As the GOP candidates swing hard to the right to win over voters in the primary elections, they are totally avoiding the real issues of America – and for good reason! The problems are just too hard to solve in sound bites and stump speeches. Partisan issues of birth control, abortion, religion, gay marriage and elite media tactics are at the forefront of the discourse because they provide fodder to galvanize the base. Other topics such as the bad state of the economy (hard to make the argument at the moment), the rising price of gas (hard to do anything about) and a hawkish foreign policy (more reckless spending) still provide sources of red meat for the electorate so they are a staple of every interview, debate or speech. It’s just a way to attract and distract the voters.
But what about the national debt, budget deficits, and job creation. Where are the solutions to these problems?? No where! It’s as if they don’t even exist. Yes, lip service is paid to these issues, but no solutions are offered. Nor will they be offered any time soon (well, except for Ron Paul, but his solutions of $1T of spending cuts immediately and a sound money policy are not workable in the near term and he won’t win the nomination anyway).
Let’s start with the Debt. The biggest misconception is that Obama is running up the national debt like no other President in history. It’s heading towards $16 trillion and it’s his fault. But is he really responsible for that, or is something else going on here? Ever since Ronald Reagan (and even before him), every President has taken their turn to crank up the national debt. But Bush II deserves the real credit for breaking the bank, not Obama. In fact, the “Yes We Can” President has tried to cut some spending and increase taxes on the rich and some corporations with no luck due to the “No You Can’t” republicans in Congress. The budget deficit each year inherently leads to more debt. If you don’t fix that, then it will only get worse. Most of the Debt is held by the public, the social security trust fund and other trusts, government reserves, and foreign countries (China, Japan, Britain, etc.).
Consider the analogy of a typical household finances: Let’s say you have a house mortgage payment, a car payment, a number of utility bills and a security system bill every month. Add to that your federal, state and local taxes, as well as a minimum payment on your credit card bills. Assume that it adds up to 80% of your income. You must pay for all of these or else you will have no where to live, no way to get around, no electricity or gas, no credit cards, no safety in your home and the IRS at your door. They are loosely equivalent to the federal government’s budget for social security, medicare, medicaid, military spending and paying interest on the national debt. Now, with 20% left, you have to pay for food, clothing, gas, entertainment, repairs, etc. But, if the bills added up to $100K per year and your family income is only $75K per year, you will run up a debt of $25K per year which goes on the credit card. In the case of the US, the budget is $4 trillion and the revenue is $3 trillion, so guess what – the deficit is $1 trillion per year. It’s a structural deficit that directly adds to the debt — it’s built into the system unless you cut spending or increase revenue. There’s no other way to solve the problem!
But what do you cut out of your family budget? The big ticket items are immovable objects, and the small ticket items don’t make much of a difference. It’s the same for the US Gov’t. No one has a debt or deficit reduction plan because it’s too hard to figure out what to cut in the budget and what to do with $16 trillion dollars on the credit card. When Obama came into office, the debt was around $11 trillion. Note that under Bush, the two wars, the prescription drug bill and the tax cuts for the rich amounted to $4 trilllion!! Now Obama is being blamed for another $5 trillion. But almost $4.2 trillion is due to the budget decificits and holdovers from the Bush administration. Only about $800B can be charged to Obama due to the stimulus plan and other programs (tax holiday, Obama-care, etc.). Under Clinton, there were surpluses, although they “borrowed” from the Social Security trust fund to balance the budget whenever needed, and that added to the national debt. Newt Gringrich keeps referring to 4 balanced budgets but forgets to mention that they robbed social security to do it! So really, everyone is to blame for almost all of the national debt. Yes, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II – not just Obama! If anything, he’s probably had the least impact on the Debt!
To top it all off, every Republican plan for the economy and job creation is a tax plan that increases the Debt year after year, and the foreign policy plan is a war with Iran to further add to the Debt. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum would add trillions to the Debt over 10 years with their tax reduction plans (but don’t tell the voters!). Anyway, how does a tax plan create jobs while reducing the deficit, and how does a war reduce the Debt? They don’t! When will a viable GOP candidate step forward and offer ways to bring in more revenue, make tough spending cuts on the entitlements and military to balance the budget, and stop fighting undeclared wars so that a major dent can be made in the Debt? Not anytime soon, so don’t hold your breath!!