Are Deficits Unpatriotic?


On the day before Independence Day 2008, Senator Barack Obama delivered this opinion of deficit spending at a campaign event:

The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents.  Number 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.

(Emphasis mine.)  President Obama has now added $4 trillion all by his lonesome… in less than half the time it took “Number 43.”  Does he still think deficits are “unpatriotic,” or is that the wrong word?

Sustained deficit spending is certainly irresponsible.  It’s one thing to overspend for a short time when faced with a massive national crisis, like a war or natural disaster.  Today, trillion-dollar deficits are an accepted fact of life in Washington, even after a big “deficit reduction deal.”  This means the government is willing to spend more money than it collects, in perpetuity. 

That’s a mockery of the American principle of restrained government.  For that matter, it makes a joke of the notion that government can centrally “plan” economic growth.  It can’t even plan its own growth.

Deficit spending is tyrannical.  It’s the ultimate form of taxation without representation, presenting children not yet born with bills they never had a chance to vote against.  It establishes programs that become permanent financial obligations for future Congresses.  When the people demand fiscal restraint from big-spending government, they’re told spending cuts are effectively impossible, because too many citizens depend on the deficit-financed programs, and too many government employees would lose their jobs.

Deficit spending is a lie.  The people are offered subsidies and benefits paid for with money that doesn’t exist.  When politicians speak of trillion-dollar “stimulus” programs, they’re distorting the free market with false information, and wielding economic influence they don’t really have.  Government attempts to create new markets out of thin air using deficit money, such as the “green jobs” disaster, amount to weaving a mirage with illusionary thread.

Our massive national debt, built through decades of deficit spending, makes America weak.  Increasing individual and corporate dependency on a rapidly growing government drains the vitality of the free market.  Unfriendly creditor nations like China gain unhealthy amounts of economic leverage over us.  Credit agencies like Standard & Poor’s become major players in public policy debates. 

Hundreds of billions of dollars per year are appropriated from taxpayers merely to finance our staggering debt – the ransom demand from yesterday’s broken promises.  If the interest we pay on the debt goes up, perhaps as a result of America’s downgraded credit rating, more billions will vanish, without providing any benefit to the taxpayers.

Very soon, we will feel the consequences from years of deficit spending, as unsustainable entitlement programs collapse… and the resulting social chaos will destroy us.  The day quickly approaches when Washington can’t borrow or print enough money to pretend it can function.  The last generation that might avoid the crash has come dangerously close to accepting sugary lies, peddled by those who seek political benefit from riding the dying system for a little longer.  When their illusions fail, there will be nowhere to register a complaint, and very little to discuss.

Does all of that add up to make deficit spending “unpatriotic?”  Barack Obama claimed to think so, four trillion dollars ago.