Our Threatening National Debt

Our Threatening National Debt
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

When a new president takes office, he is saddled with a budget agreed to by his predecessor for the first nine months of his term. This procedure occurs because the federal fiscal year begins on the first day of October every year. Therefore the additions to the national debt attributable to Barack Obama’s eight years in office are not complete. But we can get an idea of the increase under his watch by looking at what is rightfully attributable to his leadership.

National Debt Increases from 2001 to 2016 (Image from Wikimedia Commons).

National Debt Increases from 2001 to 2016 (image from Farcaster at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons).

Author/commentator Terence Jeffrey claims the red ink accumulated by Mr. Obama totaled $9,335,000,000,000 on the day he left office. That’s $9.3 trillion. The previous deficit accumulated by a two-term president was $4.9 trillion for the George W. Bush years (2201-2009). That’s a little bit above half of what his successor, Barack Obama, piled up.

Congress produces a federal budget. A president can veto what he is given but presidents rarely use that constitutional power because no occupant of the White House wants the blame for government shutdown. So the planned deficit wins approval and the nation proceeds down a path to extinction. Extinction? Yes, the indebtedness cannot continue. As the old saying goes, “The piper will be paid.” Who might that “piper” be? Probably world government with total power.

A review of past decades and the indebtedness amassed by a succession of president indicates ascending guilt for each of the past 13 chief executives. They have all contributed to placing our nation’s neck in a noose, the most recent being the worst culprits. Here are some debt figures supplied by the Treasury Department.

Roosevelt (1933-1945) $.236 trillion, up 1,048% from Hoover

Truman (1945-1953) $.007 trillion, up 3% from Roosevelt

Eisenhower (1953-1961) $.023 trillion, up 9% from Truman

Kennedy (1961-1963) $.023 trillion, up 8% from Eisenhower

Johnson (1963-1969) $.042 trillion, up 13% from Kennedy

Nixon (1969-1974) $.121 trillion, up 34% from Johnson

Ford (1974-1977) $.224 trillion, up 47% from Nixon

Carter (1977-1981) $.299 trillion, up 43% from Ford

Reagan (1981-1989) $1.860 trillion, up 186% from Carter

Bush I (1989-1993) $1.554 trillion, up 54% from Reagan

Clinton (1993-2001) $1.396 trillion, up 32 % from Bush

Bush II (2001-2009) $5.849 trillion, up 101% from Clinton

Obama (2009-2017) $7.917 trillion, up 68% from Bush II

(The figure for the Obama years is not complete.)

The largest percentage increase (186%) occurred during the Reagan years when the debt total flew through the $1 trillion plateau. The largest dollar increase occurred during the Obama years (not yet complete).

What does all this mean? It means the U.S. government is spending the nation into bankruptcy. As economic guru Doug Casey states: “Giving politicians the ability to borrow is like giving a teenager a bottle of whiskey and the keys to a Corvette. The debt is an albatross around the necks of the next several generations: it’s criminal to make indentured servants out of people who aren’t even born yet.”

Congress is the key to either fiscal sanity or fiscal suicide. If you value freedom and love your children, let your representative and your two senators hear from you.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


A Return to the Republic: A Game Plan for Donald Trump

A Return to the Republic: A Game Plan for Donald Trump
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

The following statement was solicited and then aired, along with the thoughts of others, via the nationwide “Connecting the Dots” radio program on November 22, 2016. We were asked what advice would we give to incoming President of the United States Donald Trump.

Donald Trump speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona (photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr, some rights reserved).

Mr. Trump, I suggest that you add to your goal of making America great again the following statement: “America became great, not because of what government did, but because of what government was prevented from doing by the U.S. Constitution.”

You should consider that, were the Constitution fully adhered to, the federal government would shrink to 20 percent its size and 20 percent its cost.

To questions asking what you intend to do after your inauguration, you should say, “I am not going to do as much as people might expect. Instead I shall use all the proper powers of the presidency to undo much of what government now does. And what I intend to undo, to abolish, are all agencies, departments, and bureaucratic monstrosities that are not authorized by the Constitution.”

Among the federal agencies that should be abolished are the Departments of Education, Energy, Interior, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and many of those issuing handouts of various kinds. You should arrange to have the U.S. military and the U.S. Border Patrol take on whatever responsibilities have been assumed by the Department of Homeland Security.

One by one, all agencies of the federal government that have been created and empowered by presidential Executive Orders should be abolished. The most egregious of these is the federal Environmental Protection Agency, a monster created via an Executive Order written by President Nixon in 1970. The EPA was never voted into existence by Congress.

