There is a particularly unsettling truth about Thomas Jefferson. That truth is that, for a man who railed against government acting outside of its constitutional bounds, he sure was not averse to acting outside of the Constitution's bounds when it suited him. To put it simply, Jefferson’s anger at big government was, at most times, inversely proportional to his level of power within said government. The higher the office he held, the less likely he was to bemoan limits on government. Nothing better illustrates this fact than the Louisiana Purchase.
It was 1803. Jefferson was President. Napoleon had failed to re-enslave Haiti after the slave revolt undid the French claim to the island nation. The need for large amounts of territory in the New World to feed and support that territory was unnecessary and Napoleon wanted out of the Americas. Vast tracts of land then went on the market.
Jefferson, looking for something to do I suppose, saw the land west of the Mississippi as a great prize for America. He wanted to annex it. The only problem was that the Constitution of the United States did not give the federal government in general, and the President in particular, any authority to purchase the claim to this land. But Mr. Jefferson did it anyway. He spent $15 million dollars with no Constitutional authority. And he knew it too, because he specifically agreed that the Constitution did not provide for such an action. This meant it would have been properly left to the states themselves to do the purchase if they so wanted. But because Jefferson wanted this particular prize, he instead wrapped the purchase up under the nebulous cover of national security and went on to pat himself on the back.
The Republicans in Congress are going Thomas Jefferson on us now. When they were out of power they ranted and raved about the evils of big government. And now that they are in power again? Well, they are finding a myriad of ways to continue doing all sorts of unconstitutional things with our tax dollars. In an era where you cannot spit without hitting something funded by money illegally appropriated and spent on the federal level, Republicans are taking a scalpel to a tumor so big that it is smothering a once healthy body.
Last week was the March 4th deadline for when the government was set to run out of money. Only a previous continuing resolution kept it going this long. And what did the Republicans propose? Don’t laugh. They proposed a compromise with the Democrats and President Obama whereby they would pass another continuing resolution to allow the federal government to operate until March 18th. The only thing the liberals had to do is agree to a $4 billion cut in spending. And they did just that.
Wow. That $4 billion almost seems like real money.
But it is not. With hundreds of billions, if not trillions, in waste bloating our federal budget, this $4 billion cut in spending over the next two weeks amounts to just $2 billion per week.
Still think that is real money? Hah! You’d probably be insane enough to get involved in a land war in Asia or go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line too!
Let’s say that the Republicans keep this tactic going of exchanging a week of government operation for $2 billion in cuts. At the end of a year we would have saved $104 billion. With a federal deficit hovering likely around $1.2 to $1.5 trillion for fiscal year 2011 that $104 billion would still mean a deficit of around $1.1 to $1.4 trillion this year.
Yeah, and you thought they were talking real money here?
Let’s look back over how revenues to the federal government have grown over the past decade. Then let’s project them out over the next one until the year 2020. Meanwhile, let’s agree to keep cutting about $104 billion every year from the spending side of the equation. Doing this, it would take upwards of seven to ten years of give and take just to balance our federal budget. And that is assuming some growth in the economy and tax revenues over those years at a rate similar to the past decade, with all the ups and downs factored in. Meanwhile, over that same time we would add nearly five trillion dollars in total new debt to the fourteen trillion we already owe. Yes, before we could even begin running in the black and be able to start paying down the debt, our federal deficit would balloon to just about $19 trillion.
Segments of the Republican Party talked a good fight during the election. But what do we have now? We have that tough talk giving away to meager and meek action. The Republican Party, which is in power in the House of Representatives and controls the purse strings, is sitting around looking at all this spending and nodding that most of it is good. But they know they have to get rid of something because they promised to do so and the people are expecting it.
$4 billion sounds like a lot of money to the laypeople out in America. The Republicans want to see if that amount will stick and act to quell the anger at Washington’s spending ways. And if they must they will keep forcing this meager amount to be trimmed every couple of weeks or so until the people are appeased or, most likely, forget the troubles we face under a crushing national debt. These Republicans are doing just what Thomas Jefferson did when he railed against big government while sitting outside of it and then embracing it once he was elected to the highest office in the land.
The only proper response to this is to call it as it is. It is shameful.
Copyright ©2011 J.J. Jackson