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Assault on America, Day 131: R’s & D’s aren’t just mortgaging the future, they’re ruining it

Foreclosure
Anyone who’s ever applied for a mortgage knows it’s hard to borrow money. Or at least it’s arduous if you don’t already have a ton of assets, regular (and large) income, a lengthy and documentable credit history, and last but not least, the patience of Job.

If you’re fortunate to have all these components then walk into any bank and they’ll practically pave the floor with sweet smelling rose petals to get you to sit down and talk business with them.

But not where the federal government’s concerned. It’s old news by now but Uncle Sam is in big-time debt, an astonishing condition considering the United States hasn’t been forced through circumstances (wars, etc.) to engage in mass borrowing to cover its immediate bills. The accumulating debt pile has been mounting for decades, with a steady acceleration starting during the Obama administration and sustaining through the first half of President Donald Trump’s initial term.

Anyone care about spending any longer? Doesn’t it matter that we’re “mortgaging” our children’s future? Nicholas Ballasy reported at PJ Media last week, “As the deficit approaches $900 billion, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told PJM that ‘deficit hawks have become an endangered species’ in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

“Gaetz, a member of the House Budget Committee, was asked if he thinks Congress should begin to reduce spending, given the rising deficit. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion by 2022.

“’Sadly, deficit hawks have become an endangered species in both parties and right now we are sucking more than a trillion dollars every year out of the private sector and using it to fund the largesse of government. But, unfortunately, with Democrats in control the House of Representatives today, the question isn’t whether we’ll cut spending, it’s by how much will we increase the deficit and increase spending and increase the burden on the next generation,’ Gaetz said during an interview at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.”

Ballasy further reported Gaetz suggested deficit control was once an issue both parties agreed upon, but no longer. With divided hyper-partisan government there’s precious little incentive for either side to lay off the appropriations accelerator, and Gaetz is right -- shamefully the so-called “deficit hawk” is rarely recognized in the hallowed halls of Congress these days. Maybe capitol tour guides should be instructed to make special notation if one is spotted, not unlike pointing to the famed but reclusive bald eagle on a trip around an amusement park wildlife sanctuary.

Unlike with a traditional mortgage, however, us taxpayers don’t accumulate equity (or receive tax considerations) with each instance of government disbursements. When the government cuts a check, it pays a current obligation with little or no future benefit. If the money funds a welfare program, for example, no one recoups the cost down the road. It’s just added to the bottom line and inflates the total, kind of like stacking bodies in a civil war battlefield morgue (and almost as gruesome).

What’s even stranger is the current debt explosion is taking place under relative peace and prosperity in our country. With tax rates reduced under the Trump tax cuts the American economy’s expanding at greater than 3 percent annual pace, which is a pretty healthy rate of growth. At the same time, tax receipts were down slightly from the previous year’s level (for 2018) but not markedly. The economy continues to churn out tax revenues but they can’t keep pace with outlays.

There’s no way around it -- Congress spends like a drunken sailor on holiday, only the inebriated federal seafarer in bureaucratic clothing brandishes a credit card with no limit and doesn’t possess the wherewithal to say “no” when the bartender asks if he’d like another shot. The guy won’t remember it in the morning, but by the end of the session he’s run up an impressive tab.

Where are the responsible caretakers of the future? The dictionary defines “Deficit hawk” as, “a political slang term in the English-speaking world for people who place great emphasis on keeping government budgets under control. 'Hawk' can be used to describe someone calling for harsh or pain-inducing measures (alluding to the predatory nature of hawks in the natural world) in many political contexts; in the specific context of deficit reduction, the term is more commonly applied to those advocating for cuts in government spending than to those supporting increases in taxes.”

It used to be Democrat deficit hawks insisted on higher taxes to cover their big spending demands but Obama’s two terms broke the mold (mostly because a GOP Congress wouldn’t pass them). Meanwhile, conservative Republicans justified seeking lower tax rates by simultaneously arguing for lower spending levels. Time after time budget negotiations came down to both parties’ leaders agreeing to hike spending while keeping tax rates the same. Establishment GOP honchos hailed the compromises as a “victory” and Democrats groaned and moaned about Republicans “cutting spending” while maintaining tax favors for the uber-rich.

Democrats aren’t pretending to care about deficits any longer. Bernie Sanders -- and the others -- regularly savages President Trump and Republicans for “cutting” the monster entitlement programs when GOP proposals merely reduce the rate of increase. To Democrats, even insinuating that spending should level off in the future is wielded as a political flute to woo ignorant and entitled voters like the Pied Piper of Hamelin leading the rats out of town.

President Trump is no “deficit hawk” either, having removed the federal entitlement programs from the budgetary negotiating table before he even won the presidency. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid dominate the annual federal budget and meaningful reform is nowhere in sight. The parties now wrestle over the ever-shrinking “discretionary spending” pie with each side lacking the will to give up the pork they dangle to bribe voters to favor them.

As is well established by now, 2020 Democrats are offering even more large federal spending programs such as Medicare-for-all, universal student loans and the virtually bottomless Green New Deal boondoggle. If they’re successful, the “deficit hawk” won’t just be endangered -- it’ll go extinct.

Red numbers jeopardize all of Trump’s plans as well. Naomi Jagoda and Niv Ellis reported at The Hill, “President Trump and Democrats are in a crunch as they try to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure package amid rising concerns in some quarters about the deficit and national debt. While many support the concept of an infrastructure push, members of Congress and outside groups are worried about how to pay for such a massive haul with national debt topping $22 trillion...

“Even before infrastructure is considered, the country’s debt burden will reach 105 percent of gross domestic product by 2029 if current tax and spending policies are left in place, just a point below the record debt level at the end of World War II, according to a Thursday report from the Congressional Budget Office.

“Budget watchers say that the debt path is unsustainable and will eat into the country’s economic well-being if it is not addressed.”

The “budget watchers” are right. History provides numerous examples of how uncontrolled spending ruins a country. On a recent visit to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, for instance, the gentleman who plays the Marquis de Lafayette described in detail how a perpetual state of warfare and borrowing directly led to the French Revolution and the beheading of France’s king and queen (Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette). Here in America no politician is likely to lose his noggin over the ballooning national debt, but what will it take to get things under control?

As indicated above, a private party needs an impressive asset and credit record to qualify for a mortgage. But the government’s assets and standing are dwindling by the hour and yet Uncle Sam qualifies for instant credit -- why the double standard?

Things won’t improve until there’s the political will to bring government spending under control. It’ll require a complete change in attitudes among the citizenry, too -- and a good sales job by our elected leaders. Something’s gotta give. Mortgaging the future is a reality…but there won’t be a house left to give the children.

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