America has not won a war since 1945 when victory was achieved in World War II. No victory in Korea, in Vietnam, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Why? Because our nation submits to rules and regulations mandated by the United Nations and its controlled stepchild NATO. For this reason and many more, the United States should withdraw from the United Nations at the earliest possible time. A measure to accomplish this goal, H.R. 1205, has been introduced in the House of Representatives and it should receive presidential support.

Proper attention should be given to the very first sentence in the Constitution that states, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States….” That means no law making is proper if made by presidential Executive Order or by a Supreme Court decision. Any law enacted outside of the legislative branch must be declared null. One good example needing termination is the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that has legalized the taking of 60 million lives since 1973.

Presidential power must be employed to have a thorough audit of the Federal Reserve, something that hasn’t been done in the Fed’s more than 100 years of existence. Congress would welcome the help of the President to get this done. Once audited honestly and thoroughly, moves should be undertaken toward abolishing this unconstitutional engine of inflation. The path toward creating precious metal backed currency should be laid out and followed.

Various job-destroying entanglements in which our government has placed the nation should be terminated. This means exiting NAFTA, CAFTA, the World Trade Organization, and others.

Let me say again: “America became great not because of what government did, but because of what government was prevented from doing by the Constitution.”

Mr. Trump, I will continue to pray that you accomplish all your legitimate goals, only some of which I have listed in this brief statement.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


National Debt Shouldn’t Be Ignored

National Debt Shouldn’t Be Ignored
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

We hear a lot about the National Debt. But we hear very little about addressing the threat it poses. So, let’s take a hard look at Uncle Sam’s profligacy. While doing so, think of the children of today who will have to bear the burden of national indebtedness – the mortgaging of their future that they had no part in creating.

As of May 5, 2016, the admitted national debt is $19.176 trillion. The estimated U.S. population is 323 million. This means that the share of debt for every citizen in our nation (man, woman and child) is $59,388. And the national debt increases by approximately $2.37 billion every day.

These figures address only the admitted national debt. The federal government also has unfunded liabilities not shown in the above figures. These include promises to pay for Social Security and Medicare and other government programs that must be funded with borrowed money. These add at least another $100 trillion to the already staggering debt total. Some estimates place that figure as high at $200 trillion.

Expectations given by competent analysts predict that the national debt will rise to $25 trillion by the end of the current decade. In other words, those who manage America’s affairs (the President and the Congress) are knowingly steering the ship of state toward catastrophic shipwreck.

Annual interest on the money borrowed to keep the government functioning has risen to approximately $242 billion. But the largest yearly federal expenditures, “the big three,” are Medicare-Medicaid ($1 trillion), Social Security ($898 billion), and Defense ($586 billion). Numerous other smaller but still significant expenditures, many funding totally unconstitutional agencies and bureaus, add to the debt total. A large portion of the government’s expenditures is considered on “auto pilot,” meaning those agencies can’t be decreased.

Awareness of this situation doesn’t stop Uncle Sam for maintaining a foreign aid program. Ask a fourth grader, “If you’re heavily in debt, should you give away money?” The ten-year-old would look at you quizzically and say, “No, you shouldn’t.” We would be better off if we allowed a ten-year-old’s wisdom to prevail.

One question about the debt receives little attention. It is: to whom does the U.S. government pay interest on its indebtedness? The answer is everyone who holds government securities. Leading possessors of these securities (bonds) are China ($1.252 trillion), Japan ($1.133 trillion), and lesser but still large amounts held by Belgium, Ireland, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Taiwan. Our nation has been placed in a situation where China, Japan, or some other countries could dump their holdings, even knowingly take a loss in the process, but also knowing that they have impacted America’s credit rating and lowered the value of the dollar. A sudden drop in the dollar’s worth (it drops slowly all the time as more money is created by the Federal Reserve) would certainly affect every person within our borders.

Despite what everyone knows about the national debt, deficit spending continues. U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro recently told the Senate Budget Committee that the government will soon owe more than the entire U.S. economy produces. He also stated that several agencies of the federal government (e.g., Defense, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture) couldn’t be audited either because their books are in disarray or they refuse to cooperate with the government’s fiscal watchdog agency.

