Reckless spending by the G.O.P. is the cause of our fiscal woes
Make no mistake George W. Bush is no conservative. Sure, under the tutelage of Karl Rove, Bush managed to fool a significant number of voters into believing he shared their conservative values. But you can't argue with his record: he's a free-spending liberal who could make Ted Kennedy blush.
On the conservative social front, Bush's actions have been more conservative than his fiscal record, but even here, other than appointing conservative judges to the courts, Bush has done little which hardcore conservatives appreciate.
Fiscally, George W. Bush will likely go down as the most recklessly spending president in our nation's history (with the help of a G.O.P. controlled Congress for most of his term). This week the White House announced the United States government will have a record $482-billion budget deficit next year. And these numbers will more than likely increase if the economy and the housing market continue to slump -- something most economic experts say is likely.
Bad Economics 101
In understanding the nation's terrible fiscal policy, it is important to realize the difference between the national deficit and the national debt. Our national deficit is the amount of money we have to borrow each year to run the government (pay entitlements like Social Security, fund the war in Iraq, and build all the bridges to nowhere so our members of Congress can get re-elected). Our national debt is the cumulative sum of all the money our nation has borrowed from year to year. Think of the debt as all the annual deficits added up. The amount we still haven't paid back is currently $9,546,982,673,051.42 (that's $9.5-trillion). Since 2007, the amount has increased $1.77-billion per day. Each American's share of the national deficit is currently $31,358.69.
Okay, so why care? Because at some point, all of the people who own our Treasury notes expect to be paid back. While that is a novel concept to our president and Congress, most Americans understand that if you don't pay back what you borrow, the lender eventually comes after you to claim the money, or whatever it is (such as your house) you bought with it. Even most high-school drop-outs understand this principle as does anyone who has ever watched the Sopranos. Unfortunately, our politicians in Washington do not.
We should care because our children and grandchildren and their children and their grandchildren are on course to be saddled with this debt. And in addition to leaving them with all of this debt, we will also be leaving them with a Social Security system that is insolvent, and a Medicare program that is similarly bust. So in effect, many of the programs that have been promised to Americans that are the cause of our budgetary and fiscal problems will no longer be around for those who will end up paying for the largesse of previous generations.
And to whom do we owe this money? To a whole lot of people, countries, and companies who buy our bonds and Treasury notes. Think of countries like China. They buy a lot of our notes while inflating their currency so the products they make that we buy at Wal-Mart remain cheap. Oh yeah, they also buy a lot of oil -- which increases demand, and thus our costs for oil -- so they can keep their polluting manufacturing plants humming so we can buy tainted dog food and toys made with lead paint. For the record, 5 percent of all products imported into the U.S. from China are sold at... you guessed it, Wal-Mart.
Oh, and remember that "economic stimulus" package President Bush and Congress passed last year? It cost the Treasury (that's really you and me and future generations), $150-billion. I imagine a lot of that $150-billion was spent at our favorite discount store on cheap crap made in China.
So what do we do? On a micro level, the answer is simple: throw out all the rascals in Congress who spend our money and the money of future generations like a bunch of drunken sailors. And elect a president (like John McCain) who has a record of cutting pork-barrel spending. On a macro level, the solution is not so simple because the American voting public is not that sophisticated when it comes to identifying long-term problems and electing representatives who will address them.
President Bush and Congress' legacy will be one of appalling fiscal stewardship but the American voter is to blame because we don't demand better from our elected officials.
Where is Tony Soprano when you need him?
Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of www.IrreverentView.com. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, Frontpage Florida, and National Review online. E-mail him at: Chris@411Communications.net.