Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Federal Budget Deficits: Our Ticking Time Bomb

The seriousness of the ongoing saga of US federal budget deficits is the topic of two interesting recent articles.

First, this from The New York Times.

this from the BBC. My son, a seminary student with undergraduate degrees in History and Philosophy, linked to it over on Facebook. It elicited the following moderate, non-partisan rant from me.* (By the way, the Walker book to which I refer is Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility by David Walker.):

This is a good overview of the problem. I'm looking forward to reading the David Walker book.

Once unemployment comes down, it's going to be imperative that the deficits be addressed. But I'm not convinced that either party will do so. There are so many constituent groups--special interest groups, state, district, and regional groups--that want to eliminate pork and waste except when it impacts them, it makes eliminating the federal red ink tough.

Then, there are the sacred cows like Social Security and Medicare and the Defense Department, leaving little in actual "discretionary spending" to be cut.

The template for resolving these problems is an independent commission. It was done with Social Security back in the Reagan years, as I recall. It was also done with military base closings. Congress decides it can't deal with an issue because it neither has the will, the capacity to compromise, nor the willingness to give up on earmarks individual members want to bring back to their states or districts. So, it appoints a commission, outsourcing the appropriations function the Constitution gives it; all they have to do is vote up and down on recommendations.

But just last week, the Senate couldn't even agree to legislation authorizing a deficit reduction commission. Obama says he's going to appoint one by executive order. But it won't have any force of law.

It's a mess and both parties are to blame. Let's pray that God will give our leaders the wisdom they need. The stakes are enormous. These deficits mean that we're mortgaging the country's future to the Chinese government. Pols from both parties give lip service to doing something about it. But I don't see much substantive work happening.

Is anyone else as concerned as I am?

One other thing. Does anybody remember this? I personally think that Osama bin Laden takes entirely too much credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union. But when government spending reaches sustained high percentages of national GDP, it's not a good thing. Much of the war on terrorism has been financed by borrowing from the Chinese government, a regime which, because it is less than respectful of its own people, can hardly be expected to be forgiving of the US if we're unable to pay our bills.

Can't some of the river of red ink in Washington be attributed to our being terrified the terrorists?

Would any of our spending over the past eight-plus years have been significantly different if we weren't terrified?

How might we deal with terrorist threats and not spend ourselves into bankruptcy or slavery to the Chinese government?

*I'm certain that "a moderate, non-partisan rant" is not an oxymoronic phrase.

[This post is an example of JUMP, a category I created several years ago to designate pieces that are "just my opinion." This isn't Mark the Pastor writing, just Mark the Big Mouth.]

No comments: