The deja vu of National Debt       

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., April 21, 2011 – Is anyone out there frustrated with our elected officials’ inability to address the issue of our National Debt in a cogent way?  Perhaps the President and our Congressional leaders haven’t had time to read their copies of The National Platform of Common Sense.  They’ve been too busy pandering to their constituencies.  At the risk of saying, “I told you so,” I offer the following excerpts from a relevant section of my book:

“If we have it, we will spend it.”  That seems to be the mantra of our Legislative Branch of government.  As a corollary, we can add the Democratic dogma:  “If we don’t have it, we will spend it anyway.”  In the past, the power to tax has been the secret weapon of both Parties.  Democrats use it to get votes by promising to only tax the rich to fund programs for everyone else.  Republi­cans use it to get votes by claiming that they will protect the public against pernicious taxation.  Here’s the reality:

“Republican candidates routinely promise that they’re not going to raise taxes … not on you as an individual or on businesses in general (one of their few reliable constituencies) … because taxes negatively impact the economy. “Read my lips … no new taxes.” It’s a clear and intentional misrepresentation. If cutting taxes stimulates the economy, why not eliminate all taxes? Oh, yeah … then we couldn’t pay for government salaries, perks, offices, boondoggle trips, etc.  Scratch that idea!  I guess some taxes are okay.  But the one thing about Republicans is that they can do the math.  If they can’t pay their debts, they’ll raise your taxes regardless of what they’ve promised.  They’ll just do it under the guise of necessity.

“The Democrats are far more forthright on this issue. They’re going to raise your taxes under any circumstances because they’re sure they can create some kind of social program to spend the money … no matter how much is available.  Normally, this would turn off a lot of people, but the Democrats always promise to only tax the rich.  Robin Hood would be so proud!  You see, the rich are really just like the Sheriff of Nottingham who, as we all know, wrongfully took money from the poor by abusing his power … kind of like Congress does.

“And when the Democrats promise to only tax the rich … well, that’s “Change We Can Believe In.”  For example:  when President Obama raised the cigarette tax 62 cents per pack just about a month after taking office, I was all for it.  You see, I don’t smoke … and even if I did … I’m not rich!  I’m feeling to­tally Democratic about this one.  Apparently, only the rich smoke.  Either that … or the President was just “blowing smoke” when he promised not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250 thousand a year.  But who could ac­cuse him of that when he sets an appropriate example for the rest of us by smoking and earning more than $250 thousand a year? That’s stepping up to the plate!

“Correspondingly, when President Obama was running against President Bush (let’s face it, he might as well have been since that was the entire basis of his campaign), he excoriated the former President for presiding over a $2.5 trillion expansion of our national debt (which, by the way, President Obama voted for when he was in the Senate).  Then, as soon as he took office, he es­sentially doubled that level of expansion.  With this level of spending, Presi­dent Obama will be hard-pressed to keep his campaign promise to only increase taxes on the richest 5 percent of our population while reducing taxes for everyone else … unless there is an expansion of the money supply.  Our inability as voters to recognize the mathematical certainty of this demonstrates why so few contestants ever win on the game show Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?  As a result, you can expect the government to increase the money supply to close the gap.

“Now, since our currency isn’t really backed by anything (we went off the gold standard back in 1975), expanding the cash supply really doesn’t hurt us in any way … unless you consider the impact of inflation.  You see, if the government prints a lot of money to pay for all of the new social programs and agencies that it’s putting in place, the law of supply and demand suggests that, as the monetary supply grows, the dollar will be devalued.  So, something that costs a dollar today will cost more than a dollar tomorrow if everything adjusts to stay the same (i.e., to maintain the dynamic equilibrium of the economy).  Luckily, this will only impact the richest 5 percent of our population since President Obama promised that only they would suffer a tax increase.

