The national debt is fascinating to watch. I’m talking about how fast it grows, and how our elected leaders profess to be unable to slow it down, let alone stop it and shift into reverse. Their failure so far, even in the face of what almost everybody says will be the disaster of the fiscal cliff, looks like a sign of the failure of our system of self-government.
You can watch the national debt grow on the website of Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-4th District. I watched it for a little while, and it grows by a million dollars every 20 seconds or so. When I last checked, on the day before Christmas Eve, the debt was about $16 trillion. Sixteen point 345 trillion dollars, to be more or less exact. Most of us won’t live to see it reduced substantially. But it would be encouraging to see it stop growing, at least.
Everyone knows what has to be done: Federal spending has to be reduced at the same time that revenues must be made to grow. The only good way to do that is to jazz up our economy, but even while the economy lumbers along in first gear, revenue has to grow. For one thing, the “temporary” payroll tax cut has to be rescinded. The payroll tax, funding Social Security and Medicare, also ought to be extended to all income, not just to the first $113,700. (That’s the amount subject to the tax in 2013.) Medicare, Medicaid and the addition of Obamacare together are just too much for the government to afford.
And as for revenue increases, we all ought to recognize that we can’t continue to expect the country to maintain one dollar of expense for every 60 cents of income. It’s insane to spend money like that, and Congress and the administration have been taking the country down the drain. Unless they snap out of it, we have to conclude that regardless of what we’ve been taught, our kind of representative government does not work after all. (hh)