Farm Progress

And so we, as a nation, play Big Time Charlie, while the ship of fiscal solvency sinks ever lower in the sea of debt.

Hembree Brandon, Editorial director

October 8, 2018

2 Min Read
MJ0007/iStock/Getty Images

So, OK, this is what the people we’ve elected to represent us are doing on our behalf: spend, spend, spend.

For the first time in our nation’s history, more than half of U.S. senators and representatives are millionaires, and whether they be Democrat or Republican, collectively they’re spending your tax dollars and pushing up the national debt as if there were no tomorrow and the piper will never have to be paid. Consider:

• The U.S. is now nearly $21 trillion in debt. According to the Federal Debt Clock, that’s $65,837 per citizen and $176,393 per taxpayer. Those amounts increase every second of every day of the year.

•  The federal deficit for the first 11 months of fiscal 2018 was $895 billion, an increase of $222 billion (32 percent) over the same period in fiscal 2017. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the two main causes were the tax cuts and a bipartisan spending increase. Projections are that the fiscal deficit for 2018 will hit $1 trillion.Debt-cmannphoto-iStock-Getty_1.gif

• Interest on federal debt, the fastest-growing major government expense, is projected to hit $390 billion for FY2018, up nearly 50 percent from FY2017.

• Major government trust funds are rushing headlong toward insolvency, including Highway, Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security Old Age/Survivors Insurance, and Medicare Hospital Insurance.

• If the tax cuts are extended permanently, as some members of Congress are advocating, the CBO estimates that by 2027 federal debt will exceed the size of the entire U.S. economy, and double the size of the economy by 2048.

• By 2041, the CBO projects, spending on Social Security, health care, and interest will exceed all revenue, meaning that every dollar Congress appropriates, whatever the program, will be financed with borrowed money.

Is this any way to run a country? If your farm spending continued to exceed income year after year, and debts kept piling up, how long would it be before bankers would have the auctioneers selling you out?

But when we hear this or that candidate asking us to vote them into the nation’s highest offices, who tell us they will be fiscally prudent with our tax dollars, we just pretty much know it ain’t gonna happen — that it will be just more kicking the can down the road for our children, grandchildren, and heaven knows how many generations to try and deal with. They talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk.

When the aim of most politicians is, above all, to perpetuate themselves in office — many, for a lifetime — taking a hard line on dispensing of government largesse, saying no to this or that program, this or that project, is not the way to curry voter favor.

And so we play Big Time Charlie, while the ship of fiscal solvency sinks ever lower in the sea of debt.

What, us worry? Why, we’ll just leave it for someone else....

About the Author(s)

Hembree Brandon

Editorial director, Farm Press

Hembree Brandon, editorial director, grew up in Mississippi and worked in public relations and edited weekly newspapers before joining Farm Press in 1973. He has served in various editorial positions with the Farm Press publications, in addition to writing about political, legislative, environmental, and regulatory issues.

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