By Lucas Roebuck
The problem was already bad when President Barack Obama hit the scene. Now Obama's capriciousness, unchecked by a pliable Democrat-controlled Congress, has only served to exacerbate the problem of our national debt.
One of President Bush's greatest failures
was continuing the generational theft to prop up our outof-control borrowing and spending. Obama is taking Bush's spending to new heights of irresponsibility.
The national debt is currently $11.3 trillion - and rising at a historic rate thanks to our historic president. In 2008, we spent $412 billion dollars just on the interest. Paying on the interest dwarfed all other government spending except military ($650 billion) and Health and Human Services (welfare, Medicare, etc., $700 billion). As of May of this year, we have already spent $214 billion on interest. We're basically borrowing money to pay the interest on what we already owe!
This might not be so troubling if we had a plan to pay down the debt. But we don't. In fact, every year, the debt keeps growing and growing as we borrow more and more money to cover our out-of-control spending. Eventually, uncontrolled borrowing and spending will come crashing down on us, ruining our economy, our country and our way of life. Well before "global warming" puts Los Angeles and San Francisco underwater, the national debt will destroy America.
The people loaning the United States its money (mostly China) at some point will stop lending. If China ever wants to deal a crippling blow to the United States, it doesn't need to build up a massive military (which they are doing anyway). They just need to stop lending the federal government money.
Congress and the president need to address this problem now.
First, Congress must balance the budget. Congressmen and women who vote for budgets that are not balanced need to be thrown out. I would love to see the entire Arkansas delegation sign a pledge to vote for only balanced budgets. I favor a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, but absent that Herculean task, a grassroots effort to put fire to the feet of congressmen who support deficit spending could get the same job done.
Second, we must have a real plan to pay down this debt. Even if we balance the budget, we're still paying $400 billion to $500 billion a year in interest payments - and nothing on the principal of our debt. I propose we create a 1-cent national sales tax, the proceeds from which can only be used to pay down the principal on the national debt. Congress would be restricted from using the revenue for anything else - even paying interest - and could enforce this by constitutional amendment.
Many conservatives rightfully are opposed to any raising of taxes, simply because of the fiscal irresponsibility of Republicans and the fiscal suicide of the Democrats. However, the damage has been done, and as Americans we have a responsibility to ease the burden of debt we are imposing on our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Also, raising a tax to pay down debt is the most fiscally responsible tax possible.
Flat taxers (whose ideas I am sympathetic to) think they could fund the federal government with a 23-cent sales tax. Abstracting from 2008's $2.9 trillion budget and assuming the flat taxers are somewhere in the ballpark of how much a national sales tax would raise, that would peg the revenue from a 1-cent sales tax in the vicinity of $100 billion annually.
Assuming that we would roll savings from eventually lower interest payments into paying down the principal and assuming some national economic growth, that would mean we could have the deficit paid off in 50 to 75 years - about how long it has taken us to dig the hole we are in.
Our budgetary policy is madness. We're broke. The eventual pain of our borrow-and-spend ways will only be greater the longer we ignore this problem.
In the future, I will never vote for a presidential or congressional candidate who won't pledge in writing to support a balanced budget and have an articulated plan to pay down the debt. If you care about what sort of country we are giving our children, I suggest you do the same.