In short, the fiscal condition of the United States is bleak – and getting bleaker each year as government continues to borrow. Some may consider this a peculiar sort of wisdom. Realists consider it national suicide.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


The Flawed Balanced Budget Amendment

The Flawed Balanced Budget Amendment
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Texas Governor Greg Abbott favors creation of a Constitutional Convention in order ”to fix the cracks in our broken Constitution.” He is not alone in wanting such a gathering. But our nation’s problems don’t stem from a broken Constitution. They stem from legislation approved by leaders who have broken their solemn oath to abide by the Constitution’s limits on government.

What’s lost in all of this discussion is that an amendment should be considered if the Constitution is found deficient or in error. But the U.S. Constitution isn’t at fault; the fault lies with government officials who ignore the Constitution’s existing limitations.

Governor Abbott’s claims include his belief that the Constitution grants power to conduct a “convention of the states.” Such terminology does not appear in the Constitution’s Article V. If two-thirds of the states petition Congress to create a convention, it must indeed be created. And Congress, not the states, will have power granted in the Constitution’s Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 to decide where it will be held, who and how many will be the delegates from each state, who will pay them, and more. To call a constitution convention a “convention of the states” displays ignorance of the Constitution itself.

Further, like most advocates of a constitutional convention, Governor Abbott, who proposes nine different amendments, wants to add a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution. Balancing the budget is a good idea and the nation would be better off if the federal budget were balanced each year. But the numerous BBAs proposed are so full of loopholes that they make these proposals virtually meaningless. Each BBA proposal has one or more of the following flaws:

1. Expecting government officials to honor an amendment – however well intentioned such an expectation might be – when they currently refuse to honor the existing Constitution is an absurdity.
2. Some BBAs allow 60 percent in Congress to override the requirement for balancing the budget. Getting 60 percent for other outrageous measures is a regular occurrence.
3. Various BBAs make no mention of the growing problem resulting from declaring some huge expenditures “off budget.” Use of this tactic makes a joke of a balanced budget mandate.
4. Some BBAs call for increasing taxes as a way to balance the budget, even steering taxing authority to the Executive branch.
5. Proponents of some BBAs want a stipulation that the budget need not be balanced if there’s a war, or a real or cleverly contrived national emergency.
6. Various proponents say that a BBA won’t have to take effect for five years or more – thereby sanctioning the addition of more trillions to the nation’s already enormous indebtedness.
7. Finally, balancing the budget ignores already accumulated indebtedness requiring billions annually for interest payments.

There are likely other flaws in the various proposals calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment. What’s lost in all of this discussion is that an amendment should be considered if the Constitution is found deficient or in error. But the U.S. Constitution isn’t at fault; the fault lies with government officials who ignore the Constitution’s existing limitations.

If the Constitution as it exists today were honored by our nation’s officials, the federal government would shrink to 20 percent its size and 20 percent its cost. Gone would be foreign aid, and the Departments of Education, Housing, Transportation, Energy, Health and Human Services, and more. These government programs and agencies are not and never have been constitutionally authorized.

We have made no mention of the danger involved in the creation of a constitutional convention. Let’s simply say that, just as occurred in 1787 when a convention met simply to revise the Articles of Confederation, the delegates tossed the Articles away and came up with a whole new Constitution. Such an eventuality could occur in these times, and we could lose the Constitution we have. A Con-Con is a dangerous route that should not be followed.

Be sure to contact your state legislators to ask them to oppose a Constitutional Convention.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


What Altered Reality is President Obama In?

What Altered Reality is President Obama In?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

In his final State of the Union address, President Obama managed repeatedly to avoid reality. Simply stated, his performance as chief executive has harmed America. He ended his speech with the claim that “the State of our Union is strong.” Many Americans disagree. One clear measure of that disagreement is the powerful showing of a candidate seeking to succeed him who employs the slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Americans who support this candidate, and others as well, believe that our nation’s greatness isn’t strong.

In his speech, the President pointed to the nation’s “broken immigration system.” He has had seven years to fix it but, as he himself admitted, it’s still broken.

He called again for a raising the minimum wage, as if such a task fits within his job description. Sound thinking economists insist that arbitrarily forcing employers to pay higher wages discourages hiring, especially among the youth.

He took credit creating “14 million new jobs.” But whatever wealth-creating jobs have opened up aren’t the product of any government magic. Real jobs get created despite the taxes, regulations and bureaucratic control government creates.

He patted himself on the back for cutting the rate of unemployment when the figures regularly given by government don’t count the many would-be workers who have given up looking for a job.

He claimed the “No Child Left Behind” educational program had improved education. Reality shows it to be another failed scheme forced on the schools by the federal government.

