Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

February 22, 1999

The Big Lie
Budget surplus is a fiction

By simple repetition, a lie can become accepted as truth. It is a function of human nature that if enough people hear something often enough, reality takes a back seat to the lie.
"The Budget Surplus." For months "it" has been the mantra of everyone in Washington, DC. "The Budget Surplus." Everyone from the President to the Speaker of the House to TV pundits has spoken about "it" in glowingly terms. "The Budget Surplus." And there has certainly been no shortage of ideas in how to spend "it."
Too bad the "surplus" is a fairy tale.
The budget surplus is a shameful sham; it is the product of the wishful thinking and convoluted pseudo-math that is the federal budget process. There is no budget surplus. In fact, not only is there no surplus, but the national debt is actually continuing to increase. It will be increasing this year, and next year, and the next year, and on.
The "surplus" claim is derived, at its most basic level, from the fact that there are technically more "revenues" coming into the federal government coffers than expenditures. That "fact," however, overlooks several important factors. Most pressing of those is that there is no actual money in the federal trust funds. Those funds -- Social Security, highway, airport, etc. -- have been (and continue to be) robbed by the politicians and replaced with government IOUs. The money from the funds has gone to pay for liberal social programs and foreign military adventurism. The "surplus" difference between the revenues and expenditures includes the continued theft from the trust funds.
The debt will increase unless serious changes are made; changes that have nothing to do with creating more government programs and further political shenanigans.
A real solution to our budget malaise is putting the federal government on a diet. It's time for the unconstitutional programs of the past to simply go away; the Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the pointless, deadly, expensive foreign wars.
The time has also come for honesty in accounting. The government taxes every American at 15 percent for Social Security, using the fiction that the cash is waiting in a trust fund for retirement to placate us. We must restore the integrity of the trust funds by stopping the politicians from being able to take the money in the first place. I have introduced the Social Security Preservation Act, HR 219, to do just that.
If these trust funds are to exist, then they must be held securely, their integrity ensured by law.
To the extent that the politicians are able to rob from the trust funds is the extent to which they are going to continue to lie about state of our government's fiscal soundness, and continue the reckless spending that has been the hallmark of the 20th Century.
Integrity is a critical-need in our government; integrity for our trust funds and integrity in budgeting. But most importantly, we need to find integrity in our leaders. For men and women and principle will not lie, cheat and steal.
For too long Washington politicians have been stealing from the trust funds, cheating the budget process, and propagating lies to cover their tracks. Integrity is truly a critical need.