As Republicans, and especially Democrats, put on a show of brinksmanship Friday, pretending to go "down to the wire" in a face-off to determine whether the federal budget would be slashed to a Draconian degree, the airwaves were full of instructive rhetoric.
In fact, not even Republicans were any longer holding out for a 1 percent cut, when spending reductions of 10 percent or more would be required to start paring down the debt and freeing up capital for private-sector expansion.
Representatives who believe there's no dream of the mendicant class that government is not required to service with ever greater fervor -- primarily congresswomen from welfare-heavy urban districts, though even our own Sen. Harry Reid got into the act -- brayed that even the minor nail-trimming now proposed would "kill women," would "throw women and children under the bus," was part of a long-term Republican "war on women," etc.
Sen. Reid seemed particularly concerned that -- should the federal government go through the hollow pantomime of closing down a few museums and national parks -- no woman in America would be able to figure out how to obtain "cancer screening."
Of course, this was all a carefully orchestrated show. It's doubtful many of the posturers believed half what they were saying. But the "services" singled out for the wailing and moaning were nonetheless instructive.
Turning to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution -- the powers of Congress -- do we find "The Congress shall have Power to fund the gynecological and other health care of the poor"? "To fund abortions for those who find it inconvenient to pay their own medical bills"? "To feed the elderly and the children of unmarried women"?
Is there truly no other source of funding for "cancer screening" in America but federal bureaucrats? Americans can't pay cash for these services?
The question is not whether cancer screening is good, but whether it's the responsibility of the central government.
In fact, we find none of these "services" listed under the things Congress is authorized to fund. Furthermore, every one of these moaning members swore an oath just three months ago to "protect and defend" a Constitution which states "The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People."
Meantime, did we hear any representative warn that a "government shutdown" might leave us without the federal courts, without the Navy and Marines? Without the services of the mint, the post office or the patent office?
Of these legitimate and authorized federal functions, not a word.