Our country and all subsequent American generations are sitting on a massive time bomb that will ultimately explode and take the United States of America, as we know it, with it. This time bomb is our National Debt! For some reason, the “fiscally responsible” party, the Republicans, only seem concerned with the debt when a Democrat is in the White House or in control of part, or all of, Congress. When conservatives are in the minority, they raise holy hell about how the deficit is going to crush our country. And when they say that, I am in total agreement. However, they lose sight of the fact that the majority of the $21+ trillion is on them; the Republicans. Let me elaborate.
Despite the best efforts of our last president, and largely due to the horrible efforts of the current administration, our country is heading down a road we may never recover from. Our national debt is vast and steadily increasing, and there is little to nothing being done to address it. My generation, the Baby Boomers, have contributed to or own this deficit, as well as the growing wealth gap, and the unprecedented concentration of money in the hands of a few. Here’s how it got so bad:
The birth and acceptance of our country’s current economic approach can be traced back to the Reagan administration. In 1982, King Ronnie began promoting his “trickle down” theory, a type of laissez-faire capitalism, claiming that by reducing taxes on the upper class and businesses, they would stimulate investments in the short term, benefitting the entire country in the long term. It’s been over 35 years now, contributed to by George the Second, and now with the added debacle of the recent tax reform bill it should be safe to say, with authority, that this theory was not, is not, and will not be a winner… except for the ultra wealthy. People like me.
In an effort to correct this, President Clinton, despite all of his other flaws, had the presence of mind and the fiscal insight to enact laws and create conditions with, among other reasons, the purpose of reducing the deficit. Due to this, Clinton only increased the deficit by 32% during his 8 years in office. In fact, it was under Clinton that we experienced the only years of No Deficits since 1970. Under Reagan the deficit increased by 186%, while Bush The Younger saw a 54% increase.
While President Obama gets blamed for his contribution to the national debt (and justifiably so, because it did occur during his administration), he inherited an absolutely horrible economic mess from his Republican predecessor. Yet, he was castigated for 8 years for exploding the deficit although he only added a 74% increase to the budget, a large portion of which can be attributed to the 2009 stimulus package. True, he did not manage to tackle the deficit as he wished, but he was able to pass Wall Street reforms and make health insurance a reality for millions of Americans. At least this use of federal dollars resulted in positive outcomes for the masses, and not simply kickbacks to the Waltons and yachts for Trump and Co. And, when historically analyzing even this massive increase in the debt, President Obama was working with a Republican controlled Congress for the last six years of his administration. So once again, the Republicans have to take some of the blame for even the massive Obama deficit increases, right?
Regardless of whose party is more to blame, the fact remains that we’re still heading in the wrong direction. So why, of all implausible things for us to do as a country, did we cut taxes in December? This will absolutely increase the deficit even more. And rapidly! Projections are $150 billion per year… on top of the deficits that were already predicted! After finally emerging from the worst recession in over 80 years and committing to two seemingly unending wars, we are still adding to our debt instead of tackling it and reducing it. Am I crazy?? Doesn’t this matter? Doesn’t the fact the interest on our debt is our third largest line item in our budget matter???? Have we lost our collective mind???
Someday, sometime, this ugly creature that is our massive debt will come home to roost. It may be 10, 20, 50 years from now but it will. In my view, it is a weapon that we have given Wall Street, the Chinese and all other bond purchasers around the world the trigger to. One day, we will suffer a setback of some sort –economic, global, Wall Street, military, whatever– and the guys in NYC will hold their regular auction one morning to sell some of our treasury bonds to fund the continued debt and the buyers won’t show up. They will just be too scared to buy more. The crisis that will ensue will make 2008 look like a tea party, and all of us that are responsible for it will be in a retirement home or dead. We have been horrible stewards of our time and are leaving a magnificent mess for all who come behind us. Shame on us!
Right now, we are seeing a surge in youth involvement in politics. This couldn’t be happening at a more critical time, and good luck to them because the fate of our country depends on their generation fixing the mess that my generation created.