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.


Executive Orders, Subject to the People

Executive Orders, Subject to the People 
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

In a nation where people enjoy freedom, laws are made by a parliament, a congress, or some similar assemblage of elected officials. These lawmakers owe their posts to voters and are, in the main, subject to the people. But, as history has repeatedly shown, the laws in many nations are made by the decrees of a king or dictator who relies on virtually almighty power to rule.

The signing of an executive order on the Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government.

The signing of an executive order on the Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, (photo by White House Photo Office [Public domain by Pete Souza], via Wikimedia Commons).

America’s Founders knew well the excesses of that kind of power. So they declared themselves independent, fought a war to get out from under a king’s dictates, and won the struggle to be free. The very first clause in the 1787 Constitution they created left all law-making power in the hands of Congress. Under the rules established by the U.S. Constitution, the president is charged with the responsibility, not to make law, but to see that all laws properly enacted would be faithfully executed.

In the performance of his duties, a president can issue executive orders that have the force of law – but only among those who serve under him. A presidential executive order is proper when directed at government employees. While he serves, a president is much like the CEO of a company who certainly has a right to issue orders binding his employees.

In 1793, during his first term in office, George Washington issued an executive order declaring America’s neutrality in the war between France and England. Our first president soon realized that the protests of Madison and Jefferson against his executive mandate were correct. He then asked Congress to issue a law declaring the sought-after neutrality and Congress complied. There were no more presidential misuses of the executive order power for approximately 70 years.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln overstepped his authority and issued executive orders that suspended habeas corpus, blockaded southern ports, and emancipated southern slaves. He cited his role as “commander in chief” of the military to do so. Later, following the pattern set by Washington, he asked Congress to amend the Constitution to prohibit all slavery. Which was done. A measure of respect for the limitations on presidential power still existed during that period of history. Then in 1866, the Supreme Court in Ex Parte Milligan explained those limitations as follows:

The power to make necessary laws is in Congress; the power to execute in the President…. But neither can the President, in war more than in peace, intrude upon the proper authority of Congress, nor Congress upon the proper authority of the President.

Fast forward to today. In its first seven years, the Obama administration issued 560 major regulations via executive orders. Each had significant economic or social consequences for the entire nation. His wrongful reliance on the power to issue improper executive orders followed President George W. Bush’s issuance of half the number created by President Obama. As reported by Binyamin Applebaum and Michael D. Shear in the August 28, 2016 issue of the New York Times, the Obama orders aimed, among other targets, to “restructure the nation’s health care and financial industries, limit pollution, bolster workplace protections, and extend equal rights to minorities.” The Times reporters added that Obama’s reliance on executive orders “has imposed billions of dollars in new costs on businesses and consumers.”

Barack Obama has even stated his intention to use “my pen” if Congress doesn’t enact laws he wants. Too often, Congress has caved in and tolerated such completely illicit contempt for the Constitution. This docility of the legislative branch has to stop. No king or all-powerful ruler should be making laws for our nation.

Congress should declare any executive order aimed at the entire population completely null. All presidents should follow the lesson George Washington learned while he served as President. All Americans should become familiar with Article I, Section 1, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution where Congress is named as the sole possessor of “All legislative powers.”

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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.


Restraining the Courts on Marriage

Restraining the Courts on Marriage
by JBS President John F. McManus

While it is true that many Americans are woefully unfamiliar with the U.S. Constitution, it is also true that some members of Congress have a deficient appreciation of the document. They know when they have to stand for reelection. And they know the part about receiving compensation for their services. But many seem to have forgotten (or never knew in the first place) that only Congress – not the President and not the federal courts – has power to make law; only Congress can send the nation into war; and only Congress has power to coin money.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) (Image from Flickr by Gage Skidmore Some rights reserved).

Also little known is the portion of Article III which states: “The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” In simple terms, this means that the only federal court required is the Supreme Court; all federal district courts could be abolished by Congress. Not only that, Section 2 of this Article gives power to Congress to limit the jurisdiction of all federal courts.

When forced busing of school children was ordered by federal courts in the 1970s, then-Congressman Larry McDonald introduced legislation to bar all federal courts from having anything to say about placement of youngsters in schools. He cited Article III, Section 2 as the authority for such a step. His measure didn’t gather enough support in Congress to be enacted but many who served at the time were at least forced to recognize that Congress possessed such power and that it actually existed and could be employed.

On April 22nd of this current year, Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) filed H. R. 1968, the “Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015.” Relying on Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, he seeks to remove jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and all lower federal courts to “hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, any type of marriage.” Mr. King stated his belief that the Congress could put a halt to the possibility that the Supreme Court would actually redefine marriage in a decision expected in June.

Nine co-sponsors immediately announced their support for H. R. 1968. They are Babin and Gohmert of Texas, Duncan of Tenn., LaMalfa of Cal., Massie of Ky., Palazzo of Miss., Thompson of Penn., Walberg of Mich., and Yoho of Fla.

