Forget the debt ceiling debate: this is the real issue facing America


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The periodic federal government debt ceiling cliffhanger makes for entertaining discussion by the talking heads on cable TV and creating angst in the financial markets if a US default on its debt triggers a national economic spasm.  Don’t lose any sleep over a possible default. 

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As the chart below reveals, over the past six decades the federal debt keeps increasing no matter which party the president is from and which party controls the Congress.  Like old man river, the debt keeps rolling along…upward and onward.  In other words, there is no fiscal discipline in DC.  Period.  In fact, if we take a deep dive in the data, the federal debt increases just as fast or faster under Republican presidents as Democratic presidents.

Like a nymphomaniac on a long-term submarine voyage, the Washingtonians who serve in Congress cannot help themselves.  They just keep spending to feed the welfare-warfare state, even though with few exceptions virtually all federal spending is unconstitutional. 

Article I, Section 8 outlines the permissible-authorized spending of the federal government.  Section 8 begins with the following statement:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence (sic) and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; (emphasis added)

Big government Democrats and Republicans have justified their welfare-warfare spending based on the “general welfare” clause.  However, in the rest of Section 8 specific spending that is authorized is outlined. 

There is no authorization for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, housing subsidies, corporate welfare, farm subsidies, student loans, undeclared wars, and the list goes on and on and on. 

You get the picture.  We have unconstitutional federal spending, which means members of Congress who vote for the nearly $6 trillion federal budget and a president signs the budget are violating their oaths to uphold and defend the US Constitution—the Supreme Law of the Land.

So, while the Republicans and Democrats continue the charade of debt ceiling politics, they both ignore the fundamental issue, namely, what are the legitimate expenditures of the federal government?    

Once upon the time there was much more respect for the Constitution.  When the Supreme Court ruled in 1895 a federal income tax was unconstitutional, the Constitution was amended to create a federal income tax consistent with the taxing powers of the federal government.  When the Prohibitionists wanted to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages, the Constitution did not grant that power to the federal government.  The 18thAmendment gave the federal power to ban the production and sale of alcohol.    

House Republicans should throw down the gauntlet.  We will raise the debt ceiling and announce they will not vote for any additional spending this fiscal year that is not authorized by Article I, Section 8.  And for the next fiscal year that begins on October 1, we will begin the process of downsizing the federal government with real budget cuts.

Murray Sabrin, PhD, is emeritus professor of finance, Ramapo College of New Jersey. Dr. Sabrin is considered a “public intellectual” for writing about the economy in scholarly and popular publications. His new book, The Finance of Health Care: Wellness and Innovative Approaches to Employee Medical Insurance (Business Expert Press, Oct. 24, 2022), and his other BEP publication, Navigating the Boom/Bust Cycle: An Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide (October 2021), provides decision makers with tools needed to help manage their businesses during the business cycle.  Sabrin’s autobiography, From Immigrant to Public Intellectual: An American Story, was published in November, 2022.

Murray’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Written by CONK!


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