Government Over-spending: Whose Fault?

September 7, 2010

Thomas Sowell’s latest column points out a fact that is often lost on people who, quite frankly, do not understand the structure of the U.S. government. That fact is that spending levels are almost always the fault of the Congress, not the president.

He notes this to debunk the popular myth that our spending woes are largely the fault of the previous administration:

The party line that we are likely to be hearing from now until the November elections is that Obama “inherited” the big federal budget deficits and that he has to “clean up the mess” left in the economy by the Republicans. This may convince those who want to be convinced, but it will not stand up under scrutiny. No President of the United States can create either a budget deficit or a budget surplus. All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and all taxes are voted into law by Congress.

Sowell goes on to note that Democrats controlled Congress before Obama was sworn in as president and Obama was a member of that Congress in that time period. He also points out that Republicans controlled the House of Representatives during the period in which former President Clinton was given credit for a budget surplus.

All of this is not to say that Republicans are guiltless — far from it. These simple facts do, however, put things into perspective — particularly in light of the constant harping from the current administration seeking to blame everything on their predecessors. The success of their attempts at blame is reliant upon the ignorance of voters to how our government functions.

“Empathy” IV

May 8, 2009

Part IV of Thomas Sowell’s series of columns on President Obama’s call for empathetic judges is now out. It notes how rhetoric has been used to cover up the courts ignoring the Consitution. Here’s how it leads off:

While President Barack Obama has, in one sense, tipped his hand by saying that he wants judges with “empathy” for certain groups, he has in a more fundamental sense concealed the real goal — getting judges who will ratify an ever-expanding scope of the power of the federal government and an ever-declining restraint by the Constitution of the United States.

“Empathy” III

May 7, 2009

In his third column dealing with President Obama’s desire for judges who show “empathy,” Thomas Sowell tackles what to do about a president with such a distorted view of what to seek in a potential jurist:

Replacing Supreme Court justices is something that can only be done one at a time and at unpredictable intervals. What this means is that Senators who do not have enough votes to stop an Obama nominee for the High Court from being confirmed nevertheless have an opportunity- and a duty– to alert the public to the dangers of what is being done.

“Empathy” II

May 6, 2009

Thomas Sowell has added a second installment to his column on empathy on the part of judges. In the sequel he details the attitude of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who saw the role of a judge this way:

“The criterion of constitutionality,” he said, “is not whether we believe the law to be for the public good.” That was for other people to decide. For judges, he said: “When we know what the source of the law has said it shall be, our authority is at an end.”

“Empathetic” Judges?

May 5, 2009

In his latest column, Thomas Sowell takes aim at Obama’s search for a new jurist who displays “empathy” to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Souter. Forget just being impartial and enforcing the law. Judges apparently now need to feel sorry for certain groups of people. Apparently “empathy” is the new code word used by liberals to describe activist judges. During the run-up to the confirmation hearings for Chief Justice Roberts I wrote a column for the Tampa Tribune on liberals seeking “mainstream” judges — apparently the code at the time.

A recent column for the Chicago Tribune highlights the justification used by liberals to promote judges who can empathize with people:

There is, after all, a profound civility in understanding how a teenager might feel deeply humiliated by being strip-searched at school or why a woman might feel she can’t complain to a male boss about being paid less than male co-workers.

The question for a judge should not be how the alleged victim felt in a given situation, but rather what the law states. It is, after all, their job to interpret the law, not make decisions based on feelings.

On a personal note, I can’t wait until the confirmation hearings. During the Roberts hearings I became a C-SPAN addict.

Sowell: “The Housing Boom and Bust”

April 29, 2009

Thomas Sowell’s latest book, “The Housing Boom and Bust,” is highlighted in his most recent column. The book and, in a less detailed manner, the column note how the crisis in the housing market (which was the spark that ignited our current encomic downturn) was caused chiefly by government in its desire to promote the “good” of home ownership despite financial realities.

For far too long, too many people have regarded home ownership as “a good thing.” It is certainly true that home ownership has its benefits. But, like everything else, it also has its costs and its risks. Weighing such trade-offs is something that each individual and each family can do for themselves. It is when such decisions are made by politicians– of whatever party– that trade-offs tend to vanish into thin air, replaced by pursuit of a “good thing.”

Politicians often cover their actions in appeals to the “common good,” despite how fuzzy a concept  that may be.