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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Poor House

August 2nd, 2011 - 6:23 am

Two-point-four trillion dollars:

$2,400,000,000,000.

Take a minute to visualize it. You can’t, you know: it’s simply too big a number. But take a minute to try.

Dazzled yet? You should be. Two-point-four trillion dollars: It’s the largest hike of the debt ceiling in history, but, hey, that’s no reason for the House not to celebrate and cheer. They passed the buck. President Obama, too, can breathe a sigh of release: he doesn’t have to think about raising the “debt ceiling” again until 2013, after the next election. (Query: what does the word “ceiling” add to the word “debt”? Intrinsically, nothing; but by adding a neutral word to a negative you accomplish an important psychological feat: you soften, mellow, calm people who might otherwise concentrate exclusively on the nasty word “debt.”)

As I’ve had occasion to observe before in this space, “Alfred E. Neuman is in the driver’s seat“. That philosopher furnished the perfect motto for our spendthrift masters in Washington: “What, me worry?”

Last week I wrote here about how “phony cuts” were matched by “real taxes.” I should have added that the phony cuts, of which there are plenty in that “deal” the House just passed, are also matched by real increases in our country’s indebtedness.

Why is John Boehner smiling? I know why Barack Obama is smiling: he just got a fat check: $2.4 trillion is a lot of stimulus to throw around to your union friends, anti-American despots, and government bureaucracies. You can do a lot of harm with $2.4 trillion.

You can also make it even harder for Americans ever to get out of the hole George W. Bush started but Barack Hussein Obama has been excavating with power machinery for two and a half years.

But John Boehner? He’s a smart guy. He must know that he has just signed off on one of the biggest con-jobs of modern times.

Fourteen-point-three trillion dollars in federal debt, soon to be sixteen-point-seven.

And for what? Anyone who looks at the math knows that the United States had plenty of revenues to meet our debt obligations. This is not (not yet) a Greece-Portugal-Italy situation. If we did the responsible thing and refused to dig the debt hole deeper (forget the ceiling metaphor: it’s a big, black hole we’re talking about here), what would have happened? The people who got us into this fix would have had to reconsider some of the unaffordable programs they have foisted upon the taxpayer.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

But forget about it. Right on cue, the White House made its desire for more money sound like a national emergency. It was déjà-vu all over again. But what short memories we have!

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