“Now, why do I say that?  Well, taxes are just a method of paying for government programs.  If the money supply has to be manipulated to pay for government programs, isn’t the resultant inflation, in effect, a tax?  I can’t wait to see how President Obama makes sure that only the food, drink, housing, clothing, etc. of the rich get adjusted for inflation.  Otherwise, he will have broken his promise to 95 percent of Americans who thought they were getting the deal of the century!  I can see it now:  I’ll be going through a checkout line, and the clerk will ask me to produce some sort of National Identification card that will let him or her know that I’m not one of the top 5 percent.  Bingo!  I’ll either get a discount, or I’ll get to avoid paying a premium since we’ve been promised that all these new programs will only impact the pocketbooks of the rich.  Either way, it’s good to know that most of us will be insulated against the effect of runaway inflation.”

(The National Platform of Common Sense continues …)

“The best way to destroy the “Field of Dreams” mentality that is so preva­lent in Washington, D.C. is to restrict Congress’ cash flow … as was intended by the Framers when they spelled out the limitations relative to the Legislative Branch’s “Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Ex­cises” in Article I, Section 8. So, this Platform requires Congress to follow the Constitution as it was written.

(At this point, The National Platform of Common Sense draws upon a myriad of solutions that are discussed in detail in its previous sections and then continues …)

“This Platform also calls for the introduction of an indexed budget for Congress; whether it be indexed to the Gross Do­mestic Product (GDP), the number of citizens in the United States, or some other blended formula that relates to the size of our economy and our population base.  As our country ex­pands or contracts in both terms of its economy and popula­tion, so should the government’s budget in proportion thereto.  Other than in times of an unexpected national emergency (e.g., a war, legitimate pandemic, terrorist attack, etc.), there would be no other way to infuse the government with money (other than by utilizing past budgetary surpluses); no additional taxa­tion, no printing of money … nothing!  The country’s overdraft protection could begin with a proportionate reduction in the wages of the Federal government.  Since they’re in control of their spending on our dime, they should feel the pinch first.  This marks the end of La Dolce Vita.”

“Let’s determine what would be a reasonable indexed operating budget for the government and work backward from there to calculate the correct percentage to apply to everyone … equally.  If you don’t have any income of any kind, you don’t pay any taxes.  Otherwise, we’ll all have the same skin in the game.

“Let’s simplify the process while we’re at it.  First, let’s eliminate all of the deductions (both business and personal).  That will streamline the calculation.  And don’t worry about what will happen when you lose the deductions that you’ve grown to view as an entitlement.  In all actuality, they’re merely tools by which politicians manipulate us.  Remem­ber:  we’re working backward when we do the math, so the infusion of tax dollars from the elimination of deductions will help reach the budgetary objective sooner and, in turn, will reduce the overall percentage that you’ll be charged.
“The elimination of deductions should help in a variety of ways. Individual and business decisions will become more legitimately based.  Charity may even return to the heart rather than emanate from the tax return.  Millions of trees will be saved.  How, you ask?  Well, if Congress doesn’t spend a lot of time adding thousands of pages to each bill it drafts to account for the special interests it panders to through tax deductions and credits, millions of trees will be saved.  This could be the environmental solution of our lifetime.  Mem­bers of the Green Party … Unite!
“Similarly, if Congress is limited to a single way of generat­ing tax revenues, just think of how much time and money will be saved and how that time and money can be redi­rected to important issues … rather than on the negotiation of backroom deals and the distribution of pork.  IRS staffing can be reduced (and) the “business of the People” can be properly addressed …”

“Businesses will pay upon the distribution of both passive and active income.  They will reserve the appropriate percentage on any distributed income and pay that sum to the government according to a uniform schedule.  As a result, individuals will no longer have to file any kind of income tax form.  How terrific will that be?  (Sorry, H&R Block!)  To mitigate the chance of misconduct, the penalties for im­proper reporting will be swift and significant (including fines and imprisonment).
“…The beauty is that it’s clean, simple to administer, and treats everyone fairly.  Yes, there is a “price of admission” to be a citizen of the United States; no one gets a “free ride.”  As a collateral benefit, your vote can no longer be bought by political promises.  Wel­come back to the Republic!”

I’m the Common Sense Czar, and I approve of this message… and please don’t forget, “I told you so!”


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.

This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.