George Washington Warned Us


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by Matthew Ung

I begin by quoting George Washington’s farewell address: “The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

At a time when he could have easily become president for life, this man stepped down with a heavy heart, and this plea that our politics be based on loyalty to principles rather than loyalty to political parties. We decided we know better. So like thoughtless conscripts, we tune in and lash out at the opposite political party in our more-or-less civilized way. But with partisan loyalty comes the deceitful obligation to flow with the political current. It’s why 2006 Sen. Barack Obama voted against the debt-ceiling increases that 2013 President Obama demands.

While partisans squabble, the bureaucracy has been marching on with two major lies I’ll expose. They are bold-faced lies spoken constantly, which is why they are so successful (history bears that out).

Lie #1: Reaching our debt limit at any time is akin to defaulting on our sovereign debt.

Even in a 17 percent government shutdown, the IRS still collects 10 times more tax money than needed to pay interest and debt principal each month. How ridiculous is it for anyone to panic about default now while calling for a continuance in deficit spending that leads to inescapable default later? One party can call the other hostage-takers, arsonists, terrorists and anarchists all day long, but what does that matter when their great compromise is to  further burden future generations? Some call that “governing,” I call it betraying the public trust.

This is such an abject lie that Moody’s, Barclays, Forbes and the Government Accountability Office had to point out that we actually have the fascinating ability to prioritize payments instead of fearing the president’s all-or-nothing approach. In other words, the only way we
default after maxing out our credit limit is if the president prioritizes National Park Service employees to be equipped with Iron Man suits over paying the interest due on our debt. But, from the spiteful way we saw our tax dollars prioritized in this last shutdown, who knows? Perhaps next time our Marine veterans will be singing a new song as they clash with riot police: “… From the Halls of Montezuma, to the barricades of parks.”

Furthermore, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 2 of the Constitution, Congress alone is granted power to incur debt. The president’s idea of an automatically increasing debt ceiling shows his allegiance to endless spending with “no end game,” to use current buzzwords. By repeatedly threatening to default on the sovereign debt as he did, he was threatening to violate his oath of office, to violate Section 4 of the 14th Amendment (which mandates debt payments be priority one), and has in effect already seized for himself this power of the purse with a bloodless coup. This is factual, unprecedented, unconstitutional, impeachable, and it’s what everyone is missing.

Lie #2: Congress (especially Ted Cruz) has no right to ever change or defund Obamacare, as it’s been duly passed and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Our imperial president has already unilaterally changed or delayed parts of the law several times. Where did that right come from? Is he the only one who can change laws, and does anyone care? The law as it now exists is a different creature than was passed by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court. In fact, Obamacare regulations written by unelected federal officials (but with the full force of law) are 30 times longer than the law itself. And we’re arguing whether or not the lawmakers in Congress have the right to … make laws.

We should be asking where the administrative state gets the “right” to contract a Canadian company to build the pathetic Obamacare website for $93 million while actually paying them $634 million for a product that apparently violated a licensing agreement by omitting copyrighted script from a British company. If government is the answer, it was a pretty dumb

It’s the job of “We the People” to hold accountable, and hopefully our solution this time isn’t as shallow as electing more Republicans/Democrats in 2014. To quote Thoreau, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” We need the honesty of President Washington, not the shell games of Washington, D.C.

Matthew Ung works in health care administration. He holds a master’s degree in theology and a master’s degree in business administration. He and his wife, Nheylin, live in Sioux City, Iowa. Reprinted with permission from the Sioux City Journal where he is a regular columnist.