Oregon Magazine

Four Score and Seven Words Ago
BHO:  “I’ll go further.  We would not be a great country without those commitments.”

May 1, 2011 -- Those words, telepromptered by President Obama near the beginning of his budget speech April 13, tell us where he, or his speechwriters, are coming from.  The “commitments” he specifically referred to were Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, & unemployment insurance.  And so, repeat in your mind his assertion:  we would not be a great country without those commitments.  

Weren’t we a great country when George Washington, John Adams or Thomas Jefferson were president?  How about when Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, or Abraham Lincoln were in the White House? 

We were great then because the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution were valued and enforced by those leaders, not because we had or didn’t have certain entitlement programs.  We won’t ever be great because of “commitment” programs created by this or any congress or president.  The only commitment our country ever needs is to protect and preserve the Constitution of the United States, which is why that phrase has been a required pledge for every president of this nation.  Our current president cheapens the very promise he swore to uphold by substituting in its place things of insignificant value.    

They're also called "entitlements"

The word didn’t become part of the vernacular until the 70’s and 80’s, even though most of the above programs had been in existence for decades.  And the reason is this:  when each of those “commitments” were established, all with the best of intentions, the goal was modest in every respect, and funding them was predicated on rational, limited usage.  They were never intended to become the gargantuan money holes that exist today.  This didn’t happen overnight.  Each “commitment” slowly grew because of successive, well-meaning, ignorant congressmen and women who added new benefits and recipients every session they attended, thinking their tiny legislative contribution was just a minor addition to help some needy group of constituents.  In the process they gradually convinced the able to believe they were part of the needy.  And a created, needy class morphed into the entitled.  By the way, Congress’s benevolence also quietly included providing free police protection to a Western world that should have been charged.

Empowered to spend other people’s money, Congress gave away the store to the point where the store--our nation, once free and clear--has a mortgage owned by the world.  It has literally handed over to strangers the keys to our livelihood, our freedom, and our country, in the name of benevolence.  They gradually adopted a mantra:  revenues should never be a limit to writing checks to their targeted needy.

The planet's greatest redistributionist

Nancy Pelosi, as the 52nd Speaker of the House (where all federal spending is authorized), produced a spending spree unknown to any nation in history.  She and her congressional relatives in the Senate, in four short years, overspent in deficit more than the COMBINED deficits of the first 49 Speakers since the nation was founded (including expenditures for every war we ever fought).  The vast majority of her deficits went for the “commitments” that our esteemed president says are what makes this nation great.  The amount of overspending was $5.8 Trillion.  Bernie Madoff is in jail for life for only a few billion dollars of identical activity.  (He needs a room mate, but I think he’d hang himself before allowing her to enter.) 

We are not a great nation if we become broke, because a financially broke nation cannot guarantee the rights contained in our precious Constitution..  But the liberal powers in Washington DC, like addicts everywhere, are unwilling to admit their addiction to spending.  The House changed hands in November, and some conservative Republicans are attempting to correct fifty years of fiscal negligence, and four years of fiscal insanity, but their serious, detailed proposal was mocked by our president in a grand effort to describe their hard work as class warfare.

We desperately need a leader, a president, who does not measure greatness by how much we can shell out to recipients, but by how much we value their freedom to succeed.  Teleprompter words will never produce the greatness of a crumpled, hand-written note, authored and read by Abraham LIncoln, who uttered from his heart, “… this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
                             -- AH

© 2011 Art Hyland