The Argument is about Government

By Bill Northrop


The Argument is about Government

By the time you read this, the so-called debt limit crisis may, or may not have passed. Politicians might resolve something about something, but it appears that, in reality, nothing is being resolved. So, just resolve it. G’itter done. Or maybe not.

  The debt limit isn’t the real problem anyway. We - the federal government - have already spent more money than we have on hand and we need a loan to pay the bills. It’s that simple. However, it’s also simple that we need to stop the spending. From a personal perspective, if you were in that financial state, your bank (or friend ) might give you a loan, but not unless you showed some indication that you would bring your spending under control.

  That’s the issue here. Republicans sought to use the debt limit to force spending cuts. Democrats aren’t buying it and if they do they want more taxes on the “millionaires and billionaires”. The problem is that those two categories refer to an individual making $200,000 or a family making $250,000. Not exactly the millionaires and billionaires we’re thinking about.

  As for taking away tax breaks for certain industries, that creates more of the same problems that helped create the situation. That is, a big, specialized tax code of thousands of pages that selectively taxes some and exempts others.

  And, as for the millionaires and billionaires we’re talking about, we could take all of their money and not bail ourselves out. Right now, 10 per cent of the highest earners pay 55 per cent of the tax bill while 47 per cent don’t pay anything.

  The point is that special breaks or special taxes don’t get us anywhere. We need structural changes whether we’re talking taxes or cuts in entitlement programs. That’s not done easily or lightly. Someone, or maybe everyone, gets dinged financially.

  Republicans are pushing for a balanced budget amendment. It won’t get done overnight even if everyone endorsed it. It requires ratification by three-fourths of the states. However, if it did pass it would force structural changes. Need money? Either cut or tax. Betting on what might be or what might happen gets less easy. Want a war? Tax for it or cut something to make way for it. Want to borrow money? Fine, provide the income to pay the principal and interest.

  So, just raising the debt limit isn’t the issue. We’re now at $14,000,000,000,000 (that’s trillion, so you don’t have to count the zeros) and are headed now to have enough debt to equal the total output of our society. We’re expected to exceed that proportion and maybe go to 125 per cent of GDP. Kind of like Greece and Italy. Doesn’t sound good, particularly since some people think our debt is really $100 trillion.

  How much money is $14 trillion? If you lived 76 years and doled out just over 500,000 one-thousand dollar bills a day throughout your life, you could pay off the debt we have today.

  We’ve been going down this road for a long time. Democrats all (including Obama who made a big deal of it then) opposed raising the limit in 2006. All Republicans supported it. I guess they were both wrong based on their positions now. The difference now is that we’re going down the road faster and faster and politicians are hoping to spend faster and faster with no limits.

  Get over this debt limit hump and everyone will think that nothing else has to be done - except maybe bankruptcy.

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