“Every generation must pay its debt as it goes.” – Thomas Jefferson
In 1999, We the People were one vote away from passing a Balanced Budget Amendment. While Germany, Switzerland, and other countries around the world have adopted balanced budget provisions and other EU nations have capped their public debt at 60% of GDP, the US has refused to address the elephant in the room. As a result, our debt now tops 20 trillion, debt exceeding 100% of GDP, with our current course unsustainable in any lasting sense.
“The problem is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion dollars for the first 42 presidents — number 43 added $4 trillion dollars by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.” – Barack Obama
Our debt under Obama hit 18 trillion, is now over 20 trillion, and We have reached the point where interest payments alone top $200 billion dollars annually, nearly 10% of all tax revenue going to interest on loans we already have. This number will get only worse as debt increases and, presumably, interest rates rise one day. With ‘mandatory’ spending on Medicare and Social Security dominating our expenditures, we cannot expect our current political system, whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats, to balance the budget on its own.
“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
The result of this is that we must now decide if we are going to embrace the notion that our federal government is meant to lobby and argue to determine who is eligible for what aid, tax and borrow to maintain our federal programs, and see what new system our children come up with, or if we are going to again embrace the notion that our federal government is meant to be limited, providing only a culture in which man can flourish, spending only what is necessary to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare, and return to a course we once believed in.
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” – Thomas Jefferson
With our nation needing to borrow nearly 20% of the funds it spends, the average savings of an American over age 60 at only $12,000, and the cost of living too high for most Americans to afford to both provide for oneself and save for retirement, it is apparent to some that we need federal government programs to assist us. To others, it highlights only that a system which charters the federal government to take from the working to provide for the non-working ends up leaving us poor and destitute. As the working man is tasked to both pay for and compete with his neighbor in the marketplace, the cost of goods for the working man rises to the point at which he is never able to provide for his retirement, and his young are never able to escape the mountain of debt which is passed down to them.
“We cannot forever hide the truth about ourselves, from ourselves.” – John McCain
As our politicians bicker and argue, collect tax-free donations, provide separate retirement and health programs for themselves, and appease special interest, our experiment dies. The push for a Balanced Budget Amendment is not for the requirement that, each and every year, Congress shall always maintain a balanced budget regardless of the economic environment we face. Rather, it is a push to put into writing that, barring some event like recession or war that necessitates a change in course, the default position of the federal budget shall be set to “balanced.” If I had one wish from my government, for the sake of my children and the future of this great nation, a Balanced Budget Amendment would be it. To give my children a fighting chance, that is all I ask…
“I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government. I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing. I now deny their power of making paper money or anything else a legal tender. I know that to pay all proper expenses within the year would, in case of war, be hard on us. But not so hard as ten wars instead of one. For wars could be reduced in that proportion; besides that, the State governments would be free to lend their credit in borrowing quotas.” – Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1798.