Worrisome National Debt: What We Need To Do

Worrisome National Debt
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Close to 50 years ago, a fairly widespread put-down of worries about the national debt included the ridiculous claim that federal indebtedness was nothing to worry about because “we owe it to ourselves.” Anyone trying to get his portion would find how ridiculous that claim was. And 50 years ago, the national debt was less than five percent of the astronomical total that has been reached today.

The United States has become the greatest debtor nation in all history. This is a situation that ought to be front-page news every day – but it isn’t (Photo from Flickr by Chris Potter www.ccPixs.com, CC BY 2.0).

At the end of the first week in May 2017, the admitted national debt stood at $19.9 trillion. That’s $19,900,000,000,000, an amount hard even to imagine. Before the current month passes into history, the $20 trillion plateau will be reached. Can a nation spend itself into extinction? The answer is yes. And our nation is doing exactly that. Let’s look at some figures.

When the U.S. government spends more than it takes in, it borrows. It might seem a bit unbelievable, but one of the two greatest holders of U.S. government debt is Communist China. The Beijing regime and Japan each hold more than $1 trillion in IOUs signed by U.S. officials. This means that our government is in hock to China, not only for the amount the Chinese Reds provided, but also for interest on the trillion dollars they have provided.

China happens to be a country whose leaders have declared America to be an enemy they seek to destroy. Beyond what is sent to China annually, interest payments go to Japan, Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, and numerous other countries holding U.S. bonds. And, of course, many American citizens have loaned money to the government, and they have to be paid interest as well.

Interest payments to other countries – and to any private individual who holds a U.S. bond – total $442 billion per year. That’s not too far from the current annual deficit. If there were no need to send interest payments to existing creditors, Congress and the president might be able to balance the budget. But interest has to be paid.

The situation described above isn’t the whole story. The $19.9 trillion admitted indebtedness happens to be a grossly incomplete amount because unfunded future obligations aren’t considered. The two largest and unfunded federal programs are Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security. These two currently spend more that $2 trillion per year and the money to keep them going has to be borrowed. The noose around our country’s neck is getting tighter every day.

The United States has become the greatest debtor nation in all history. This is a situation that ought to be front-page news every day – but it isn’t. It ought to be the lead item on the daily newscasts on television and radio – but it isn’t. It ought to be a topic for serious examination in economics classes at colleges and even high schools – but it isn’t.

The accumulated national debt of the United States arrived at the $1 trillion figure during the Reagan administration. Each succeeding president (Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama) has presided over steadily worsening increases. Annual deficit spending and borrowing to cover it reached new highs during the Obama years. The George W. Bush years weren’t much better.

Just a brief glimpse at all of this red ink is frightening. So, the question arises: What to do about it? How about terminating foreign aid? America, drowning in debt, actually gives away money. How about getting the federal government out of education, energy, medical care, and other areas where it has no constitutional authorization to be involved? How about putting an end to the U.S. military being the policeman of the world?

In other words, how about a real change at the top that would see our leaders standing solidly behind their oath to abide by the Constitution? If they would honor their oath, deficit spending would cease, paying off creditors would begin, and America would soon cease being in hock to other nations – especially to any that are sworn enemies.

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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.

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.

States Show Signs of Recognizing Their Sovereignty

States Show Signs of Recognizing Their Sovereignty
by JBS President John F. McManus

A largely forgotten or ignored feature of the political construction of the United States consists of the undeniable fact that the states created the federal government, not the other way around. The states, of course, existed before the Constitution was even written. The Constitution wouldn’t even exist if it hadn’t been ratified by the required 3/4s of the states. The purpose of this state-created Constitution is very clear: There shall be a national government with strictly limited powers and all other powers shall remain with the states or the people (10th Amendment).

If the states are sovereign and the federal (national) government oversteps its constitutionally limited role, what is a state (or all of the states) to do? One answer is nullification, a little-used procedure that shows signs of becoming strongly prominent.

On March 19th, the state of Idaho demonstrated its understanding that the federal government isn’t all-powerful. A measure known as SB 1332 won passage without any “No” votes in both houses of the state’s legislature. It was then signed into law by the governor. SB 1332 says that there shall be no confiscation of firearms by Idaho law enforcement officers when directed to do so by the federal government. The measure was prompted by the enactment of various measures by the federal government that do indeed threaten a citizen’s right to be armed.

In Georgia, the state legislature came within a whisker of nullifying ObamaCare when the state senate declined to follow the Georgia house’s approval of a measure to nullify that widely unpopular federal measure. Proponents say they will try again. Other states, looking at what has happened in these two states (and others where nullification measures are being considered), are beginning to realize that they are not mere subordinate jurisdictions required to accept robotically and carry out all federal mandates.

Opponents of nullification will cite a portion of the Constitution’s Article VI: “This Constitution and the laws of the United States … shall be the law of the land.” Sounds good but they leave out something. Proponents point to the part of Article VI omitted by the above ellipsis which states “which shall be made in pursuance thereof.” In other words, the federal government cannot create any law whose legitimacy does not follow the provisions of the Constitution itself.

Perhaps some states will begin to take a hard look at such federal mandates regarding education, housing, medical care, energy, and more. There is clearly no authority given in the Constitution for meddling in these and numerous other areas.

State recognition of the power to nullify when the federal government exceeds its constitutionally authorized power could become the nation’s way out of virtually uncontrolled federal domination. To join the movement in your area to do just this, join The John Birch Society today.

New SAT Announced by Architect of Common Core

New SAT Announced by Architect of Common Core
by JBS President John F. McManus

The College Board has long provided the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). For aspiring college entrants, winning acceptance by the institution of one’s choice has depended to a large degree on how well he or she scored on the three-hour SAT. Preparatory instruction seminars designed to help students do well on the test became a fixture in many communities.

SAT has faced competition from a rival known as ACT (American College Test). Tutoring prior to taking its test has also flourished. Where SAT had always dominated the field, its grip on testing high schoolers has shrunk. In 2013, ACT counted 1.8 million takers while SAT slipped to second place with 1.7 million.

In 2012, Common Core Standards architect David Coleman left his federal post and accepted the presidency of College Board, the parent of SAT. He indicated he was leaving his work with the highly criticized and controversial Common Core program in order to improve the SAT which, he claimed, “had become disconnected from the work of our high schools.” Common Core has already demonstrated that its goals will substitute technical and procedural education for traditional and classical studies in the fields of literature, math, science, etc. In other words, the new Common Core program will revolutionize education.

Unfortunately, approximately 45 state education boards have signed on to the new Common Core Standards. That they were bribed to do so by federal education handouts is key to understanding their speedy and ill-advised acceptance. It would now seem that David Coleman’s newly announced plans to revise SAT will accommodate the work he has already done as a Common Core architect. Because various state education boards have already committed to Common Core, they will of necessity stay with or revert back to SAT. Rival ACT will obviously have to adapt to what students are being given by Common Core.

Lost in the discussions about SAT being reworked is the chilling news that educational quality in the United States continues to plummet. Now anywhere from 17th to 25th in national ratings, our country doesn’t need a revised SAT as much as it needs the federal government out of education. Try to find authorization for federal involvement in education in the Constitution. One doesn’t need a high score on either SAT or ACT to see it doesn’t exist, Which leads to the conclusion that tinkering with the tests given to aspiring college entrants isn’t what’s needed. Getting fedgov out of education and letting communities across the nation manage their own schools is far more important, if the plunge into mediocrity and worse is to be reversed.