The Big Lie Americans Tell Ourselves 

Representative Jodey Arrington, a Republican from Texas, center, speaks during a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. Congress passed a temporary spending bill to avert a partial US government shutdown this weekend, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden for his expected signature. Photographer: Julia Nikhinson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
gnature. Photographer: Julia Nikhinson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

There is a big lie that we in the United States keep telling ourselves. It is particularly true on the political Right, but it’s true across the board.

Here’s the lie: We want our government to be fiscally responsible in some way, shape, or form. It’s clearly a lie because we keep electing politicians who eschew being fiscally responsible in any way, shape, or form, regardless of who runs the government.

The spending keeps going in one direction — and that direction is up. There’s a reason we are running a $34 trillion national debt at this point in time, and it is likely that that more debt is going to continue to accrue because nobody takes this problem particularly seriously.

And they’re not going to take that problem seriously until we run smack into a wall.

That is typically how fiscal crises work: A country spends too much money. They’re unable to rein it back in because there are too many people who become dependent on that spending of the money. Then, instead of creating some sort of plan to get out of debt, people just keep running up those debts, keep running up those deficits until the time comes we have to take extremely harsh remediating action.

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That is the high likelihood here. Why do I say this? Because yesterday the House Republicans, as well as the House Democrats, overwhelmingly passed yet another continuing resolution. And this is the way we now fund the government because we’re not able to actually have serious negotiations on any department level with regard to spending; we’re not able to negotiate over how much should be spent on defense or how much should be spent on education.

Instead, we wrap everything up into a ball and when we can’t get approval on a year-long budget, we go to continuing resolutions, which are the short-form budgets that continue the government spending. And we keep the drain running and the trend will run until the train runs completely off those tracks.

And by the way, the people who are telling you that the continuing resolution should have been pushed aside in favor of something harsher, in favor of a government shutdown, or in favor of a harder bargaining position with Joe Biden, are fibbing to you about the incentive structure. Unless you have a unified Republican control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency, you’re not going to get the kind of spending cuts that make it worthwhile for you to risk your seats. Because I’ll tell you what happens: You do a government shutdown, you’re going to end up passing a continuing resolution anyway, and a bunch more people are going to lose their seats.

The easiest thing in Congress is to get lost in a crowd, to simply side with an overwhelming majority of people who say status quo, “Let’s just keep doing what it is that we are doing right now.”  Internal Republican rules prevent any Republican from moving forward with a bill that does not have at least the support of the majority of Republicans. So it came very close to the wire on this particular bill.

Texas Republican Chip Roy, who does take the problem of spending seriously, was blasting everybody Right, Left, and Center about not only the spending, but also the fact that nobody in Congress seems to want to solve serious problems anymore. He wound up saying, “It doesn’t matter who’s sitting in the Speaker’s seat or who has the majority. We keep doing the same stupid stuff.”

That requires us to ask a pretty simple question: Why is it that we keep doing the same stupid stuff? Is that a matter of not having the right people in power? Or is it just that the American people refuse to recognize the reality about themselves, which is that we constantly say that we want to balance the budget; we constantly say we want to spend less money, and then as soon as there is a poll asking what we would like to cut, we all run for the hills and we have no idea what it is that we would like to cut.

The reality is, in order for any serious major change to get done, you must have unified party control over Congress, over the Senate, over the presidency, and a dedication by that party to take the hit. 

Democrats take the hits, by the way. There’s something the Democrats are good at.

Democrats took the hit in 2010. They passed Obamacare and then they got shellacked at the polls. It was an exceptionally bad midterm for them. And they jumped ahead because they knew if they could completely restructure the health care system, in the end, these would become entitlements people relied upon. They would rather take the short-term hit for the long-term gain.

When was the last time Republicans took a short-term hit for the long-term gain? The answer is they haven’t. The reason they don’t is because they’re afraid they will be tossed out of office. So it’s up to the American people to tell Washington that we actually want the spending cuts. 


Politicians make a living by lying to you and you have a choice: Your choice is whether you like being lied to. You decide to go along with their lies or whether you don’t like being lied to. Any politician who says he can save you, save your family, or save your society by spending money here or by restructuring a program there is lying to you. 

The vast majority of choices in your life are up to you. When people rely on politicians too much, they end up shooting themselves in the foot. 

Then they buy into the next grifter who comes along and suggests he’s going to fix whatever problems are at hand.

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