BURNET, Texas (June 26) – There are several times in my life, more than I care to remember, that I have gone into debt. Who hasn’t? Sometimes I just made bad decisions. But every time I went into debt I alone was responsible for getting myself out of the hole. If you find yourself in a hole that is already too deep and you want to get out, the first thing any sane person does is stop digging. If you’re deep in debt, the first thing to do is — stop spending. That’s what responsible people do.
Apparently however, when someone is elected to office they forget or disregard this simple fact of life. They don’t remember what it’s like to live within their means and to balance a budget. They forget that the simplest, surest and only real way to get out of debt is to stop spending. The spectacle of the Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington D.C. purportedly struggling over the seemingly monumental issue of raising the debt ceiling illustrates just how far out of touch the president and Congressional leaders are with the basic economic realities faced by average Americans every day.
Even the name they use to identify the issue, “debt ceiling,” is an example of the way politicians manipulate words to mask reality. The debt ceiling is merely an artificial cap set by Congress on the amount of money the federal government can legally borrow. It was first set in 1917, but has been raised more than 100 times since then, proving that it’s really not a ceiling at all, not even a glass ceiling, but actually as “high as the sky.”
Amazingly, for nearly a century and a half, the United States survived and thrived without a debt ceiling. The federal government lived within its means; Congress had to approve every instance of government debt case-by-case. If the president wanted to spend more money than the federal government collected in taxes, he had to ask Congress for permission. In other words, the government operated just like any business or family.
Sadly, the same politicians who have bankrupted our county are morally and intellectually bankrupt as well. Not only do they lack the courage needed to repair the damage they’ve inflicted on our nation, both parties act like spoiled children each blaming the other for breaking open the cookie jar. In typical fashion, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has attempted to frighten the American people by telling Congress that raising the debt ceiling was essential “to protect the full faith and credit of the United States and avoid catastrophic economic consequences for citizens.”
The truth is we are heading into economic catastrophe anyway precisely because of the irresponsible actions and spending addiction of both Democrats and Republicans, and their unwillingness to address the real problem — unlimited, unrealistic and unsustainable spending for defense and entitlements. Trying to cure our economic ails by raising the debt ceiling is like trying to deal with an opiate addiction by prescribing more morphine. Borrowing more money will only make the problem worse. Remember, when you’re already too deep in a hole, stop digging!
The United States does not have to raise our debt ceiling. We simply must stop spending money. The truth is we cannot even begin to reduce our debt by slowing spending, lowering spending or even cutting spending. Nor can we “nickel-and-dime” our way out of the problem. We must stop the spending.
It’s easy and popular to go after programs like earmarks, subsidies, tax credits and foreign aid, but these are only a small part of the federal budget. We must stop spending on items that make up 60 to 75 percent of the federal budget — defense and entitlements. Until we elect leaders with the courage to address spending in these areas we’ll never be able to get the debt under control, let alone reduce it. One thing is certain, both for individuals and for our nation, we will never solve our debt problem by going even deeper into debt.
R. Lee Wrights, 53, a libertarian writer and political activist, is seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. To that end he has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states. Wrights is a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party and co-founder and editor of of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., he now lives and works in Texas.
Contact: Brian Irving, press secretary