By Ron Paul 20 Oct 2015. This appeared here
The US Treasury’s recent announcement that the government will reach the debt
ceiling on November 3 means Congress will soon be debating raising the
government’s borrowing limit again. Any delay in, or opposition to, raising the
debt ceiling will inevitably be met with hand-wringing over Congress’ alleged
irresponsibility. But the real irresponsible act would be for Congress to raise
the debt ceiling.
Cutting up its credit card is the only way to make Congress reduce spending.
Anyone who doubts this should listen to the bipartisan whining over how
sequestration has so drastically reduced spending that there is literally
nothing left to cut. But, according to the Heritage Foundation, sequestration
has only reduced spending from $3.6 trillion to $3.5 trillion. Only in DC would
a less than one percent spending reduction be considered a draconian cut.
Defense hawks have found a way around sequestration by shoving billions of
dollars into the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. OCO spending is
classified as “emergency” spending so it does not count against the spending
limits, even when OCO is used for items that do not fit any reasonable
definition of emergency.
Yet, even using OCO to boost military spending by as much as $80 billion does
not satisfy the military-industrial complex’s ravenous appetite for taxpayer
During the majority of my time in Congress, debt ceiling increases were
routinely approved. In fact, congressional rules once allowed the House of
Representatives to increase the debt ceiling without a vote or even a debate!
Congress’ need to appear to respond to growing concerns over federal spending
has forced it to end the practice of rubber-stamping debt ceiling increases.
Continuously increasing spending will lead to rising inflation as the Federal Reserve
tries to monetize the ever-increasing debt. This will eventually lead to a
serious economic crisis. When the crisis occurs, Congress will have no choice
but to cut spending. The question is not if, but when and under what
circumstances, spending will be cut.
The only alternative for cutting spending in response to economic crisis
involves Congress gradually unwinding the welfare state in a manner that does
not harm those dependent on federal programs. Congress will not even consider
doing this until enough people have embraced the ideas of liberty to force the
politicians to reconsider the proper role of government.
Those who accept the premises of the welfare statists are incapable of making
principled arguments against welfare and entitlement programs. Thus, they can
only quibble over spending levels or how to more efficiently manage the federal
bureaucracy. While fiscal conservatives may gain some minor victories with this
approach, their failure to challenge the welfare state’s morality or effectiveness
dooms any effort to seriously curtail welfare state spending.
Similarly, one cannot favor both serious reductions in the military budget and
an aggressive foreign policy. So-called cheap hawks may achieve some reforms in
the Pentagon’s budget. They many even succeed in killing a few wasteful weapons
projects. However, their unwillingness to oppose a foreign policy of perpetual
war means they will always cave in to the war hawks’ demands for ever-higher
Those who understand the dangers from continuing on our current path should
support efforts to stop Congress from raising the debt ceiling. However,
supporters of liberty will not win the political battle over government
spending on welfare and warfare until we win the intellectual battle over the
role of government. Those of us who know the truth must do all we can to spread
the ideas of liberty.