A.J. DiCintio
Principles and budget reform
By A.J. DiCintio
February 26, 2012

Last week I wrote about how the record shows that Barack Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party's power structure are incorrigibly devoted to the liberal dogma that preaches the need for ever bigger, more powerful, more costly, more indebted government, closing by saying I'd next offer some thoughts about how the U.S. can avoid the debt-induced devastation that will begin, according to financial expert John Mauldin, in just "a few years." (frontlinethoughts.com)

First, however, this succinct statement from Mauldin about the reason for the ravages certain to occur when America's participation in the world's "Debt Supercycle" comes to an end:

NO country can run deficits the size we are currently running, along with unfunded deficits [think Medicare, Social Security, federal pensions] over four times the size of the economy and a growing overall debt burden, without consequences.

As a matter of fact, those consequences will be dire; for the unhappy truth is that when the cost of servicing a $15.4 trillion debt increasing annually by $1.3 trillion rises dramatically, as it surely will, Reality will agonize over the economic pain and social upheaval it inflicts upon America with the same hard, remorseless detachment it is exhibiting over Greece's current misery.

Yet, the Liberal Establishment continues its long history of being shamelessly AWOL in the battle to get spending, deficits, and debt under control, giving rise to the fact that at least for this election, the Republican Party represents the only real hope for getting this nation on a sensible fiscal path.

So, how should a Republican leader who says he agrees with George Washington that fiscal integrity must be among government's highest priorities proceed if he is to have a real chance of achieving his goal?

Well, in harmony with what every great thinker has said or written, he must conform his behavior to Emerson's "triumph of principles," including the principle that teaches there is no transfer, a fundamental truth that can be explained as follows:

If you want people to understand something (actually, anything), you can't simply hope they'll somehow figure it out. You've got to communicate it explicitly.

For instance, if you want children to learn about honesty, you can't simply hope they'll somehow "get it" from their experiences, you must engage them in a precise discussion of the whats, whys, and hows associated with the virtue.

With respect, then, to the problem at hand, here's the first statement a Republican leader must make to the American people:

"You are right to have no faith in Washington when it comes to wisely and fairly solving the problem of the nation's deadly addiction to spending and debt. That's why before I turn my attention to putting Social Security and Medicare on a sound long-term footing, I intend to earn your trust by instituting policies that . . .

(1) energize the economy and bring good jobs lost through unfair trade back to America, thereby increasing tax revenues and reducing the deficit

(2) cut the deficit by hundreds of billions annually through elimination of waste, duplication, and unnecessary departments wherever they exist in the federal bureaucracy

(3) reform the federal tax code in a manner that makes it work for the good of the people, not the good of a special few, with any increased revenues devoted exclusively to reducing debt

(4) raise taxes only if every other means of bringing the budget into balance fails."

Now, it is true that significantly reducing the size and cost of government will increase unemployment and depress GDP in the short term.

However, as the current situation in Greece demonstrates all too vividly, there is no good or easy solution available to a country faced with the problem of reducing its rampaging spending and debt, only a solution that is economically sound, practicable, and least painful.

That is the case regarding the strategy just suggested.

First, because agreeing to it requires the leader to heed the warning implicit in the ancient maxim, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

In more specific terms, it requires him to work on his goal one hard step at a time, rejecting the lure of Arrogance that urges politicians to pursue foolish, dangerous, pompously titled, grand solutions such as one that purports to create a society so omnipotently "great" it will once and for all win a "War on Poverty" or one that promises to institute a world order so bravely "new" that the millennium pales in comparison.

His reward, of course, will be that the public will regard his humility and his honesty as a welcomed breath of clean, fresh air.

Second, because the strategy requires a leader to behave in accordance with the principle of rhetoric that requires choosing the specific over the general, a tenet that in this case means being detailed and precise about the whats and whys of every cut made or every tax increased.

This specificity is also certain to win over the public, for as the polls reveal, the American people are disgusted with the shamelessly ambiguous gobbledygook babbled by politicians who regularly sell out their nation with the kind of fiscal fakery Shah Gilani (moneymorning.com) mocks with the phrase "extend and pretend."

Third, because the plan requires leaders to understand and communicate honestly to the public the reality that the federal government's fiscal problems must be solved moderately over a period of years.

Steady progress must be the rule; for even if we could cut a trillion dollars from the budget in a single year, we would forbear from doing so the moment we realize such an act would thrust us into the same whirling death spiral in which debt-choked, austerity-crippled, recession-bound Greece finds itself.

With mention of the public, there is one final thing to say.

As the current Greek tragedy reveals, in a democracy neither a leader nor a party alone can end an addiction to the insidious, deadly narcotic that is madly reckless spending and insanely irresponsible borrowing, for only the people themselves can create a political climate that makes rehabilitation possible.

That reality ought to motivate every Republican, conservative, independent, libertarian and moderate Democrat to imagine Emerson's closing lines to "Self-Reliance" as also saying this:

"Nothing can save our nation from devastation by debt but ourselves. Nothing can save our nation but the triumph of principles."

© A.J. DiCintio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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