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Ross Nelson, Published August 14 2011

Nelson: Welcome to goo-goo America

Welcome to goo-goo America. You would be hard-pressed to find a more juvenile, uninformed attitude toward the recent debt ceiling brouhaha than what many Americans just expressed. They called for compromise when compromise is, in this situation, not called for. Sometimes we can have too much compromise, such as every few years when the president calls us to war. Then we find the Democrats and the Republicans perfectly happy to reach across the aisle to each other to get our kids killed and spend our taxes on wars that have nothing to do with our security. Or to betray our rights with constant surveillance and diminished liberty.

Finally we had our main political parties boldly stand for something: the Democrats for frankly spending us into default oblivion, which is still on the way, and the GOP for trying to hold the line on taxes and spending. What was the public’s reaction? It threw a tantrum about the politicians acting like kids. “Can’t we just get along?” “Why are they squabbling over this deficit problem – just work it out.” And on and on. The talking heads yapped about extremists, i.e., tea partiers, taking over. As if it’s extreme to think America shouldn’t overspend its federal budget by $1.5 trillion annually, forever.

It’s pure nonsense to suppose higher taxes will pay down the federal deficit. Typically the more money the government takes in, the more it spends. Retiring debt is the last thing on its mind, no matter its income. It’s comical to hear the liberals whine about all that budget cutting, chopping, slashing, and related verbs. What cutting? Like the Blob, the federal budget will continue to grow indefinitely. The so-called cuts are merely reductions in the increase in spending.

And the cuts – those harsh, drastic cuts – are a farce. “Up to” an average $220 billion annual decrease is proposed in the deficit deal just finished in Washington – in an era of deficits that are seven times that much yearly. Interest on the national debt is the fourth largest budget item; it was around $415 billion in 2010.

ABC News on Aug. 2 reported that our total deficit of $14 trillion will balloon to $29 trillion in 10 years, with the deficit reduction deal only knocking it down to $26 trillion, if that. How do a trillion bucks or more a year just for interest, before a single cent is spent on anything else, sound to you?

Throw in the $106 trillion Forbes magazine says the government has in unfunded liabilities – i.e., obligations above expected future revenue – and a classic implosion can be seen coming. No doubt many of us are pleased to dance the flamenco on our descendants’ faces by burying them with astronomical debt. We shouldn’t be.


Nelson is a Fargo postal worker and regular contributor to The Forum’s commentary pages.