Commenting on his measure, Congressman King said that removal of federal jurisdiction over the definition of marriage would have no effect on the states, each of which could decide the matter for its own people. But he was especially concerned that a mere five judges at the Supreme Court level could overturn the definition of marriage for the entire country, a definition that has been held for millennia in which marriage is considered only to be between one man and one woman.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has introduced an identical bill in the Senate (S.1080). As of this writing, no Senate co-sponsors have been garnered.

Members of the House of Representatives should be contacted (call 202-225-3121 and email) and asked to support H. R. 1968. Thanks should be sent to Rep. King and the co-sponsors of H.R. 1968. A companion bill in the Senate (S. 1080) has been introduced by Texas Senator Ted Cruz. No Senate co-sponsors have yet been enlisted. Contact (call 202-224-3121) your senators to get them to co-sponsor and support the bill. Utilizing the email link above will send to both the House and the Senate, but be sure to call. Congressmen tell us that phone calls are more effective than emails.

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Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and 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.


Alabama Chief Justice Defiant Over Same-Sex Rulings

Alabama Chief Justice Defiant Over Same-Sex Rulings
by JBS President John F. McManus

For many years, a monument depicting the Ten Commandments was prominently situated in Alabama’s main judicial building. In 2000, the state’s chief justice, Judge Roy Moore, balked at being told by federal officials that its presence in such a public place violated the U.S. Constitution and had to go. Moore fought that demand and lost. He was then removed from his post and the monument came down.

In 2006, with threats against the institution of marriage developing throughout the nation, Alabama’s voters overwhelmingly (more that 80 percent) chose to amend their state’s constitution in order to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Then in 2012, voters put Moore back into the post he previously held.

The truly popular chief justice is back in the news. Moore just sent a letter to Governor Robert Bentley urging defiance of “judicial tyranny.” He specifically asked the governor and other state officials to ignore a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie Grenade stating that the definition of marriage in Alabama had to conform to recent federal rulings recognizing same-sex marriage. Moore stated in his letter to Bentley, “As you know, nothing in the United States Constitution grants the federal government the authority to redefine the institution of marriage.” He further pointed out that the people of Alabama had only recently amended the state’s constitution stating that marriage is a “sacred covenant, solemnized between a man and a woman.”

Moore’s letter even cited an 1825 opinion registered by Thomas Jefferson regarding nullification of unconstitutional federal mandates, a stand he will stand by. States, said Jefferson, could refuse to comply with unjust and unconstitutional federal dictates. Moore also pointed to the Tenth Amendment and its clear affirmation that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution” remain with the states and the people – and no such delegation of power had ever been made. Governor Bentley issued a statement supporting Judge Moore’s call for defiance.

Defenders of traditional marriage may indeed salute Judge Moore. But the attack on the institution of marriage continues. Federal courts have already sanctioned same-sex marriage in 21 states and pressure from the homosexual lobby continues to grow. In no other state has Moore’s style of resistance been adopted. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the matter this year. Judge Moore’s expression of defiance may well be tested again.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and 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.


Wrong Way to Make Law

Wrong Way to Make Law
by JBS President John F. McManus

Every federal official solemnly swears an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. Once having met that requirement, practically all of these officials put the document in their bottom drawer and continue building unconstitutional government power.

The Constitution allows for creation of three government branches. The Legislative branch is empowered to make law; the Executive branch has the responsibility to see that laws are properly enforced. And the Judicial branch has the responsibility to ensure that no laws exceed the powers given to it and the other branches.

To begin to grasp how far the Constitution is being ignored, consider its very first sentence: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States ….” All law-making power belongs to Congress. Can Congress legitimately delegate its law-making power to the Executive branch? In Essay #78 of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton emphatically answered that delegation of authority is improper. He stated: “There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void.”

But presidents continue to make law by issuing executive orders. When doing so, they ignore the very first sentence in the Constitution. President Clinton’s aide Paul Begala jubilantly saluted this trashing of the Constitution when he enthused about the way his boss was making law by decree: “Stroke of the pen; Law of the land; Kinda cool!”

Not only is law being made by presidential decrees, a veritable flood of additional law is continually being handed down by an array of bureaucratic agencies. This process occurs repeatedly when Congress improperly delegates its authority to the unelected bureaucrats. The American people are expected to know and obey all of these dictates. Some are regularly surprised when enforcement of unknown regulations causes them grief.

In 1999, when President Clinton faced trial by the Senate as part of the impeachment process, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich issued a newspaper column headlined, “Trial ties up Senate? Don’t worry, Congress is irrelevant.” He claimed that our nation’s domestic policy was being run by the Federal Reserve; its foreign policy in the hands of agencies of the United Nations; and the sole congressional authority to send the nation into war had been transferred to the president. His conclusion that Congress has become “irrelevant” was hardly excessive. But that was 1999. Trashing the Constitution had not only become routine; the process has gotten worse.

James Madison stated in Federalist #45: “The powers by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.” He would be aghast at what government is doing today. Americans should be equally aghast, not only elected and appointed officials, but all Americans. We have a Constitution designed to limit government to very few powers. But it is of little or no value if it isn’t adhered to.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and 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.


How Did “Withdraw All Troops” Become Adding Thousands?

