The 9-12 Project of Central PA

"You Are NOT Alone!"

A Response to Glenn Thompson's Letter About the Debt Ceiling

After calling GT's office to object to any deal to raise either taxes or the debt ceiling, I received the following:

Thank you for contacting me with regard to the legal limit on federal
borrowing. I appreciate receiving your opinions on this very important
matter.  

The United States Constitution grants Congress the sole power of the
purse, in order to fund government operations. Article 1, Section 8
also states that "Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes,
duties, imposts, and excises and to pay the debts of the United
States". While funding the federal government is carried out through
the annual appropriations process, Congress also has jurisdiction over
levying taxes and matters of federal liabilities. Prior to 1917,
Congress had to approve all governmental borrowing. To provide more
flexibility as the United States entered World War I, Congress agreed
to provide the federal government with approval for most types of
borrowing, within an established limit.  

When the government's outputs exceed incoming tax revenue, the Treasury
sells debt to the public to offset the difference. Over time, the
annual deficit has attributed to the $14 trillion debt we now face.
While there are many on both sides of the political spectrum that will
point fingers, the United State Department of the Treasury has
presented the facts. Under President George W. Bush, the national debt
increased by $4.35 trillion over an eight year period and recently
under President Barack Obama an additional $3.9 trillion has been added
to debt since taking office in January of 2009. There has been
projected an additional $1.64 trillion before 2011 is over.

As of May 31, 2011, the $14.294 trillion debt ceiling was reached.
Since coming to Congress in 2009, I have consistently voted against
frivolous spending measures that compound Americas debt problem. While
some, including myself, have been signaling the alarm, reaching the
debt ceiling has now prompted mainstream concern over the United
States' ability to maintain a positive credit rating and has brought
the proposition of a debt limit increase to the forefront of budget
negotiation for Fiscal Year 2012. The current fiscal crisis presents a
serious challenge to the longevity of the American economy and will
require discipline and sacrifice - leaving no government program
without scrutiny. There are countless efficiencies to be made,
consolidations of redundant programs, and eliminations for outdated or
underperforming operations. It is imperative that the United States
begins to live within its means.

However, reductions will not be enough, mandatory spending on programs
such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security has been growing at an
unchecked rate and currently the programs account for nearly two thirds
of the annual budget. If entitlement growth remains unchecked it will
crowd out discretionary spending - such as education - and eventually
Medicare will also become insolvent. My Republican colleagues in the
House have been accused of attempting to "end Medicare as we know it".
This could not be further from the truth. Rather, various proposals
have aimed to extend the life of Medicare without altering the way the
program provides for any current beneficiaries. If fundamental
improvements are not made, Medicare will go bankrupt in the near
future.

Many have suggested that to balance the budget, we should just levy new
taxes on those paying in upper brackets. While some argue that these
individuals need to "pay their fair share," according to the IRS, the
top 10% of American wage earners already pay 70% of all income taxes.
Furthermore, eliminating the Bush & Obama tax cuts for higher income
earners would generate about $70 billion per year for a ten year
period. Combined with the Administration's proposal to reduce the rate
at which itemized deductions lower tax liabilities, this would yield an
additional $30 billion per year over the same ten year period. In total
these proposals would generate $100 billion per year on average - or
only about one-sixteenth - of what is required to balance the budget.
This does not even begin to address the debt. Bottom line, I believe
this proposal to be a distraction and I will not engage in class
warfare. Rather than diverting attention to raising taxes during a
recession, we should be focused on the true issues at hand - curbing
out of control spending. 

Recently, H.R. 1954 was introduced and would have increased the debt
limit to $16.7 trillion without instituting any attached reductions in
spending. I voted against this measure and the legislation was easily
defeated in the House of Representatives. Raising the debt ceiling
without significant structural spending reforms would send a signal to
the world that America lacks the political will to meet our fiscal
obligations.  Furthermore, without exacting tangible spending reforms,
our credit rating will be downgraded, similar to Portugal or Greece,
eroding confidence in our economy and increasing uncertainty for
businesses and investors at home and abroad. For these many reasons, I
have also cosponsored H.J.Res.1, a constitutional amendment to require
an annual balance budget, similar to 49 states.

