Local view: How should U.S. respond to deep debt?Only cure is to remove big-spending politicians
By: Bob Hansen and Russ Stewart, Associated Press
Pork-barrel spending has been a favorite of career politicians for decades, leading to the re-election of incumbents more than
90 percent of the time.
Sometimes called “earmarks,” pork-barrel spending is the appropriation of government money for local projects that lack national significance; it’s the securing of project spending solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.
More troubling than pork-barrel spending are career politicians of both political parties who continue to ignore the approaching tsunami of government debt and unfunded commitments. While the tidal wave approaches, elected officials spend like tomorrow will never come. In addition to pork, we now have the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, and stimulus spending. In the past two years we have witnessed the largest transfer of wealth in the world’s history. Public money has been used to shore up corporate banks, insurance companies and auto manufacturers.
The economic reality is that our country is projected to overspend its budget by a staggering $1.5 trillion dollars this year, bringing our national debt to $13.5 trillion.
We the people are currently incurring $3.8 billion per day of additional debt, of which foreign countries hold $4.2 trillion. Our children and grandchildren will be burdened for decades to come.
Bloated entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare dwarf the national debt. According to USDebtClock.org, these programs add up to $110 trillion in unfunded liabilities. These entitlement programs are on a course to overwhelm the entire federal budget.
Meanwhile, our career policymakers talk endlessly but seem to do nothing. Solutions are difficult, but the endgame will be even more drastic and painful if our elected officials continue to ignore the problem.
For many, the American Dream ended while the political establishment, Democrats and Republicans, continued their blame game. Given our current state of affairs, some would argue we are on the road to serfdom.
But we do still have some options.
We can ignore party labels and can stop listening to what the rhetorical, scripted, career politicians say.
We can research and educate ourselves on what they have done and remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s most powerful words when he admonished us to judge people by the content of their characters.
We can talk with our families and friends and unite to stop re-electing people in either political party who have put us in this catastrophic situation.
We can reach out to people who have given up on voting and ask them to take a stand.
We can remember that laws are passed in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Term limits are not an option, but voters do have the next best thing: They can vote out incumbent politicians who fail to be fiscally responsible by supporting deficits, TARP, stimulus and bloated entitlement programs.
We can vote for new leaders who will support desperately needed, balanced-budget legislation.
We can educate ourselves by reading books such as Friedrich von Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom,” one of the most prescient books on the history of liberty. For anyone who wants to understand the intersection of economics and politics, this book is a must-read classic.
If nothing is done to address our growing fiscal crisis, the endgame will not be pretty. We must stop falling for the old political norm of “bringing home the bacon.” Remember the bacon has kept the good-ol’-boy, career politicians in D.C. and in power for too long. There, they serve special interests and cannot be trusted to fix the enormous debt crisis facing America.
It is time to restore fiscal sanity by adhering to the wisdom of Mark Twain, who said, “Politicians are like diapers; they need to be changed often and for the same reason.”
Bob Hansen and Russ Stewart, both of Duluth, are members of the Northern Liberty Alliance (northernliberty alliance.org), the sponsor of an annual April 15 (Tax Day) Tea Party at Bayfront Festival Park. Hansen also is a citizen representative on the News Tribune editorial board.