AMERICA'S SERIOUS DEFICITS
September 22, 2006
Americans should shudder at our fiscally perilous bottom line, says U.S. Comptroller General David Walker.
- Medicare and Medicaid, the national healthcare programs, now gobble up 19 percent of the federal budget.
- In 1965, Congress had discretion over how to spend 66 percent of the budget; but in 2005, that percentage had dropped to 39 because of ongoing commitments to existing programs.
- The country's projected long-term liabilities and unfunded obligations soared from an unthinkable $20 trillion to an unimaginable $46 trillion in five years.
- That makes each household responsible for $411,000, or $156,000 per person.
But despite the fact that many Americans already have woken up to these realities, Walker says their views aren't reflected in Washington with enough breadth or depth to solve very real problems that endanger our future.
To help correct this, Walker advocates serious re-evaluation of what the federal government does, and how, if we're to avoid drastic tax increases and program reductions. According to Walker, we should:
- Strengthen budget controls and bring back spending caps.
- Put more restraints on those earmarked expenditures that legislators slip into spending bills.
- Consider giving the president some power to scratch line items from those measures.
- Start asking fundamental questions about the nation's transportation systems, tax incentives, energy policies, disability services, medical care standards, homeland security funding, defense capabilities, job training, housing supports and other programs.
Source: Linda P. Campbell, "'America has at least four serious deficits'," Fort Worth Star Telegram, September 21, 2006.
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