Behold Our Elected Hypocrite

Southern playwright Tennessee Williams left us with this observation:

The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that's also a hypocrite.

It is universally accepted that hypocrites are a special kind of liar, deserving of a special kind of contempt.  With this in mind, read the following:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It's a sign that the US Government can't pay its own bills. It's a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies.  Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that "the buck stops here." Instead, Washington today is shifting the burden of bad choices onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Now, one might be inclined to think this quote might be the recent utterance of a Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, or some other extremist conservative.  But actually, these are the words of Barack Obama in 2006, criticizing the Bush administration for increasing America's debt and raising the debt limit in response.

After almost 5 years under Barack Obama's leadership, perpetually raising America's debt limit has become a foregone conclusion and a matter of economic survival.  To suggest that we do anything otherwise is now a radical proposition.  That is to say, if I were to offer the Obama administration the exact criticism that Obama offered the Bush administration, I'd be called a radical for it today. 

This is about the point where the leftist will commit to a Pavlovian defense of the president -- something like, "Well, there wouldn't be such debt, and we wouldn't have to lift the debt ceiling, if those stupid Republicans would let him raise taxes on the rich!"

It seems we'll never be finished with this nonsense, but to address it briefly...

Taxes often do not yield revenue, because people don't like paying them if they feel them to be intolerable.  And Americans have always been really good at avoiding them, particularly those Americans with significant financial clout.  King George learned this lesson the hard way back in the 18th century, yet today's would-be monarchs refuse to glean it.  Trying to tax the American colonies actually yielded a net loss, not revenue, because American smugglers were so good at what they did that less product was channeled legally, and therefore, less product was taxed.  Not to mention the added cost of enforcement, which was ultimately futile.  Similarly, tax increases don't necessarily yield revenue in the coffers today, either, because as we've seen, American producers are only too eager to take their capital and operations -- with American jobs in tow -- to more favorable business environs. 

I don't expect that such economic realities would sway any die-hard advocates of expansive taxation, but suffice it to say, it wouldn't matter even if taxes did yield revenue.  Obama began his own spending binge long before he secured any significant tax increases.  In his own words, Obama admits that it is irresponsible and a sign of "leadership failure" to raise the debt limit in response to unmanageable fiscal policy and debt.  Irrespective of what kind of revenue legislation (read: tax hikes) he thinks he'll get in the future, it is irresponsible of this administration to spend trillions of future dollars, as yet unearned by our children and grandchildren, on social programs today. 

"Why is that irresponsible?  Stimulus, stimulus, stimulus!" cries the American left.

It is irresponsible because we do not have the money today, and we are spending well more than we earn.  It's a reality so simple that 2006 Barack Obama, who never held a job in the private sector or created one dime of wealth, outwardly proclaimed it to be unquestionable truth.  So what would he say today?  In 2006, he criticized Bush for nearly doubling the debt to ~$9 trillion.  What would 2006 Obama say to 2013 Obama, as our debt makes its way, at ludicrous speed, to pass that $17 trillion threshold?  Inversely, what would 2013 Obama say to 2006 Obama?  Would he call him a radical bent on holding Americans hostage for his hesitance to lift the debt ceiling?

My guess is that 2006 Obama and 2013 Obama, if they were to meet, would look at each other and smile.  One would offer his fist, and the other would reciprocate with daps.  Because, you see, he's a hypocrite.  Time and the fiscal metrics of his presidency have proven that. 

Of course, he was never against excessive spending as he claimed in 2006.  He was against Republicans spending excessively on things other than government-run health care, expansive food stamp distribution, subsidized contraceptives and abortions, government-subsidized "job stimulus," etc.  His comments in 2006 were skillful rhetoric meant to attract independent voters in a center-right nation. 

What he really believes, and likely always has, is that government is your lord, your benefactor, and the only means by which you can become great -- "the only thing we all belong to," as his party put it in a 2012 DNC video.  To think that greatness can stem from something other than the government brokerage house is sacrilege in his faith, because after all, you didn't build that.  And the taxpayer who tries to achieve greatness without placing a greater tribute in the offering plate only takes advantage of those who nourish themselves at the taxpayer-funded government trough...somehow.  Ultimately, he believes that it is the government's right to extract enough from you to fulfill his ambition, whatever the cost.  And if that means an ever-increasing debt, so be it.

A transformation of America, indeed.

Behold, America -- your elected hypocrite.  We bought wholesale the lies of a skillful liar of the most devious sort.  And we, our children, and our children's children are doomed to reap what we've sown.

William Sullivan blogs at and can be followed on Twitter.