We spent a good bit of Saturday’s show focused on taxes. After a brief memorial from Eric for the man that was like a father to him growing us, Jason started us off by talking about an exchange a CNN reporter and Republican Congressman from Georgia had had earlier in the week. The reporter showed the Congressman a graph from the Wall Street Journal that indicated that, contrary to the view Georgian Representative, tax increases do not always harm the economy. The graph showed that during President Clinton’s term in office, he raised taxes and the economy boomed, even providing for a surplus in the yearly budget a number of years. The southern lawmaker tried to counter that raising taxes hurt job creation, but the CNN reporter countered with another graph that showed that President Clinton raised taxes and 22 million jobs were created, while President Bush cut taxes and 300 thousand jobs were created. Eric pointed out that the economy is a complex animal and that there were many factors in play under both presidents, including that President Clinton also succeeded in getting Congress to cut spending. Gene from Greenville felt we might be missing some aspects of this debate and was concerned that our figures were off, so he picked up his phone and we had a great discussion with him, ending by agreeing to disagree on some of the aspects of the topic. We look forward to more spirited and knowledgeable discussion with the listeners in the future.
The calls for an increase emphasis on state’s rights and the seeming constant demonizing of the federal government led us to look back at why our Founder’s created the Constitution and the strong central government that they did. We took a few minutes to highlight the failings of our first national government under the Articles of Confederation: failure to provide funds for those fighting for our independence during the war and a failure to pay war debts after the war, the inability of our central government to protect the country from the British and Spanish because the central government lacked the ability to compel the states to pay for an army or compel states to provide soldiers, and the list goes on. The Founding Fathers, after throwing off the yoke of the monarchy created a central governing system that was so weak and ineffective that it made our country a laughing stock in Europe and encouraged European nations to expect our downfall. The Articles of Confederation only succeeded, according to the Founding Fathers, in causing chaos and discord, even being a major reason that only a few years after our independence, actual fighting broke out in New England amongst our own citizens in the Shays Rebellion.
The Founding Fathers clearly stated that the central government must be strong and must have the ability to tax in order for American to succeed. They felt that fear of our elected members of the central government was foolish. George Washington said, “For Heaven’s sake, who are Congress? are they not the Creatures of the People, amenable to them for their Conduct and dependent from day to day on their breath? Where then can be the danger of giving them such Powers as are adequate to the great ends of Government and to all the general purposes of the Confederation . . . ?”
We used the Articles of Confederation and how the Founders felt about them as the backdrop for our discussion of the debt ceiling. We were stunned by some of the things that the Founders said that resonate today. Robert Morris;s words are fitting to today’s debate as sure as they were to 1776′s, “Our Debts being unfunded and unprovided for, the Interest cannot be paid. Those therefore who trusted us in the Hour of Distress are defrauded. To expect that under such Circumstances others will confide in the Government would be Folly, and to expect that Foreigners will Trust a Government which has no Credit with its own Citizens must be madness. The whole Weight therefore of the War must be borne in the present Moment. . . .” It’s pretty cleat that paying our bills was important to our Founders.
George Washington summed up best how we should be looking at the federal government and those who we elect. “My political creed therefore is to be wise in the choice of Delegates — support them like Gentlemen while they are our representatives — give them competent powers for all federal purposes — support them in the due exercise thereof — & lastly, to compel them to close attendance in Congress during their delegation.10 These things under the present mode for & termination of elections, aided by annual instead of constant Sessions, would, or I am exceed-ingly mistaken, make us one of the most wealthy, happy, respectable & powerful Nations that ever inhabited the terrestrial Globe —”