which is wasteful. So, everyone votes for the politicians who will support the spending they believe is important, and the politician who agrees to give everything to everybody is the one who the most people will vote for and the one who will likely get elected.
As Alexander Fraser Tytler said in the 18th century, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.”
We are in the dependency stage right now, and we are staring bondage in the face. And no one cares because freedom and true liberty are much too hard. When the Israelites were wandering in the desert after being freed from slavery, they begged Moses to bring them back to Egypt because the safety and security of bondage was less frightening than the unknowns and uncertainty of freedom. During Covid, most Americans chose the security of the authoritarian rule of the government over uncertainty of freedom. We allowed the government to lock us in our homes, put masks on our faces, shut down our schools, businesses and churches because freedom was much too scary. We allowed the government to censor us on social media because freedom of speech is too scary.
To reduce spending the way we need in order to get our fiscal house in order requires drastic cuts in government spending that too many of us are too dependent on. So, we will continue to vote for leaders who will continue to promise to give us the things we need because true freedom and liberty are much too hard. And at some point, in the future, we will get the dictatorship we deserve, the dictatorship we voted for.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.