The 16 day shutdown of 17% of the Federal Government is now over. All of those furloughed workers are back at work and will be given back pay, an angst-filled 16 day paid vacation, courtesy of the American taxpayer. The National Parks will reopen. Obamacare escapes unscathed, and now the government can borrow money again, our National debt, free once more to continue its skyward trajectory without the pesky intrusion of a debt limit. Meanwhile, 16 days after its rollout, the State of Delaware yesterday celebrated its very first successful Obamacare enrollee. I’d say that things are going swimmingly.
Bill Clinton famously stood before a joint session of Congress in 1996 to declare that the era of big government was over. Aside from the fact that it wasn’t true lies the fact that it can never be true. Government, like the universe, is and will ever be a constantly expanding project. Ronald Reagan himself, perhaps the greatest champion of limited government ever to occupy the Oval Office presided over an eight year expansion of the state. All anyone of Libertarian sensibilities can hope for is a slowing of its growth, and now with the arrival of the mother of all entitlements, Obamacare, even that hope has been crushed. Republican stunts like this shutdown/defund Obamacare disaster are nothing more than tilting at windmills. Don Quixote vs. Leviathan.
But I struggle mightily, against all evidence, to remain an optimist. There are benefits to towering debt, escalating interest payments and exploding actuarial assumptions. There will be less and less money available for military misadventures abroad. Twenty years from now when 40% of the budget is consumed by interest payments on the debt, future President Kardashian will think twice before sending troops to the Middle East since the budget for such adventures will be $ 32.99. Its past time that our Defense budget got scaled back, and now it will have to be. Ultimately, people in democracies get what they want, and the American people have for the past 50 years, more often than not, voted for the guy who promises the most stuff. Now, we are scrambling around, shutting down the government, trying to figure out a way to pay for it all. Welcome to our future.
Twenty years from now, we will all be paying higher taxes for all levels of government, and I do mean all of us, not just the evil 1%. Our National debt in the year 2033 will make our present debt look like a rounding error. But, at least our health care will be free, and besides…I’d still rather live in a totally broke America than anywhere else. At least we aren’t Bangladesh.
Remember, I’m an optimist.