One of Dictionary.com's definitions of blackmail is "to extort money from (a person) by use of threats." Substitute "taxpayers" for "person" and you have what the White House and congressional Democrats are doing with the debt ceiling.
In case you weren't paying attention (and too few are) the United States officially reached the debt ceiling on Monday. Treasury Secretary Tim ("I forgot to pay my taxes") Geithner informed Congress of difficult decisions he was forced to make to keep the country solvent, which is a joke. How can a country be considered solvent when just the interest on the debt amounts to more than the entire gross national product of many countries?
Among Geithner's sleights of hand to keep America from "defaulting" on its loans is his suspension of payments to federal retirement funding investments until Aug. 2. Whoa, there's a brave move! Geithner doesn't suggest spending cutbacks. That's because with Democrats, especially, federal spending is considered more sacred than money dropped in a church offering plate. Once it's in, it would be a sacrilege to take it out.
The public -- or at least the half of us who pay our tax bills so that the other half can take it and so politicians can keep themselves in office -- ought to be awake to this scam. It makes convicted Ponzi scheme practitioner Bernie Madoff look like a piker.
A good place to start with the spending axe would be the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Washington Post last Sunday published the results of a lengthy investigation into the spending ways of this unnecessary federal agency. The expose found that "nearly 700 projects awarded $400 million appear to be stalled or abandoned. An additional 600 projects have not drawn any of the money allocated, tying up $250 million."
That is, or ought to be considered, disgusting. But for much of the bloated federal government, it is increasingly the norm. Two senators have promised an "investigation." Don't look for anything serious to be done. It never is. Politicians and bureaucrats protect their turf. Wrists might be slapped. Someone near -- but not at -- the top might even be replaced. There could be promises of "reform," but in the end, HUD will remain to misspend another day, along with so many other agencies and programs that waste our money.
What is needed is a top-to-bottom review of government, beginning with a serious discussion about its purpose and the responsibility of individuals to do more for themselves.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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