Summer is coming, and many of us are thinking about going on a diet to get into swimsuit shape. Don’t do it, because you will die. Diets are instantly and inevitably fatal.
I have arrived at this conclusion because (1) I’m hungry and (2) I’ve been listening to Democrat rhetoric about the consequences of failing to raise our national debt ceiling.
We’re about to plow into the current ceiling, unless Congress can hammer out a continuing budget resolution, to extend temporary funding past the end of this week. If we don’t make immediate arrangements to go further into debt, Democrats assure us, the government will shut down.
They want more than a piddling two-week extension, because “providing only 14 days for all parties to resolve their differences in a full-year measure is not realistic,” as Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA) told the Associated Press. “Setting up a shutdown crisis every two weeks disrupts the continuity of good government operations and long-term planning. It is not a responsible way to govern.” As opposed to wild and unrestrained spending that racks up a $14 trillion national debt, or a budget that proposes spending even more billions on boondoggles like high-speed rail, written by the President who poured a trillion-dollar “stimulus” into slush funds and rat holes. If you look up “responsible” in the dictionary, you see all that, plus a picture of Charlie Sheen.
So what’s this government shutdown going to be like? Well, if we leave all federal spending frozen at current levels, interest on our debt and rising entitlement costs will continue to pile up. The interest on the debt works out to about thirty billion dollars per month, which is about 0.7% of our $3.83 trillion federal budget. Reducing spending by this much would be the equivalent of a 300-pound person going on a diet and losing two pounds… and according to the Democrats, such a diet will be instantly fatal for the federal government, causing it to immediately shut down.
What would actually happen is that Congress would be obliged to terminate peripheral services and make immediate spending cuts across the board. Vital services don’t have to be compromised at all, any more than the 300-pound dieter needs to lose that two pounds out of his heart muscle or brain tissue. There are a lot of places where a $3.83 trillion budget can be trimmed before the police and military would have to stand down.
Also, the government owns a gigantic amount of assets it can sell to raise cash if necessary, and plenty of American businessmen would line up to submit bids. Among other things, Uncle Sam is the world’s greatest real estate baron, owning more than half of the land in states like Nevada and Alaska. Some of this land contains useful resources, such as oil, which companies would be happy to pay for… provided they are allowed to develop it, of course.
The problem for the caretakers of Big Government – not all of whom are Democrats, by any stretch of the imagination – is that accurately describing the consequences of leaving the debt ceiling alone doesn’t produce a nice scary sound bite that will panic the electorate. Telling them we must go further into debt, or the government will be forced to drastically cut spending and privatize assets, would send entirely the wrong message.
That is why we are given the impression our massive central government will instantly drop dead, if we don’t pour billions of gallons in red ink down its gullet. Better to give the Congress that behaved as if a “historic” $60 billion in cuts was the equivalent of pulling out its own teeth with a set of pliers more time to ponder the situation. Diets are fatal.