The Ship Is Sinking: US National Debt Tops Limit

The Ship Is Sinking: US National Debt Tops Limit

December 16th, 2009 Posted By Erik Wong.

us-national-debt

CBS News:

The latest calculation of the National Debt as posted by the Treasury Department has – at least numerically – exceeded the statutory Debt Limit approved by Congress last February as part of the Recovery Act stimulus bill.

The ceiling was set at $12.104 trillion dollars. The latest posting by Treasury shows the National Debt at nearly $12.135 trillion.

A senior Treasury official told CBS News that the department has some “extraordinary accounting tools” it can use to give the government breathing room in the range of $150-billion when the Debt exceeds the Debt Ceiling.

Were it not for those “tools,” the U.S. Government would not have the statutory authority to borrow any more money. It might block issuance of Social Security checks and require a shutdown of some parts of the federal government.

Pending in Congress is a measure to increase the Debt Limit by $290 billion, which amounts to six more weeks of routine borrowing for the federal government.

Republicans and conservative Democrats blocked moves by House leaders to pass a $1.8 trillion dollar increase in the Debt Limit so the Democratic majority would not have to face the embarrassment of raising the Debt Limit yet again before next November’s midterm elections.

The Debt Limit has been raised about a hundred times since 1940, when it was $49 billion – about five days worth of federal spending now.

The White House projects a record $1.5 trillion dollars deficit this year alone, and a 5-year deficit total of $4.97 trillion.

The Debt figure goes up and down on a daily basis based on government borrowing and revenue.

The Audacity of Debt

The Audacity of Debt

December 17th, 2009

WSJ

 Barack Obama is plunging us into debt

At least someone in America isn’t feeling a credit squeeze: Uncle Sam. This week Congress will vote to raise the national debt ceiling by nearly $2 trillion, to a total of $14 trillion. In this economy, everyone de-leverages except government.

It’s a sign of how deep the fiscal pathologies run in this Congress that $2 trillion will buy the federal government only one year before it has to seek another debt hike—conveniently timed to come after the midterm elections. Since Democrats began running Congress again in 2007, the federal debt limit has climbed by 39%. The new hike will lift the borrowing cap by another 15%.

There is surely bipartisan blame for this government debt boom. George W. Bush approved gigantic spending increases for Medicare and bailouts. He also sponsored the first ineffective “stimulus” in February 2008—consisting of $168 billion in tax rebates and spending that depleted federal revenues in return for no economic lift.

Democrats ridiculed Mr. Bush as “the most fiscally irresponsible President in history,” but then they saw him and raised. They took an $800 billion deficit and made it $1.4 trillion in 2009 and perhaps that high again in 2010. In 10 months they have approved more than $1 trillion in spending that has saved union public jobs but has done little to assist private job creation. Still to come is the multitrillion- dollar health bill and another $100 billion to $200 billion “jobs” bill.

Read More:

The Obama Doctrine: govern by decree

The Obama Doctrine: govern by decree

By Henry P. Wickham, Jr.

As you exhale while reading this article, you are contributing to the coming world catastrophe caused by global warming.  So says the Environmental Protection Agency in its recent decree that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant, among those gases that “endanger” public health.

