Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Responsible budget policy missing-in-action
in Washington, DC

Here are some important numbers to think about:
  • Through the years the US has amassed a national debt of $14 trillion ($14,000,000,000,000).
  • President George W. Bush increased the national debt by $4.2 trillion to $10.4 trillion over his eight years in office.
  • President Barack Obama has increased the debt by $3.5 trillion to $13.954 trillion in his two-plus years in office.
  • The debt now exceeds 90 percent of GDP; we owe nearly as much as we produce each year.
  • The U.S. now borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends.
  • Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid account for 43 percent of federal spending.
What our government is doing is similar to a person – call him Joe – who brings home $3,000 a month. That will take care of his needs, but it doesn’t buy all he wants, all of which totals $4,200 a month, so he borrows the rest from a credit line.

When you borrow money, you generally make monthly payments that cover the interest on the loan and some of the principal, but Joe only pays the interest. He borrows $1,200 each month and each year he adds $14,400 to his debt.

The lender put a limit on how much Joe can borrow based upon his financial circumstances. At some point he will have taken all the money available on his line of credit, and will have to make some hard choices, some lifestyle changes, start living within his means and start paying down his debt, unless he can convince the lender to raise his credit limit, which the lender likely wouldn’t do.

Here the comparison breaks down, because unlike Joe and the rest of us, the federal government can raise its own debt limit whenever it wants to borrow more money through an act of Congress, and has done so five times over the last several years. The spending-addicted Washington elite want to raise it again.

Where Joe is forced to begin living within his means and start paying down his debt, the federal government can theoretically just keep endlessly borrowing and avoiding fiscal responsibility.

Over the years the irresponsible, self-serving spenders have accumulated so much debt that every man, woman and child in America would have to pony up $45,000 to pay it off. Contrast that with the fact that the country produces only about $8,400 per person. Clear thinking people recognize that we have a debt crisis, but in the fantasy land that is Washington, DC, politicians think it is a signal to borrow more and spend more.

Our president, demonstrating the leadership qualities he developed in a few years of organizing communities and lecturing college students, leads the charge, proposing budget deficits exceeding $1 trillion in 2011, 2012 and beyond.

The dire circumstances the president and his cronies in DC are unable to comprehend, however, do not escape the understanding of a majority of Americans. An April Gallup poll reflects that two out of three Americans believe Social Security and Medicare costs are already creating a crisis for the federal government (34 percent) or will do so within 10 years (33 percent), while only 7 percent believe the cost of these programs will not create a crisis for the foreseeable future.

The spending-addicted ruling class believes we should just go merrily along spending, spending, spending, while they continue to selfishly put their political futures and big government ideology ahead of their duty to the country and its citizens.

Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has done what should be done and what previous House leaders have refused to do: put forth a plan to address the fiscal crisis. However, Congressional Democrats who apparently want to continue spending 40 percent more than the country collects in taxes annually responded not with a good faith effort to find responsible ways to reduce spending, but by clouding the issue. Their answer is to scare elderly Americans, who are the target of a commercial showing a man pushing an elderly lady in a wheel chair toward a cliff and then dumping her over. This ad is the most idiotic, the most dishonest, and the most perverse piece of political fraud trotted out so far in the young 2012 political season. Congratulations, Democrats!

Rep. Ryan’s budget plan would not take away Granny’s Medicare coverage, as this cheap-shot, deceptive ad suggests, and the Democrats know it. His plan does not affect anyone 55 years of age or older.

We can have a discussion about whether Mr. Ryan’s proposal is a better way forward or not, and we should have that discussion, but it appears Congressional Democrats are unable to offer sensible arguments, and instead prefer to maintain the status quo and demagogue the issue. They falsely claim ObamaCare will take care of the problem, or most of it, and say, “Not to worry. We’ve got ten years to work on a solution.” That is simply not acceptable at this point.

It is time the folks in Congress earn their pay, make the hard but responsible decisions they were sent there to make, and return fiscal stability to our country.

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