The United States has managed since the turn of the century to take a budgetary surplus and strong economy and turn the economy on its head while having two Presidents, one from each the Democrats and the Republicans, spend the nation into depths of deficit spending and rising national debt rivaling that of the worst of Europe. With the spiraling increases in the debt of the United States reaching levels that have required a number of increases in the established debt ceiling simply to make interest payments and meet salaries and other budget necessities, the United States has found itself in the position of having to monetize its own debt as China and much of the rest of the world refuse to invest in what is seen as a lost cause driving headlong into financial oblivion. Despite predictions from leading economists, the public does not appear to hold much trepidation towards the financial catastrophe which is looming if something is not done to address the ever bulging deficit spending and the massive amounts being added to the national debt. The manufactured crisis at the end of last year labeled the Fiscal Cliff turned into more of a showcase for pontificating politicians and gasping talking heads all attempting to work up some concern with the public mostly to no avail. Then, even when the politicians simply kicked the can down the road for a few months, there was no eruption of shock or anger but simply a collective shrug of indifference. The neglect shown towards fiscal responsibility by the Washington elite has been a perfect representation of indifference and replete with total disregard to any consequences or warning which predicted the potential doom that would eventually result if spending was continued with such disregard.
The one semi-amusing side effect of the fiscal mismanagement has been the many disparate solutions, warnings, predictions, and long winded prognostications given from all fronts and political orientations which managed to cover almost every angle one could imagine. There have been those who claim that the government was executing the correct fiscal plan by applying increased government spending which would boost the economy resulting in collected taxes covering the increased spending and then some thus solving the problems. Others have called for austerity measures and universal spending cuts across the board as the only way to address the deficit problems. There have been calls to increase taxes, decrease taxes, end many tax deductions, go to a flat tax, and just about any other tax program ever invented, all of them come replete with graphs, spread sheets, and pages of justifications which show that each and every solution should produce the desired results. Perhaps the complete idiocy existing in the economic and fiscal debate where every possible solution can be shown to work despite many being polar opposites, it is no wonder that the public has simply disowned the problem and just walked away. How can anybody care when everything is claimed to be the solution and everything that is done simply makes the problem that much worse.
What is needed is a vision which has a historic record of proven fiscal success which cannot be dismissed. Oddly enough, the United States has what might be the best guide to fiscal and economic success and productivity. The really strange thing about this guide is that even though it has never been followed to the letter, simply making a concerted and honest effort to run the government by its dictates and restrictions have resulted in nearly one-hundred-fifty years of economic stability and low, often no, taxes. This guideline is what may eventually be proven to be the greatest single document providing a blueprint for responsible governance. The document, of course, is the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution was not followed to the letter from the very start but it did act as a restraint for over a century. The initial serious onslaught on the United States Constitution was in the 1860’s with the onset of the American Civil War. President Lincoln suspended many provisions of the Constitution and placed unrivaled power in the hands of the President and neutralized the power of the other two branches. Unsurprisingly, by the end of the Civil War the United States had run up a healthy deficit. Despite that deficit, the return to Constitutionally guided and limited government following the Civil War the United States rebuilt and even spread her territories and soon had paid off all of the debt. The final daggers into the heart of the Constitution came in 1913 with the enactment of two Amendments, Amendment XVI and Amendment XVII. The Sixteenth Amendment established the personal Income Tax Amendment which was supposed to never rise above a paltry three percent nor be applied to anyone below the top ten percent of earners. All of these guarantees soon proved to be completely false. The Seventeenth Amendment provided for the direct election of Senators which removed the last vestiges of power which the Constitution had allocated solely for the States. This was the final nail which would lead directly to the over-centralization of power being stolen by the central Federal Government in Washington. Even with this death knell the Constitution still retained sufficient restraining power to beat back the onslaughts against its original intents that it would take another fifty years before the final assault destroyed any restraint on Federal spending. It was these ideals and ideas which began with Franklin Delano Roosevelt with Social Security and Unemployment Insurance that brought on the end. With Lyndon Baines Johnson and his Great Society, the Constitution gave out its last gasp and the financial difficulties that accompany unrestrained, undisciplined, expansive spending slowly led to the financial difficulties currently plaguing the United States. Perhaps a return to the ideals and ideas first instituted with the original Constitution could forge the necessary restraint that would lead the United States back to fiscal solvency and responsibility. By showing such restraint and self-discipline the Americans would be rewarded with a growing economy and a positive and promising outlook for the future. That is the power of the United States Constitution and the promise the writers left to their countrymen into the future.
Beyond the Cusp