A new policy paper released by House Republicans late yesterday should create quite a stir among those Americans already concerned about whether or not they will be able to leave their children with a better standard of living than they themselves enjoyed. I don’t know about you, but I’m barely scraping by. I worry daily about how and when the lower cost of living here in the Lowcountry will finally allow us to catch up in the short term — when I think of my daughter and what awaits her as she grows and becomes a strong, independent woman, it keeps me up at night.
Truthfully, it’s 1:00 a.m. and I should be in bed already. Having read yesterday’s work product from the House GOP, however, instead of counting sheep tonight I may need to shear the little buggers and sell the wool. Let’s get to it, shall we?
First, they start with a choice quote from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
Addressing the challenge of our national debt requires bold leadership and tough choices from members of both parties. Our children and grandchildren are counting on us to chart an effective course toward responsible stewardship of the public purse.
I know. I had to read it twice, too. As it turns out, Pelosi said those words on March 24 of this year, approximately two months after her Democrats voted to increase our national debt ceiling by $1.9 trillion to a maximum of $14.3 trillion, and about one year after President Barack Obama promised to “ban all earmarks” and then signed into law his very first spending bill — replete with nearly 9,000 earmarks totaling $7.7 billion in taxpayer money.
Next in the release, House Republicans cite a report from Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, detailing how the Democratic Party leadership in Congress has, in just nineteen short months, contributed an additional $4.4 trillion in deficits to the ten year budget projection put out by the Congressional Budget Office. Despite claims of fiscal responsibility from the Democrats, they write, nothing changes.
The harmful effects of the Democrats’ runaway spending on growth and prosperity are vast. Crowding out of private investment, growing interest payments, and dependence on foreign competitors are all consequences of the federal government’s profligate spending and debt. Additionally, the debt explosion created to fuel Washington’s recklessness has a personal impact on every American: it is ultimately borne by every man, woman and child in the nation. According to CBO and Census Bureau long-term estimates, the amount of debt placed on the backs of children born today is about to explode. If nothing is done, our generation will have the sad legacy of being the first to lower the standard of living of the next generation.
Finally, they get to the reason my head may hit the pillow in a few minutes, but my mind will likely continue working until dawn.
A TIMELINE OF THE PERSONAL PUBLIC DEBT BURDEN FOR A CHILD BORN IN 2010
2010: By the end of 2010, CBO predicts that the total U.S. debt held by the public (as opposed to the gross national debt which includes inter-governmental holdings) will be $9.05 trillion. That means that children born in 2010 will start life with a personal share of the public debt equaling $29,178.
2020: When children born today celebrate their tenth birthday, their share of the nation’s public debt will have already increased by 70 percent to reach $49,694 per child.
2023: By the time they are 13 years old, their share of public debt will have doubled to $58,971. This is also the first year that per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be surpassed by the per capita share of the public debt for every American.
2028: When those children born in 2010 reach their 18th birthdays, they will have inherited an individual debt responsibility of $80,650.
2032: As children born in 2010 begin to graduate from college and enter the work force, their public debt responsibility will have tripled. As they begin their adult lives, the next generation will already be saddled with $103,826 of the government’s debt. And, unfortunately, as interest payments and entitlement spending increase more rapidly, their share of the nation’s debt will begin to grow at an accelerated rate.
2040: At the age of 30, their public debt responsibility will be approximately $166,500—an increase of 471 percent from the time that they were born.
2050: If government spending is not immediately restrained, our nation’s public debt is projected to increase from $9.1 trillion in 2010 to $122.8 trillion by 2050. As a result, when children born today reach 40 years old, their share of the U.S. public debt will be $279,738—an increase of 859 percent above what it is today. For a family of four, the total household debt share would be approximately $1.119 million.
THE OUTLOOK FOR THE NEXT GENERATION: DEBT EXPLODES AND PROSPERITY STAGNATES
- According to estimates from CBO and the Census Bureau, per capita GDP in the U.S. is approximately $47,000 in 2010, which is $17,883 more than the current level of public debt per person ($29,178). Reckless Washington spending will soon send the individual public debt burden skyrocketing past per capita GDP as spending and debt replace private economic growth.
- In 2023, the amount of U.S. public debt shared by every man, woman, and child in the nation will exceed their share of our nation’s GDP as debt rapidly out paces growth.
- While the individual public debt burden is projected to increase by $250,560 over the next 40 years, the GDP per American is only estimated to grow by $34,258.
- Over the next 40 years, estimates predict that spending will cause the debt held by the public to increase by 859 percent for every U.S. citizen. By comparison, per capita GDP is projected to grow by only 73 percent over the same period.
- Unless drastic actions are taken to reduce spending now and in the future, debt will dwarf growth and future generations will be less prosperous than those that preceded them.
Inevitably, when confronted with reality, our friends on the other side of the political aisle will bring up congressional spending under former President George W. Bush. In fact, President Obama himself laid blame at Bush’s feet back in January 2009 before he even took office, saying that “we’ve got trillion-dollar deficits for years to come, even with the economic recovery we’re working on.”
How prescient he was. Obama’s budget deficit for 2009 was $1.41 trillion, while in 2010 it exceeded $1.5 trillion. In fact, according to a report released earlier this year by the CBO, during the dozen years in which the House was under GOP control the average budget deficit was roughly $104 billion. Since the Democrats regained control following the mid-terms in 2006, however, that average has jumped to a monstrous $1.1 trillion.
But wasn’t much of the GOP’s control during the Clinton years, your liberal friends and colleagues will likely ask? Weren’t the Democrats in control during Bush’s expensive second term? Absolutely, but remember — Article I of the U.S. Constitution specifically holds that all legislation begins in Congress. In other words, the president cannot spend anything not expressly authorized by Congress.
Folks, I’ve stood on the precipice of personal financial ruin, caused in part by extrinsic circumstances but also because of our own poor decision-making. I also know that, across the country, there are families just like ours who likewise have their bills spread across the kitchen table, figuring out who needs to be paid now and who can wait. For those families and for my own, the way to foment a financial recovery in our own homes is the same way it needs to be done inside the Beltway.
Here, on Main Street, we need to cut back on spending, excising frivolities from and ratcheting back our budget when and where we can. We need to find a way to bring in more revenue, whether it be from taking that table-waiting job at Applebee’s at night or putting in a few extra hours at work. And we need to do everything in our power to insulate ourselves from exterior uncertainty as well, rethinking perhaps what we’re doing with whatever money we’re able to put toward a meager savings.
In Washington, the answer is much the same. Cut spending by eliminating earmarks and by implementing measures like Congressman Mike Pence’s Spending Limit Amendment. Increase revenue by cutting taxes across the board, by making the United States of America a worldwide repository for business growth rather than a mere cost-prohibitive facilitator of growth overseas in places like India and China. And, gosh darn it, we need to get serious about true energy independence, insulating us from the political and socio-economic tides encountered due to the energy trade.
About six hours from now, my daughter is going to walk into my room, lick her pinky finger, and place it into my ear while sing-songing the words “Daaaaaaaddy, wake up.” She’s four years old. And she’s already $30,000 in debt.
While I continue to be impressed by the work being done by the Pence-led House Republican Conference, they sure aren’t doing much for my sleeping habits.