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Washington's Tangled Web Of Deception

Investor's Business Daily
August 26, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." -Sir Walter Scott
It's not just that the wheels are coming off President Obama's credibility; they're also starting to come off the federal government in general.

Washington is no longer able to hide its failures behind the flag. Its mistakes are too obvious and too costly. Even ardent "my country, right or wrong" patriots are now distinguishing between America the nation, which we all rightly revere, and the political enterprise in Washington - which nearly everyone now distrusts.

The politicos in Washington have gone into business for themselves. And most folks - like newly price-conscious consumers - aren't any longer buying the elixirs that Washington is peddling. They all cost too much, almost none of them work, and most have severe side effects.

People are asking: "Is the government so incompetent that it can't foresee the obvious consequence of its actions?" "Is it deliberately trying to make us worse off?"

Washington taxes us in the way that is well-known to do the maximum amount of damage to us and our economy per dollar of revenue raised. It then spends our money in ways that often do more harm than good.

Bounty That Backfires

Misdirected federal subsidies since 1965 have bid up the inflation-adjusted price of medical care for everyone.

Since the 1980s, ever-increasing government grants and subsidies for selected college students have induced commensurate increases in the tuition charged by schools. The result has been to leave subsidized students little better off than before and, in the case of everyone else, to make postsecondary education almost unaffordable.

In the name of promoting homeownership, Washington helped cause a mortgage crisis that has put many families on the street. In the name of the environment, the government won't let us drill for oil - and forces us, instead, to make ethanol out of our food and the Earth's limited supply of water.

Washington bans most immigrants who have education and skills that would create new wealth in America and make us all better off - but since 1975, it has willfully admitted millions of unskilled immigrants who take from America far more than they add.

When our businesses prosper and get bigger, they are penalized with more government regulations and extra taxes. Hard work and success are penalized. So is saving. So is job-producing capital investment. Borrowing and profligacy are encouraged. Washington wants everyone to follow its spendthrift example - and for a long time we did.

Most Americans have, however, now learned about the consequences of profligacy. They are turning toward virtues such as work and thrift - and toward getting good value for their money.

Washington, on the other hand, has not recanted, and it definitely has not gotten any smarter or more trustworthy.

Just as our long-suffering economy is showing some signs of life, raising hopes that it may survive the most recent beating administered by Washington, President Obama and his handmaidens in Congress are rushing to nip this nascent recovery in the bud.

They are preparing to devastate the economy with more taxes and historically high debt-to-GDP ratios (including unprecedentedly high levels of net foreign debt). They are tightening Washington's chokehold on the manufacturing sector (12% of GDP) and the financial sector (another 8%).

They are also trying to take over the energy sector (6% of GDP) with a Rube Goldberg scheme called cap-and-trade - and to take over health care (another 16%), starting with a phony "insurance" scheme.

The Big Lie

The Obama-Biden administration is apparently guided by a Wikipedia definition of the notorious Big Lie technique: "If you tell a lie that's big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you're saying is total crap."

The battle is for America's future. On one side are the flim-flam artists in Washington. On the other are the people of America who are rapidly catching on to the scam.

After having been gulled for most of the 20th century into thinking that government is a benign instrument for good, Americans are now relearning the lessons the Founders knew so well: Government is a constant threat to liberty and property that must be kept as small as possible, used only for limited purposes and disciplined frequently.

Christian, an attorney, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Ford administration. Robbins, an economist, served at the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration.

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