Since coming to Congress, I have worked tirelessly to be a responsible
steward of the taxpayer dollar and to promote fiscal responsibility.
Having the honor and privilege of serving you in the United States
Congress is not a responsibility that I take lightly. These issues are
pressing and will certainly define the next generation moving forward.
With that said, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in
mind as the debt ceiling and the United States' fiscal situation
continues to be debated.

Again, thank you for contacting my office. For more information on my
policies and happenings around the 5th District, please visit my
website at www.thompson.house.gov, There you can sign up to
receive periodic updates via my e-newsletter, The Thompson Times.

Sincerely,

Glenn Thompson
Member of Congress

I wrote the following reply:

Dear Glenn,

After contacting your office earlier today, I received an email containing the following statement:

"However, reductions will not be enough, mandatory spending on programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security has been growing at an unchecked rate and currently the programs account for nearly two thirds of the annual budget."

"Mandatory spending" is a ridiculous excuse. As a Congressman, your ONLY mandate is to uphold the Constitution, which was established to protect the rights of the people. If someone comes along and tries to convince you that stealing money by force from those same people to pay for "mandated" government programs is consistent with your oath, you should kick them out of your office!

No Congress can limit the powers of a future Congress. So, these so-called mandates are unconstitutional. This whole thing is an unjust, immoral scam against the American people, whose rights you are supposed to protect.

NOBODY has the right to steal from other people - and NOBODY has the right to elect a government and tell them to go steal money for them! This is true for taxes - which are theft when used for unconstitutional purposes - and for borrowing which is simply stealing from another generation.

Nothing in the Constitution allows for Social Security, Medicare, or any of these other Socialist programs, which do nothing other than transfer money from one citizen to another.

[This being said, I would not cut them off, but I would phase them out, slowly over the next ten or twenty years.]

If you want to solve our problems, you must address the underlying philosophy that a person's need justifies any act. If an act is immoral when an individual does it - it doesn't become moral when a government does it under the guise of Law, with a claim of Need. If this continues, we all become slaves to one another's need.

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt 1783

History has shown that Constitutional Republics fail when they abandon the principles of their constitution, in the same way and for the same reasons that we are doing right now.

STOP IT!

Views: 42

Comment by Thomas Brown on July 23, 2011 at 4:44pm
Great response Peter.  I am greatly appreciated your pointing out the error of mandate spending.
Comment by Kristine L. Eng on July 25, 2011 at 7:35pm

Maybe you and Glen need to agree on the contextual definition of "mandate."  And then choose whether it is more valuable to focus on small details that are meaningful to a few or greater generalities that help propel a larger number towards the broader fights we must take on in order to reclaim the freedoms we have lost.

 

Comment by Peter Trippett on July 25, 2011 at 8:53pm

Kris,

Unless we change the underlying philosophy that our government, the Democrat party, and to a lesser extent, the Republican party is operating under, we will continue to lose our freedoms.  It is inevitable, it is the obvious outcome of our current philosophy, our founders warned against these very things, and you can see it happening throughout history.

I would be glad to have that discussion with Glenn, but when I have tried to have such discussions in the past, for example, on education, he has simply responded with some general statement, such as, "I think the Federal Government needs to have some oversight in education."

His statement ignores the simple fact that the Constitution limits Congress to 18 specific roles - and not one of them is education.  Please also note his use of the term, "NEED" - the magic sword that, in Washington, squelches any furhter debate!

For as long as you and I have been alive, the pendulum has swung back and forth between Republicans and Democrats - and for as long as we have been alive, our freedom has continued to deteriorate.  Yes, they deteriorate more slowly under Republican control, but they deteriorate nonetheless.  It is now crystal clear to me why this is happening.

