Watching President Joe Biden’s address to Congress, I thought, “They should replace “Hail to the Chief” with “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Mr. Biden all but declared Christmas had arrived early — stripped of religious significance, reduced to a commercialized infamia.
My late boss, Rush Limbaugh, lamented of far more modest spending by President Obama, saying, “It’s impossible to compete with Santa Claus.” It’s as if Mr. Biden heard Rush’s remarks about “Baracka Claus” and said, “That’s the ticket!”
Mr. Biden pitched $1.8 trillion in “investment” here and $2.3 trillion there on top of the $1.9 trillion last month on top of the trillions spent under his predecessor. He then said, as Washingtonians do, that a crisis is an opportunity to fill your wish list, which means any disasters caused by writing checks, they’ll fix by writing more checks.
In a nation that owes nearly $1 trillion on credit cards, we can’t un-ring the jingle bell. So our leaders will continue with these Christmas pageants. Someone dresses up as President Claus, while an opposition Grinch growls, “Who’s paying for all these stimulus packages, boxes and bags?” Then after an election, they swap costumes.
Yes, everything we want will be under the tree if we just lobby hard enough! No one wants harsh truths on Christmas. That’s why the president reached for the aspirational themes and unifying rhetoric of a Charlie Brown special, saying that these things weren’t “political” and that everyone “left, right and center” agreed.
Many Republicans did indeed applaud, because unless you’re a Philadelphia Eagles fan, nobody boos Santa Claus. The Republicans will criticize Biden’s spending in fund-raising letters, but do nothing for fiscal sanity when they drive the sleigh.
Even Ronald Reagan failed to hold Speaker Tip O’Neill, Massachusetts Democrat, to promised spending cuts, and when the Gipper left office in 1989, America had a budget deficit of almost half the GDP.
But we also had the USSR lying broken at Lady Liberty’s feet to show for it. Today, annual deficits are routinely three times Reagan’s. What will we have purchased for a true national debt that, according to the Club for Growth, hit over $123 trillion on April 21?
And there’s no way taxing the rich their “fair share” can pay for it. Even the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, has a mere $0.18 trillion, and you can only take it once. There will never be enough money to keep Mr. Biden’s promise to fund these proposals without growing the deficit.
It’s all the Whos down in Whoville that will pay, not just in higher taxes and by funding a belligerent war machine in Beijing, but through inflation, unless we stop printing money as if it’s the faces of dead presidents that give our currency value.
Reality isn’t heartless, it’s just reality. One of those dead presidents, Ulysses S. Grant, suffered deeper adult poverty than any man to ever reach the White House. Yet he vetoed an 1874 bill to print up $100 million, because the pain of inflation would far outweigh the temporary sugar high.
Presidents, regardless of party, used to see it as their duty to check congressional power of the purse, and the impulse to run a D.C.-to-LA train line through the Speaker’s district in Alaska. That’s why, in the original draft of his farewell address, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the “military-industrial-congressional complex.”
Over his three-decade career, many Republican leaders took issue with Rush for calling out their wild spending, and now here we are. The government doesn’t even care who’s naughty or nice anymore, so they send $1,400 checks to Neo-Nazi Dylann Roof and other monsters on the Island of Misfit Toys.
We are routinely spending twice what we earn every year on the latest Pet Rock, Furby, or Atari 2600, and it’s not sustainable. Just look at Venezuela. Once a rich nation, perched atop the world’s largest oil reserves, it’s now lays in ruins.
Hugo Chavez destroyed it with the siren song of spending your way to Christmas morning, while people in the House Chamber last night, like Bernie Sanders, applauded that South American Santa. Chavez is dead, but the suffering lives on.
In his first inaugural address, FDR told the nation, “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly.” Maybe next year, the president will echo those words and make debt reduction more than a throwaway line.
More likely, he and the presidents who follow will continue to say, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus — and that goes for the other 49 states, as well.”
• Dean Karayanis is content producer for “The Rush Limbaugh Show” and host of “History Author Show” on iHeartRadio.