How Did “Withdraw All Troops” Become Adding Thousands? 
by JBS President John F. McManus

Is it correct to state that after nearly eight years of war in Iraq and the loss of 4,500 American lives the United States has finally pulled all of its forces out of Iraq? The answer is an emphatic “No.” Reports in mid-December confirm that the “U.S.-led” coalition will be beefed up to 4,600 troops, most of whom will be Americans.

Has President Obama kept his oft-stated promise to pull all of America’s forces out of Afghanistan? Again, an emphatic “No.” A total of 5,500 will remain at least until the end of 2015.

Any honest examination of these two wars has to conclude that they were failures. And if anyone wants to use the adjective “colossal,” he’ll get no argument from this corner.

The Iraq War began in 2003 for two main reasons: 1) Saddam Hussein was building nuclear bombs and other “weapons of mass destruction,” and 2) Iraq was allied with Al Qaeda and was, therefore, partly responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. Both of these claims have been shown to be totally false.

In February 2009, President Obama said that all U.S. forces would be withdrawn from Iraq except for 50,000. In April 2009, the President announced the end of combat in Iraq. In August 2010, Mr. Obama said “the American mission in Iraq has ended.” And in October 2011, he promised that all American forces would be out of the country by the end of 2011. The effort has cost the U.S. 4,490 lives, and possibly ten times that number injured.

In mid-December 2014, however, General James Terry announced that 1,500 more troops (mostly Americans) would be added to the 3,100 still in Iraq. They are needed, according to U.S. officials, because a huge chunk of Iraq has been conquered by the forces of ISIS.

The Afghanistan War began in 2001 shortly after 9/11 and it has become the longest war in U.S. history (more than 13 years). In May 2014, U.S. officials announced that all combat operations had ended. 2,200 Americans died and 19,600 suffered wounds in Afghanistan. But outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced in December that 1,000 extra troops would be added to the 9,800 still there.

In other words, the U.S. has not withdrawn from either of these nations.

Any honest observer of conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan would have to conclude that the wars fought in both have been failures. Withdrawing completely should be the plan, not leaving thousands in each country.

Consider: Immediately after the 1941 attack at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. declared war against Japan, Germany, and Italy. Victory was achieved in what were really two separate wars, one in the Pacific and one in Europe. But there has been no declaration of war by Congress since 1941. The wars fought after WWII (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan) brought stalemates or defeats. The truth is that each of these post-WWII conflicts was waged under the oversight of the UN or its NATO subsidiary.

All of which leads to two conclusions: 1) America should bring all of its troops home, and 2) the U.S should withdraw from the United Nations. Maintaining national independence cannot be done while our leaders continue to submit to the UN.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and 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.


Deficits Invite Catastrophe

Deficits Invite Catastrophe
by JBS President John F. McManus

Former Michigan Congressman David Stockman (1977-1981) accepted appointment as Director of the Office of Management and Budget at the launching of the Reagan administration in 1981. He stayed in that post until 1985 and left forecasting larger deficits than had ever been compiled by any previous president. He now issues his thoughts about the nation’s finances in what is called “Stockman’s Corner.”

In a recent posting, Stockman recalled that the national debt went beyond the $1 trillion plateau on October 22, 1981. His pointing this out reminded me of the “No Trillion Dollar Debt” campaign waged by The John Birch Society during that year. It was surely not one of the organization’s most successful efforts.

Stockman noted that it took 205 years to compile a single trillion dollars of indebtedness. He calculated that all those years added up to 74,984 days. But the admitted national debt, now at $18 trillion, saw its latest addition of a $1 trillion dollars added to the debt total in a single 365-day year.

We often hear that President Reagan created a minimal government and was as thrifty with the people’s money as any president had ever been. But the figures tell a different story. The Reagan-G.H.W. Bush years (1981-1993) produced three times the average annual deficit that had been amassed during the peacetime years led by Democrats Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter combined. Stockman even quotes Dick Cheney, who served in the first Bush administration, saying “deficits don’t matter.” The problem is that they do matter – very much.

Stockman expects the unrestrained government will add “at least $15 trillion of new public debt in the decade ahead.” That amount of accumulated red ink added to the total will likely top the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the year 2024.

What does all of this mean for Americans? It means that the future will grow dimmer every year, and that the nation will become more seriously beholden to creditors such as communist-led China that has vowed to destroy the U.S.

There is no way out of this increasingly grim situation but a sharp cutback in federal spending. Instead, led by a President who cares little about deficits and by leaders of both political parties who are strongly disinclined to cease buying votes with the people’s money and the Federal Reserve’s continual creation of dollars backed by nothing, the outlook for fiscal sanity appears extremely poor.

Over the years, Stockman has stated that “the Republican Party has totally abdicated its job … as guardian of fiscal discipline” and that the GOP “was hijacked by modern imperialists during the Reagan era.” Correct! As for himself, he has stated that he “invests in anything that Bernanke can’t destroy, including gold, canned beans, bottled water and flashlight batteries.”

Of course, Ben Bernanke no longer sits atop the Federal Reserve. The privately owned and completely unconstitutional Fed is led by Janet Yellen. There is no reason to expect any change in America’s suicidal fiscal policies.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and 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.