General Interest / Senior Living

The Federal Budget and Debt – Oh Boy!

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The US Treasury Department is estimating that the government will hit its $14.3 trillion ceiling (yes, that’s a “t” for trillion) sometime soon – most likely between April 15 and the end of May. A few in Washington are talking about raising the debt ceiling – but most (on both sides of the table) are adamantly against that. And for the record, I believe the debt ceiling should not go any higher.

Sound simple enough? Just do it??? We all know otherwise. For example, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Leader says the GOP senators are insisting on cost cuts for the holy triumvirate of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Yes, costs need to be cut, absolutely. And since these 3 programs account for 40% of the federal spending, even I have to admit that it makes sense to “look” for economies within these programs. But I’m not hearing Sen. McConnell putting other programs on a budget diet. So yes, it makes sense to look for economies in lots of other places, too. For example, let’s start by closing those enormous tax loopholes.

Actually, I don’t envy Sen. McConnell, or the President, either. This is an enormous pickle we’ve gotten ourselves into – and it won’t be easy by any stretch to get us out of this. And don’t cop out by saying the politicians got us into this mess – ’cause you and I are the ones who sent those politicians to our state capitols and to DC. (And if you didn’t vote, you’re even a bigger part of the problem.) So, imagine for a moment that you’re the President and you’re going to present to a Senate hearing. (Just play along for a moment.) Here’s an interactive chart from the NY Times that displays the 2011 proposed budget by categories. It also shows, using color coordination, how much of an increase or decrease each program area would experience over the previous year. So you can use this to do your homework in preparation for your Senate hearing presentation. Go to it! Play president. Pick and choose, slash and slice. Exactly what would the budget proposal look like if you were the Prez and you were intent on bringing down the debt. If you’re someone with any sense of ethics and concern for your fellow citizens, then let me tell you, this is a really, really difficult undertaking. I guarantee your head will be spinning after about 3 minutes.

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