bryanPretend for a minute that you have a friend who makes $50,000 a year and has $100,000 in credit card debt. They've just told you that this year they plan to put another $25,000 on their cards.

Archived Story

Bryan Clapper: Cut up the national credit card

Published 12:40am Saturday, February 6, 2010

Would you tell your friend to stop shopping and seek help?

Our national debt is $7.75 trillion, and President Barack Obama’s proposed federal budget is $3.8 trillion, with only two-thirds of that spending covered by taxes. The other third will be put on our already overburdened national credit card.

Just making our current minimum payments – the interest on the federal debt – costs nearly $400 billion a year. That would be like $420 of the $4,200 in pre-tax salary your theoretical friend makes each month going to pay just the minimum payment on his credit card bills.

I hate to continually go back to talking about the idiocy of the federal government – I’d much rather write about local things in my column – but this is utter lunacy that our kids and grandchildren and generations after them will foot the bill for. With the way we’re headed, we’re either going to have to drastically raise taxes or drastically reduce government services once our credit line runs out. What will it do to the economy if in a single year individual tax rates jump 5, 10 or even 15 percent? Similarly, what will happen to our economy if tens of thousands of federal employees are laid off suddenly?

The best course of action would seem to be gradually reducing services to keep federal spending at current levels, but given the dramatic growth of the government under our last two presidents, even that would cause a shock to the economy.

We’re in dire financial straits, folks, and not enough people are mad about it.

I’m all for a constitutional amendment that at least scales back how much of federal spending we’re able to finance through public debt. I don’t think it would be wise to pass a so-called balanced budget amendment now that completely shuts off that source at once, but if we scale back 5 percent each year from the 30 percent the president’s budget would add to the public debt this year, we would end up with far more reasonable spending.

Yes, it would probably mean higher taxes initially. However, think of it this way: If you cut up all of your credit cards and could only spend the cash available to you, would you go out to dinner as often? Would you take that second family vacation of the year? Would you splurge on “retail therapy” just because you had a bad day? If we scale down the public debt option and taxpayers see their taxes rise every time their elected officials increase spending, might those same taxpayers take a harder look at what we’re actually spending?

Right now, most Americans aren’t all that concerned with earmarks, increases in defense spending and thousands of new federal jobs – in the same way that some people might think a new TV isn’t a huge purchase because it will only add a few dollars to the minimum monthly payments on their credit cards. But if every new federal dollar comes out of their paychecks, I’m assuming most Americans will say a $1.8 million water taxi service in Connecticut could be funded privately.

Is it a perfect system? No. Is it better than what we currently have? I dare say it couldn’t be any worse.

I’m not some raving Libertarian lunatic who says nothing should be funded by the federal government – my belief is that we need to take a harder look at what we’re spending taxpayers’ money on, and maybe a bill that gives us a balanced budget somewhere down the line will help us do that.

Bryan Clapper is publisher of Leader Publications. He can be reached at 687-7700 or at bryan.clapper@leaderpub. com.

By using this website’s user-contribution features, including comments, photo galleries, or any other feature, you agree to abide by the terms of use. Please read this agreement in its entirety because it contains useful information that will help you better understand the rules and general "good manners" that are expected when contributing content to this website.

  • Username75

    your solution would work, UNTIL……..
    We face a Natural …National Emergency,
    like a War, and or Wars.
    For Years of Politicians playing with the Money Supply,
    and shrinking the Tax base We Are where We are.
    The G.O.P. decry redistribution of Wealth, while they
    are the party of redistribution of Wealth.
    They cry free Markets when they exert controls on the Market.
    You like most have been fooled by the Manipulators of the markets
    and the Marketplace to Control Inflation, not understanding just what Inflation really is
    thinking it is a disease, not a symptom, and or market Indicator.
    You have killed the symptoms so long, you have almost killed the Economy.
    Thinking the Dollar is of fixed Value, instead of growing Your Economy for all
    you grew it for the few, and Your selfishness was that destroyed all great
    world Powers, the Disregard of all its own for the regard of the Few, The Proud
    and the selfish.

  • Username75

    No Mike, I wouldn’t reply an Insult to Me, from Your
    Manifest destiny, survival of the Fittest, states Rights,
    libertarian silliness, until You really Understand,
    the big Picture of what it has wrought upon
    most Americans

  • NilesNative96

    “Raving Libertarian lunatic” Not a cool phrase.

  • http://www.nilesstar.com BryanClapper

    NilesNative96 – Just to clarify: Not all Libertarians are lunatics, just as not all lunatics are Libertarians. But some Libertarians ARE raving lunatics who think government shouldn’t fund anything. I happen to be an independent libertarian/conservative who believes the force of government is best used sparingly.

  • Username75

    the Major problem of our economy is the Parity
    of the highest, and lowest pay, that has been shrinking
    since 1970.
    in 1970 a $24,000.00 pay would be worth over $175,000.00
    in todays dollars.
    but wages for most have not kept up with the cost of Living.
    Today most workers actually contribute the wear and tear of their
    transportation, Health, Clothes to their employers just to keep
    their jobs, with reduced to no benefits, and a few dollars from
    poverty wages.
    at interest rates that in the 1970′s would have been considered Usuary.

  • Username75

    your tax base bears the burden of Taxes, so it behooves You
    to icrease the standards of living, not shrink them, IF You seek to lower Taxes.
    as if not You decrease those whom can afford to bear the burden of those taxes.
    which the G.O.P economic Ideas have done subtily since the 1970′s

  • Username75

    the most foolish idea of the libertarian/conservative is
    doing away with the fedral reserve system.
    thats great just let the Banks, and or the states
    issue their own money.
    thats what we did once, and had to create
    the Fedral reserve System.
    we have no J.P.Morgan to bail us out
    anymore, even Bill Gates doesn’t make
    that kind of Money.
    the results were bad enough when We stopped issuing
    silver certificates for paper money backed by
    Faith, & Credit.
    and the Faithfull creditors made out like bandits,
    even Willy sutton would be proud.

Editor's Picks