12 January 2011

Stupid Advice

Thomas Sowell is the reason I want to be an economist, and I view him as the most intelligent thinker of the last two decades.  However, what he wrote at Townhall today is simply inane:

In the wake of the Republicans' triumphs in last November's elections, great hopes are being held out that Republican control of the House of Representatives can slam the brakes on Barack Obama's march toward a completely government-controlled economy and ruinous deficit spending.
The first big step toward that goal could be forcing the Obama administration to cut back on spending, as the price of raising the national debt ceiling, which will be necessary early on in this new Congress, if the federal government is not going to be forced to shut down for lack of money.
Much of the runaway spending in Washington has been a spending of money that the government doesn't have in the till, by borrowing money through the sale of government bonds-- in other words, running up a record high national debt.
Because there is a legal limit on how much national debt the government can create, the spending has to be cut back or the debt ceiling increased by Congress. Otherwise, the government is going to have to shut down many of its operations for lack of money. [Emphasis mine]

For some reason, I was under the impression that the whole point of the debt ceiling is to force the government to cut spending, or at least keep spending under control.  Stupid me.

The truth of the matter is that Republicans don’t have to fight Obama at all.  They just have to oppose raising the debt ceiling.  And if they are smart enough, they should be able to force the Democrats to choose where to make the cuts which makes them take the political heat.

Ultimately, Dr. Sowell’s advice is particularly insidious because he essentially tells the Republicans to trade a temporary spending cut (which would likely be merely nominal) for a permanent raise in the debt ceiling.  Instead, he should be advising Republicans to tell the Democrats to stuff it, and focus on radically decreasing spending (and by “radically decreasing spending” I mean running an actual surplus).

Yes, there is a time for bipartisanship.  It just isn’t now, and certainly not in this manner.

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