Why’s Washington Spending So Much Money? Blame a Faulty Understanding of ‘Rights’

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The Founders believed rights entailed restrictions on government power. The dominant progressive view imagines rights as granted by government.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE H aving dawdled all year, Congress in December is facing yet again a funding deadline to keep the government open, plus a deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit. Failing on the latter, the government could run out of money to meet its obligations as soon as December 15, Treasury secretary Janet Yellen has reported. Not since 2001 has Congress balanced the federal budget — and it’s getting worse. Our children and grandchildren stare today at a federal debt approaching $30 trillion, even as major entitlement trust funds will be depleted in little more than a decade.

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Roger Pilon, founding director emeritus of the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, holds Cato’s B. Kenneth Simon Chair in Constitutional Studies.

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