The president’s cheers for solar and wind power failed to mention the tax breaks and subsidies the government provides for such industries. Even more, he skirted the fact that the combined product of both of these energy sources adds up to a mere one percent of what is needed to power our nation.

He took credit for cutting imports of foreign oil when those cuts really resulted from discovery by private enterprise of new domestic sources and new methods of obtaining previously unavailable oil and natural gas.

He insisted that our nation’s “standing around the world” has improved in the years he’s been in office, and he termed any disagreement with such a boast “political hot air.” The reality is that respect for America has declined substantially with him at the helm.

He claimed it is a “lie” to believe that radical Islamists spring from a reading of Islam’s holy books. While it surely is true that most Muslims don’t seek to implement some of the directives appearing in their basic creed, a minority does take what they find literally. And they act accordingly.

He urged acceptance of the dangerous Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new form of entanglement that will surely lead to surrendering hard-won independence just as European nations have surrendered theirs to the European Union.

He congratulated himself for steering the nation into climate change agreements. Yet the number of competent scientists who strongly disagree with the need for such action continues to grow.

Near the beginning of his speech, Mr. Obama praised America’s “commitment to the rule of law.” But, like numerous predecessors, he employs executive orders to make law, a horrendous flouting of the rule of law. He also sanctions sending our military into war without a constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. And he does nothing to abolish unconstitutional departments of energy, education, medicine, housing, and more. The rule of law has virtually disappeared.

Missing completely from his address, however, was any mention of the enormous national debt that will almost double during his presidency ($10.9 billion in 2009 to $20 billion when he leaves in 2017). Indebtedness that grows daily can alone destroy this nation.

The state of the union isn’t “strong.” It is weak and getting weaker. And much of the blame for this growing weakness can be laid on Barack Hussein Obama.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Another “Middle of the Road” Speaker?

Another “Middle of the Road” Speaker?
by JBS President John F. McManus

As Speaker of the House of Representatives, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan will surely collaborate with the forces whose efforts are destroying our nation. Over the years, his voting record shows him siding with liberals and progressives on numerous key issues. To expect him to perform differently in the powerful Speaker post is unwarranted wishful thinking.

Congressman Paul Ryan has a cumulative score of 58% on the Freedom Index, which demonstrates the amount of adherence to the Constitution (Image from Wikimedia Commons, United States Congress).

A member of the House since 1999, Ryan catapulted to national prominence as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. Claiming to be a disciple of hard line economists Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Murray Rothbard, he ascended to chairmanship of the House Budget Committee. Just prior to the failed Romney/Ryan run for the White House, he produced the GOP’s economic plan labeled “Path To Prosperity.” Not something Hayek, von Mises, or Rothbard would come close to championing, it called for reducing the federal deficit at a snail’s pace.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Ryan plan wouldn’t achieve a balanced budget until the year 2040. Rather than leading to “Prosperity,” it would necessarily add to the already enormous national debt year after year for several decades.

Examination of the Ryan record in Congress shows that, in 1992, he voted for Export-Import Bank reauthorization, raising the national debt ceiling, and establishing normal trade relations with Communist-led Vietnam. The debt ceiling vote passed the House 215-214, meaning that Ryan alone could have reversed approval of amassing more red ink. The Vietnam trade approval won passage by 215-213, meaning that rejection of the proposal by Ryan might well have led to full rejection of the measure by the entire House. In 2007, he cast a vote in favor of special rights for homosexuals, and in 2008, he voted for bailouts for Wall Street.

Last year, Ryan gave more indication that he is not a conservative when he sided with the GOP’s neoconservative wing to support sending weaponry to Syrian rebels. He then voted for a measure calling for the federal government to supply military equipment to local police forces, a dangerous path for the federal government to gain control over local police. In 2015, he cast votes for military aid to Ukraine and for Trade Promotion Authority for President Obama’s use in inserting our nation into the sovereignty-destroying trade agreements with Pacific nations and the European Union. Ryan has even supported amnesty for illegal immigrants.

During the brief period when the 40-member House Freedom Caucus resisted the choice of another Boehner-like Speaker, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who has never been the friend of any true conservative individual or measure, spoke in favor of Ryan becoming the new Speaker. He said, “I hope he gets it. We’ve been able to work with him.”

If Reid feels comfortable with Ryan as Speaker, conservatives and constitutionalists are in for more disappointment. We hope we’re wrong, but Paul Ryan’s record gives evidence that he’s not what America needs as Speaker.

View the voting records of those in Congress with The New American’s Freedom Index and then hold them accountable.

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Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.