I am not saying this to bash Republicans - I continue to be a Republican, and to support most Republican candidates, and I personally like most the people I have met in our local party.  I think that of the two powerful parties that exist, the Republicans have the most chance of restoring those freedoms we have lost.

But, they will not do so, if they continue on their current path. 

[And, they will not do so, if they start taking steps to keep new people OUT of the party mechanisms, as our local party has recently done.]

For example, I am sure it is obvious to you that the debt of this country is absolutely and totally absurd.  The correct course of action is for the government to quit spending money - quit using "mandates" as an excuse to continue spending money - and quit borrowing money.  This issue is a moral one - it is absolutely and completely unjust and immoral to ask future generations to pay for government excess now.

In any other context, people who do that would be considered criminals.  Only in Washington does this simple principle become just another bargaining chip to be "compromised".

The problem is that the media and the politicians have convinced you that the "broader fights" are the ones we must fight - but they have diverted your attention from the basic principles and the philosophy that is destroying this country.  Those basic principles are reflected in those small details you would not focus on - such as: the Constitutional impact of "mandated" spending, the true meaning of our Congressman's Oath, and a simple understanding of the philosophy of NEED.

I believe that the way to reclaim the freedoms we have lost is to convince those broader numbers to start focusing on these small details, including our elected Representatives.  These small details are concepts that are much simpler and easier to understand than government financing, climate change, the economy, the healthcare system, etc.  And once these small details are understood and embraced, all these broader issues you want to focus on now actually become more clear, and the solutions to them more obvious.

-Peter

Comment by Thomas Brown on July 26, 2011 at 12:47am
Sadly the Republican party for the most part is the same (national level) as the Democratic Party. Look at the many Republicans who state that they we "need" to raise the debt ceiling. Pat Toomey is the only Member of the PA delegation who seems to get it. He said we don't need to raise the debt ceiling as we collect $200 billion in taxes each month and we should get the government to live on that paltry sum of $2.4 trillion a year. If they did that though they would actually have to make real cuts!
Comment by Peter Trippett on July 26, 2011 at 1:23pm

My point is that there is no "need" great enough to justify generational theft, or any other immoral act.  Would you steal from your own children so that you could live in comfort?  Would you even steal from your children so that you could live?

Moral people would answer, "NO!"

What the government is doing right now is EXACTLY THE SAME THING.  If it wouldn't be moral for you to do it, then it isn't moral for government to do it either.  There is no argument to justify how far we have already gone into debt - and there is definitely no argument for continuing this practice.

And there are plenty of arguments for forcing government to return to its Constitutional role of protecting our rights, instead of stealing them.

Comment by Kristine L. Eng on July 26, 2011 at 2:58pm
Wow! All I am saying is that we can forever keep the battle of words and ideology going, but without some sort of action or application of these ideas and beliefs, change will never take place.

Take care, guys!
Comment by Peter Trippett on July 26, 2011 at 7:05pm

Kris,

I apologize if I misunderstood you.  I thought you were objecting to me being critical of the "mandated expense" excuse, that so many Republicans seem to be falling back on.

I do agree that the ideas need to be applied - at all levels - from the individual citizens like you and I, all the way down to our elected Federal Representatives.

But, in order for that to happen, these ideas need to get out there somehow - that is what I am trying to do!

-Peter

Comment by Tom Martin on July 27, 2011 at 9:35pm

IF the ideology, the moral premise is bankrupted, so will the government and the nation that attempts to pursue those ends.

The moral premise that fits the Constitution as I see it is no one has a right to the life of another, that the Constitution was designed to protect our pre-existing inherent rights - not a tool to grant political privileges to those in power at some one elses expense.

The Creed of need implemented by force of law becomes most corrupting influence perverting the legal moral principles that government operates under and converts government into a tool for competing gangs to get things via force that they could not honestly earn.

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