Debt won’t trickle down anytime soon

Published 12:13 am Sunday, January 8, 2012

Going through the files of columns written and sometimes published, I stumbled upon one written less than a year ago admonishing the government’s lust for spending OUR money.

The column was written during a debate about whether to increase the debt ceiling. It used statistics provided by the website, a constantly changing maze of numbers — red for negative, black for positive. The red numbers dominate.

If you are squeamish, please look away now.

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May 26, 2010: The U.S. National Debt was almost at $13 trillion. Each citizen is in debt for $41,000, and each taxpayer is on the hook for $116,000.

Jan. 5, 2012: The debt is at $15.195 trillion, an increase of $2 trillion in 18 months. Each taxpayer’s liability increased $18,000 to $134,000. Each citizen owes $48,000 —up $7,000.

Then: Unfunded liabilities soon will close in on $109 trillion. That includes Medicare, Social Security and prescription drug liability.

Now: Unfunded liabilities have gone up $8 trillion to $117 trillion. Each citizen’s liability is at more than $1 million.

Then: Total U.S. debt is nearly $56 trillion.

Now: In Washington numbers, this one is not that bad. The total has increased only $446 billion.

An old saying exists about lies, damn lies and statistics, and numbers do not always tell the whole story. But by God, these numbers tell a story that cannot possibly have a happy ending. We’re being thrust headlong into national catastrophe and the answers are either tax the rich or cut programs.

There are not enough rich people to tax to cure this. There are not enough programs to cut to cure this. And most importantly, there is not a backbone in Washington that will do either.

Now we enter an election year, and smooth-talking speech writers will have candidates nibbling at the edges of the most pressing issue of our times. But they won’t bite. American voters don’t want to face the realities, and the politicians are quick to oblige.

Ten months minus two days from today, Americans will cast ballots for the lesser of two spending evils. In election years, no politician will suggest raising taxes or cutting programs because the numbers don’t matter to them; re-election does.

Candidates will make promises of getting spending “under control,” but they won’t. And even more numbers on will be red.