We hear the term “national deficit” kicked around a lot in the media and by politicians. It is used to vilify one political party or the other, with accusations of out-of-control spending and refusals to make necessary spending cuts. But, the national deficit is not just a meaningless talking point or buzz word; it is real debt – money that our government did not have, but spent anyway. At the end of the 2016 fiscal year, America’s debt is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $19.3 trillion.
Why should American citizens care about the growing debt of our government? Well, let us take a look at what has been happening in Greece for the last few years. Due to the Greek government’s immense debt and spending (among other factors), that government was forced to default on its debt. In February of 2012, 20,000 Greeks had become homeless during the previous year. By 2015, 20% of Greeks could not afford food on a daily basis. In efforts to compensate, the Greek government has added five indirect taxes as of 2016, including a 23% value-added tax. By the way, a value-added tax is a tax on the increase in value of any particular thing during each stage of its production.
If you think that a version of the Greek Debt Crisis could not happen in this country, you would be wrong. The consequences of a sovereign defaulting on its debt are harsh and far-reaching, and an American default is becoming more of a reality as our debt continues to rise.
What we need is a balanced budget. The current budget process is lengthy, political, and ridiculous. There are budget requests, budget resolutions, appropriations bills, and all of the petty bickering to go along with them that you might expect from Capitol Hill. How can such a system actually function to result in a balanced budget? Clearly, it can not.
This is America’s dumbest problem. The government should not be spending more money than it takes in. Period.
The solution seems simple. Spending cuts must be made. The fact that I even have to include that sentence here should speak volumes about how broken the current system is. Think of this issue in terms of a business. If a business had a budget deficit, there would be immediate spending cuts. A business wants to remain viable, after all, but can only remain viable for so long while operating in the red.
So, you might expect that, since it is election season, the Republican and the Democratic presidential candidates are discussing how they would address America’s dumbest problem, and get our country out of the red, if elected. Well, you would be wrong.
Take their websites, for example. Hillary Clinton’s website has an Issues tab, which lists her “vision for America, and key policies she will fight for as president.” There are a total of 32 listed Issues, none of which addresses a plan to tackle the national debt. Donald Trump’s website also has an Issues tab, which contains 20 videos, each about 30 seconds or so, of Trump talking about how fantastic his plan is to tackle each issue (with no actual details included). One of these videos is titled “The Economy,” and in 26 seconds, Trump says that his tax plan will take care of the national debt. Yet, he says nothing of spending cuts. Trump’s website also has a Positions tab, which includes 7 topics, none of which are the national debt.
The outlook seems pretty bleak, until we take Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Presidential candidate, into account. According to his website, Johnson’s first major act as President will be to submit a “truly balanced” budget to Congress. “No excuses. No games. A REAL balanced budget,” he says. All to be done with no tax increases. Instead, “no line in the budget will be immune from scrutiny and reduction.” He also pledges to “veto any legislation that will result in deficit spending.” What Johnson is talking about here is a real analysis of our budget, with real spending cuts. This is what America needs in order to remain viable, in order to begin operating in the black.
Oh, by the way, he actually did this very thing in New Mexico while governor, and it worked.
It’s a common sense solution to a very dumb problem.
Carole-Anne can be reached for further comment via email firstname.lastname@example.org