Michael Waldron: Our debtPublished 11:54pm Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The most important challenge facing the citizens of this city, this state and this country is our national debt. Sometime in late March, Congress must pass a resolution increasing the amount of the authorized public debt.
Unlike past increases in the authorized public debt, which were rather routine, this vote will be different. There is a realization slowly emerging in our consciousness that this country is broke. Therefore, a vote to raise the amount of authorized debt may come with strings attached. Those strings ought to include a procedure to stop the increase of total debt and a way to reduce it over time. We cannot abruptly freeze the level of the public debt, but we must change directions.
President Obama’s budget for FY 2012 did not deal with the debt. His budget would raise the debt to more than $25.7 trillion by 2020. (I was tempted to write 257 followed by 11 zeroes, but that would be overly dramatic.) President Obama passed on the opportunity to lead. Therefore, it falls to Republicans.
Republicans have passed a $61 billion reduction in this year’s $3.8 trillion budget in the House, which the Democrats have labeled “Draconian.”
Perhaps Democrats would care to explain why a 1.6 percent reduction in President Obama’s budget is Draconian. Remember that President Obama’s 2011 budget is pumped up by very large increases over the last two years. The only significant way to dent the national debt would be to reduce entitlements: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We will not solve our economic problems by tinkering on the edges or with more stimulus spending. In April, watch for the Republican budget for FY 2012. Republicans are promising action on entitlements. The shouting and hollering in Washington will reach decibel levels not achieved in years.
This country tried the stimulus method the past two years, and it didn’t work. Private industry will start investing if individuals know the government won’t suck up available funds for stimulus and other spending. At present, private investors wonder what the government will do next and how that will affect their profit margin. Uncertainty breeds caution, which dries up investment.
Our first task as citizens is to contact our elected officials to ask them to stop increasing our debt. As former congressman Dick Armey said, “Three groups spend other people’s money: children, thieves, politicians. All three need supervision.” If politicians ignore us, the next step is to vote for their opponent in 2012.
Our debt is the biggest challenge to our way of life since World War II. If we fail to deal with it, our standard of living will collapse. If we fail, our freedoms will wither because a large portion of our population will become destitute and therefore dependent. If we fail, our independence as a nation may crumble. Does anybody feel safe owing the Chinese and Japanese so much money? If we fail, our children and grandchildren will judge the present adult generation. They will not refer to us as the “greatest generation,” they will call us foolish and selfish.
They will judge us correctly.