NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Only $279,950,956,705.59 Left to Spend

January 10, 2011

After blowing through $2.6 trillion in tax dollars, the government will only be able to charge a mere $280 billion extra to future generations -- a horrifying prospect that has sent the White House into a panic.  Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner last week urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, to restore the president's ability to spend beyond the nation's means.  If the new Republican House majority concedes on this point, it will have lost the only hope of restoring fiscal sanity, says the Washington Times.

White House economist Austan Goolsbee said that allowing the U.S. government to default on its debt obligations would be "insanity," bringing catastrophic financial effects.  Indeed, just one result of ruining the national credit rating would be to drive the cost of interest payments, currently $197 billion a year, to unprecedented levels.  Of course, continuing on our present path is disastrous, says the Times.

  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates that America already is on track to quadruple interest payments to $778 billion within 10 years.
  • Unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare amount to a staggering $47 trillion, according to the latest reports by trustees.
  • Combined with the public debt, this amounts to $660,000 in liability for each individual who paid taxes to the federal government last year.

Hard choices have to be made to save the nation.  Any deal over the debt ceiling must include reform of an entitlement system that places $2.1 trillion in spending on autopilot.  Unnecessary cabinet departments and programs need to be terminated.  Civil service rules have to be rewritten so that lifetime employment and automatic raises are no longer guaranteed for bureaucrats.  Anything less will perpetuate the "live for today" philosophy that brought America to the brink of financial ruin.  It is time to cut the national credit card, says the Times.

Source: "Only $279,950,956,705.59 Left to Spend," Washington Times, January 6, 2011.

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