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Republicans and the Growth of Government

by Andrew P. Napolitano
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As I write this on Election Day, I obviously don’t know the outcomes of the U.S. midterm elections. As you read this, you probably do. Most of my libertarian friends with whom I have spoken recently are hoping for a Republican victory.

I am not so sure I agree with them. Former Rep. Ron Paul, the living American I admire most, is not so sure either. He opined recently in an essay arguing that with the exception of blind opposition to all things Joe Biden — thus slowing the pace of increased federal spending — the Republicans are not much better than the Democrats.

This argument is in line with my own, which is that we don’t have a two-party system in America. We really have one political party — the Big Government Party. It has a Republican wing that likes war, corporate welfare, tax increases and borrowing, and a Democratic wing that likes war, individual welfare, tax increases and borrowing. Both wings enacted legislation to frustrate political competition, and both want more than anything just to stay in power.

In Congress, both wings of Big Government believe that they can right any wrong, regulate any behavior, tax any event and interfere in any process, whether the Constitution authorizes their legislation or not. Yet, Congress is a creature of the Constitution. The Constitution gives Congress only 16 discrete powers and one catch-all — to make all laws necessary and proper to effectuate the 16.

The Constitution came about when the 13 American colonies seceded from England in 1776 by violence and became 13 independent countries that referred to themselves as states.

Those 13 states formed the current central government in 1789 by ceding away the 16 discrete areas of governance — having to do with nationhood, not central planning — to the new federal government.

Through the course of wars — the War of 1812, the wars against Native Americans, Lincoln’s War Between the States, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — the federal government not only exported violence abroad; it sapped liberty at home and grew exponentially.

That’s what war does. It doesn’t spread liberty; it spreads killing. It enhances the health of the government because it induces higher taxes, a bigger military-industrial complex, nativist patriotism on the part of the masses, repression of civil liberties and a general compliance on the part of politicians. Both wings of Big Government have been complicit in this.

My Republican-voting libertarian friends need to be reminded what the GOP has done in the modern era. It has given us the Federal Reserve Act and its banker friends who collectively destroy the free market (nowhere countenanced by the Constitution), abolished money backed by the Gold Standard (which the Constitution requires), enacted the Bank Privacy Act (which permits the feds to subpoena bank records), enacted the wildly unconstitutional Patriot Act (which permits FBI warrantless spying on third-party custodians of records; like health care providers, lawyers, financial advisers, utility companies, computer service and telecom providers, and credit card companies).

The same Republicans have given us the Department of Education and its 4,400 bureaucrats (nowhere countenanced by the Constitution), the Department of Homeland Security and its 240,000 federal cops (nowhere countenanced by the Constitution), the National Security Agency and its 60,000 domestic spies (nowhere countenanced by the Constitution), the CIA and its 21,000 foreign spies and its secret wars (nowhere countenanced by the Constitution), the unconstitutional FISA Court and its domestic surveillance, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their $2 trillion tab (neither of which was declared by Congress).

In 110 years, the Big Government Party in Congress has spent $31 trillion more than the feds have collected in tax dollars. Thus, borrowing began in earnest under President Woodrow Wilson, who borrowed $30 billion to pay for American military involvement in World War I, a useless war that brought us the horrors of World War II, and prior to which the United States was not even arguably threatened by any of the combatants.

Wilson’s borrowing became typical of the practice of both Democratic and Republican presidents. The $30 billion has been refinanced but not retired. Thus far, the government has paid its borrowers $15 billion in interest on the $30 billion principal it still owes. Only Big Government pays a 50% interest rate.

As the Federal Reserve keeps raising interest rates, the cost of federal borrowing goes up. Thus, the government will do what is unthinkable to you and me and which no bank would permit us to do: It will borrow money to pay interest on already borrowed money without reducing principal.

Interest is the rent paid by the borrower to the lender. Interest rates should be the product of supply and demand like all other rentals. But Republican presidents have appointed the same mentality of central planners to the Federal Reserve Board as have Democrats.

The mentality of the Big Government Party is what St. Augustine condemned as libido dominandi — the lust to dominate.

Today, the Republicans — who expect to control at least one house of Congress in January — are threatening to decline to extend the government’s borrowing limit until they get their way on other legislation. This will result not in less spending but in more — just titled toward the military industrial complex and other Republican favorites. Republicans may slow the rate at which the government grows. But they will still grow it.

Government today is an instrument of repression and a grab bag of giveaways. Only true libertarians who mistrust all government and regard it as something to be starved and not fed can save our liberty and property. But don’t hold your breath waiting for this. Democracy does not ensure freedom. It ensures the confiscation and redistribution of wealth.


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