Published Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:56 pm
Cal Thomas: ‘Just say no’ to more debt

The fiasco in Washington over the partial government shutdown, raising the debt ceiling and deepening animosity between Republicans and Democrats (and Republicans and Republicans) has left many asking if there is any way out of this bitter, endless cycle.

There may be.

The Financial Times recently suggested that America’s largest foreign creditor — China — might want to reduce the size of its loans financing our debt. China, which holds 8 percent, or $1.5 trillion, in U.S. Treasury securities, is mocking our inability to reduce debt.

The Washington Times reports that Chinese Commerce Minister Mei Xinyu called the shutdown and the congressional politicking over the debt limit “monkey business” that degrades the U.S. image worldwide. FRANCE 24 reports that a Chinese ratings agency recently downgraded its U.S. sovereign credit rating and warned that “fundamentals for a potential default remained unchanged.”

If a college student misspends money his parents give him, the parents would be foolish to send more money. They would be enabling bad choices. Isn’t it the same with America’s debt? Eight foreign nations besides China collectively lend hundreds of billions of dollars to the United States, enabling politicians to continue their irresponsible spending.

What if the next time President Barack Obama and Congress came knocking, these nations said, “No more”? Since a majority in Congress won’t stop themselves, foreign governments might assume the “parental” role. It’s like welfare reform, isn’t it?

In the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton signed welfare reform legislation, opponents claimed people would starve in the streets. They didn’t. Many found jobs. When people were told the gravy train wasn’t stopping at their station anymore, they adapted to new realities. Why can’t it be the same for a nation? Stop us before we borrow again!

When Sen. Obama ran for president in 2008, he decried the $4 trillion debt under President George W. Bush, calling it “unpatriotic.” President Obama has added at least $6 trillion (and counting) to the debt, so what does that make him?

Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who spent 12 years as a U.S. congressman, believes Washington is incapable of reforming itself and that solutions can be found on the state level. “The Republican agenda,” he explained to me, “must not be just reducing government spending but a permanent reduction in the size of the federal government and a restoration to the states of their constitutional responsibilities and privileges.”

Pence says the “American people are figuring this out” as they see states — especially those led by Republican governors — cut taxes, reduce spending and eliminate unnecessary agencies and programs. He calls for a “national leadership that understands the importance of energetic federalism and states that innovate.”

Rather than sending people to Washington in the vain hope the capital can be run like a state, Pence says Washington should look to states “where there is innovation in health care, education, balanced budgets and taxes” and follow their lead.

Pence recalls Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address in which he said, “All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.”

On a visit to Indianapolis on Feb. 9, 1982, Reagan defined the problem: “In recent years, power and tax dollars flowed to Washington like water down the Wabash. And yet things didn’t get better. We didn’t move closer to solutions; we moved farther away. Hoosiers, like citizens all over this country, began to realize that the steady stream of money and authority to Washington had something to do with the fact that things didn’t seem to work anymore. ... The federal government has taken too much tax money from the people, too much authority from the states and too much liberty with the Constitution.”

This is a philosophy to which Republicans might return. They could couple it with an appeal to our lenders to “just say ‘no’” the next time Washington asks them for more money.

Contact the writer: tmseditors@tribune.com

Regency neighborhood without power for 2 1/2 hours Sunday night
Driver seriously injured in crash into semi
Firefighters put out industrial oven fire
78th Street to close to through traffic
Primary battle between Battiato, Morrissey may be only race
UNMC appoints new dean for the college of dentistry
Jeff Corwin hopes to build connection with nature at Nebraska Science Festival
Metro transit recommends streetcar, rapid-transit bus line for Omaha
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
After decades looking in, Republican Dan Frei seeks chance to take action
Ben Sasse, Shane Osborn try to pin label of D.C. insider on each other
Curious about government salaries? Look no further
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
Omaha police investigate two nonfatal shootings
City Council to vote on adding Bluffs pedestrian safety lights
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Midlands runners ready for Boston Marathon
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Meridian Med Spa
50% Off Botox®, Botox® Bridal Party, Fillers and Peels
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »