Hypocrisy and debt: Budget deal will continue the spending surplus
© Greg Nash

“Debt, debt, everywhere and not a dollar to spare.” The Tea Party won on a message that our mounting debt was a threat to our very security. And yet . . . when push came to shove, the debt grew - and hypocrisy replaced promise.

Hypocrites, hypocrites . . . who are the greatest hypocrites of all? The search need not be lengthy. Washington abounds with hypocrites of all stripes. Republicans? To be sure. Democrats? To be sure.

Both parties deserve equal parts of the blame, because they both want to spend more. The Republicans clamor for more military spending. The Democrats say, “Ok, but only if you give us more welfare spending.” And the sorry, rotten, corrupt bargain goes on. And the debt roars upward, unabated, passing $20 trillion with no end in sight.

“Deficits don’t matter,” Dick Cheney once said. And yet . . . the last few days show a stock market that is spooked. Some say it’s the mounting debt and a lack of concern by both parties to address it.

This year, the annual debt will approach and may exceed a trillion dollars.

I remember the heady days when the Tea Party swept in a Republican majority in the House. The biggest sweep by conservatives in a lifetime – nearly a hundred “deficit hawks” elected.

For certain, now Congress would finally go after the debt. The Tea Party railed on about the trillion-dollar annual deficits of President Obama. Surely, the will now existed to contain big government . . .

At first, Republicans only controlled the House, and the powers that be cautioned – “we only control one third of government. We can’t be expected to control the debt.” And so the debt continued to grow.

Then, Republicans took the Senate, and the sage elders counseled – “We only control two thirds of government. We can’t be expected to control the debt. We need the White House.” And so the debt continued to grow.

And then, surprise, surprise – the Republicans won the White House and controlled all three branches, 100 percent of government.

Surely, now the debt would be controlled! Yet, it came to pass, that Republican voices, once raised on high, intoned – “Now, we must govern. Now, we must spend.”

The loudest voices in Congress for breaking the spending caps are now Republican. “The military is being hollowed out,” they cry, even though military spending has more than doubled since 2001.

Meanwhile, the Democrats were long and loud in opposing the recent tax cut because it would add to the deficit. Yet, when questioned on their opposition to busting the budget caps on the military, their response was, “Oh, we’re ok with busting the military caps on spending, as long as we can bust the caps on domestic spending, too.”

Let’s be clear on one thing – tax cuts aren’t the problem. We don’t have a tax deficit. We have a spending surplus. We spend too much, and not enough people are wiling to stop it.

The dirty little secret . . . neither party really cares enough about the debt.

When I attempted to add instructions to the budget to contain entitlement spending, I received only three votes plus mine. The dirty little truth is that neither party cares about the debt. 

They will care only when the sky begins to fall. It will take a calamity. It will take a 2008-like crisis that blows through the backstop of the Federal Reserve printing press before Congress recognizes the severity of the debt crisis that faces us.

Let’s all hope that before that crisis comes, saner minds will prevail and understand that great nations cannot last forever on borrowed time, or borrowed money.

Paul is the junior senator from Kentucky.