In response to this sense of crisis stirred by the likes of Al Gore, President Obama pushes for mandates that significantly reduce carbon usage, and which, by all accounts, will cripple the U.S. economy.  Common sense dictates that the U.S. cannot compete effectively in world markets hamstrung by regulations and tax burdens that do not seriously affect our competitors.  Whether through contact with their Congressional representatives or through the polls, Americans have voiced their opposition to this sort of hyper-regulation and taxation.  By most accounts, the Administration’s efforts to enact a cap and trade scheme will not get through Congress. 
There is much in the agenda of Left that is unpopular.  It cannot survive the democratic process or honest discussion.  When that agenda is stalled by the messiness of the legislative process, better to dissemble, and then use those institutions of power beyond the reach of any practical popular reaction.  Better to use those institutions largely immune to public opinion and the concept of consent of the governed. As the President and his political allies well understand, it quicker and more efficient to implement an agenda through the federal courts and by bureaucratic fiat.
This most recent decree of the EPA began as a lawsuit in federal court.  The environmentalists and their political allies in state and local governments sued the EPA demanding that it regulate (i.e. limit) carbon usage in the United States.  When the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act, and determined that such regulation is not mandated, the plaintiffs appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court.
In a five to four decision rendered in 2007, the Supreme Court overruled the D.C. Circuit Court.  Usurping the legislative function through its use of questionable evidence and flimsy statutory analysis, the Supreme Court determined that the EPA must regulate carbon emissions.
Thus, we have a Supreme Court with no accountability to citizens issuing an order to a federal bureaucracy with little accountability to citizens.  President Obama’s EPA will now issue decrees that the environmentalists and state and local governments could not get passed by the most democratic of our three branches of government.  We now have a bureaucracy staffed with President Obama’s zealots who are only too happy to impose this unpopular environmental agenda, despite its long-term detrimental effects on the country.
When a supposedly democratic government rules by decree with little or no direct accountability to its citizens, the effects are much broader than those generated by any particular decree.  This process of issuing decrees enhances that lust for power among the political class while creating a corresponding attitude of subservience in the citizenry.
Hannah Arendt in her magisterial The Origins of Totalitarianism analyzed the nature of rule by decree and its effects.  She points out that decrees are an exercise of power unfettered by any real limiting principles.  Decrees have a way of simply appearing, and they are made to seem both necessary and inevitable.  A facade of law attached to these decrees supports the illusion of due process.
Like that which labels what we naturally exhale an air pollutant, governmental decrees are wrapped in an aura of complication rather than reasonable principle.  Such complication requires experts to guide us, and in this case we are assured that the experts concur about this crisis and its causes. As Arendt points out it is those experts who help keep the people in “carefully organized ignorance of specific circumstances and practical significance.” 
Thus, data that could be unfavorable to the global warming agenda can be destroyed, and dissenting opinions can be suppressed because the citizens do not have the requisite sophistication and knowledge to evaluate them properly. We can find evidence of doctored data as in East Anglia, and for those pushing the Obama agenda, this data merely becomes a variation of the Dan Rather Rule that evidence can be “fake but true.” Experts tell us to ignore the fact that there is little evidence of warming in the last ten years, less evidence of its anthropomorphic origins, and no evidence of impending catastrophe.  We are assured by those so eager to exercise this power that the facts are in and the debate is over.
Most Americans do not want the inevitable consequences of the regulations that the Obama Administration will promulgate.  They have voiced their opinions, but such opinions do not really matter.  They are simply told by the Obama Administration that the EPA regulations will be forthcoming, supposedly both necessary and inevitable. Decrees demand obedience, and citizens sink incrementally into Hillaire Belloc’s servile state.
Margaret Thatcher once described the “ratchet effect” of bureaucratic power.  The ratchet can be turned in one direction only–the way that enhances that power.  This decree of the EPA is a manifestation of that power, first imposed by five unelected Justices in the name of the law. However, the rule of law requires wisdom, while rule by decree requires cleverness.  The environmentalists and their political allies have cleverly created a crisis where there is none.  The Obama Administration cleverly uses this crisis for its purposes, and it issues decrees that only enhance its power.  Reversing that ratchet will be far more difficult, if not impossible.
Had Abraham Lincoln spent Barak Obama’s time in today’s Ivy League, and had he been nurtured politically by the likes of Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, he would have concluded his Gettysburg Address “…and that government of the State, by the State, for the State shall not perish from the earth.”  As with President Obama, any references to the people would be just window dressing.
Henry P. Wickham, Jr, welcomes comments at HWickham@LNLAttorneys.com

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