Paul Jacob

Medicare, taking into account Obamacare, is expected to double its dollar figures in the next ten years — even as Congress supposedly cuts $700 billion. Or put another way, ten years from now, the federal government will be spending almost as much more for Medicare, yearly, than will have been supposedly cut in all ten years combined.

Congress can’t even put together a straight piece of legislation when the country is teetering on the ledge. The fiscal cliff bill was larded up with all manner of million-dollar, billion-dollar giveaways to special interests. In the face of skyrocketing debt, the bill raised taxes, preserved pork barrel politics, and left entitlements and spending untouched.

Apparently, no one ever said or wrote that, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.”

Or “When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”

Or that “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury.”

But the statements make so much sense in describing America today that they’ve been attributed Ben Franklin and Alexis de Tocqueville . . . and some Scottish fellow, named Alexander Fraser Tytler, or Lord Woodhouselee.

I’ve long noticed that when citizens vote directly on issues, through ballot initiatives and referendums, they are far more frugal than are the legislators and executives they elect to public office.

It says a lot that, at the federal level, we have no direct say.

In the coming years, we citizens must find a way to enforce fiscal sanity on our governments by ballot initiative at the state and local level as well as by saying “No” at the federal level — to politicians bearing gifts, bought with borrowed money and leaving behind a bill that’s coming due.         [further reading]

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.