The last time it occurred was 17 years ago. Now, after a debt deal failed to be reached in Congress before the month ended, a partial government shutdown started on Tuesday morning. As it begins, we ought to remind ourselves that we still shouldn’t expect Washington to learn anything from the experience.
In reality, the only reason a budget debate continues to come up year after year is because the US government is in the hole. It’s an institution in total denial, dead broke, with $16.7 trillion in debt and more than $125 trillion in unpaid future liabilities. The only way the government can continue to finance itself while going into more and more debt is by relying on the Federal Reserve and its printing presses. So-called “quantitative easing” which has appeared in recent years is little more than a time-tested increase in the supply of money, pulled out of nowhere, created only by an arbitrary government decree. So even after a government shutdown begins, don’t expect the impenetrable Leviathan in Washington to learn anything concerning the monster it truly is. On Sunday, even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had the irrational boldness to assert that “There’s [sic] no more cuts to make.” Maybe, just maybe, that’s why the government is always facing a debt crisis. It can’t control its voracious appetite. And it’s eating up our tax dollars like candy in the process.
To begin with, Mrs. Pelosi, there are at least 100 federal agencies that violate constitutionally-granted authority in the first place. How about starting with just a few of those? How about cutting out all of the interventionist military spending around the world? How about putting a stop to tyranny-enabling foreign aid? With $2.7 trillion in revenues this year, all that Congress needs to do is simply adopt the budget from 2004, and spending would immediately be balanced. The problem? Nobody’s willing to do even that. Why, that budget is draconian!
Truly, there’s not a single thing in the government rolls that hasn’t seen an increase in spending. There are certainly some slowdowns in the rate of increases, yes, but not an actual reduction in any spending. This is the thorn that just won’t go away. All that government officials can do is try to spin it away.
Where will a partial government shutdown leave us? National parks will close for a while, and a few notable agencies will finally get their prying hands out of our lives. What’s incredible is to still find news networks decrying the furloughing of more than 700,000 federal employees. In reality, as CNN inadvertently revealed, one of the supposedly worst effects of the shutdown is of no consequence at all. During the 1996 shutdown, every single employee that was forced to stay home from work was paid for all their time away once the shutdown ended. The same will certainly happen this time.
In other words, the government will eventually spend just as much money as it was going to before. The debate over spending is a figment of the federal government’s imagination. It will always pay its bills because the Federal Reserve, the lender of last resort, is always standing at the ready. This isn’t to say that such a set up isn’t a problem. It is. “The full faith and credit” of the United States is a faith in something invisible and, in truth, nonexistent. But revenue shortfalls don’t ultimately matter when the Fed’s inflationary monetary policy is always used as a way out. Ordinary people, however, will always suffer as a result of these shenanigans.
This is all that we should expect to see in the upcoming debate over raising the debt ceiling, another symptom of out-of-control government. Essentially, Congress will be arguing once again over whether a debt-ridden, bloated government should be allowed to request a higher credit card limit. “We need to pay our bills,” says the administration. And somehow, for saying this, they are considered by many to be the supposedly sane and responsible ones in a room full of partisan blowhards.
But what if a homeowner, hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars in debt, were to rely on a newly-acquired credit card in order to pay for his or her monthly mortgage and an enormous pile of bills? Who on earth would call that person “responsible”? Only when government is the perpetrator.
As the US government begins its horrifying “partial shutdown,” just remember: you don’t need to expect Washington to start learning anything anytime soon. Instead, it’s time we all learned a little something about the unchanging character of Washington, and finally took it to heart.
An op-ed by Chris Bacavis