The Trade Deficit and You
WASHINGTON – There is simply no denying the fact that a nation with an unstable budget cannot endure for long. No nation in history has ever been able to maintain its unfunded liabilities in perpetuity. Nations that cannot control their spending and balance their budget always collapse. The historical proof of this is insurmountable.
The problem that America faces today is not that it has an unfunded government and a mountain of debt. Our problem is the absolute refusal by either political party, or any sizable portion of the public, to actually address the issue. We as a nation need to become more fiscally responsible on every level. The first step toward responsibility is becoming informed.
According to The New York Times, using data collected from government agencies, if left unchanged the federal fiscal deficit in the year 2015 will be $418 billion above the level of sustainability. The deficit for the year 2030 will be a staggering $1,345 billion ($1.3 trillion) above sustainability.
The United States will face some troubling decisions when that time comes. It could a) opt to take out more foreign loans and hand over more of its political leverage, b) enact devastating cuts at some point down the road, or c) collapse completely.
In the wake of the Republican electoral landslide in November 2010 it is highly unlikely that any spending cuts or deficit reductions will come from the new House of Representatives. Regardless of the campaign rhetoric, Republicans have zero history of fiscal responsibility in the living memory of this nation.
With no hope for the legislators to come up with these plans on their own the groundswell must come from the people. Republicans and Democrats will choose whatever path wins them more votes. They are unconcerned about America’s fate because the vast majority of Americans are unconcerned. Putting pressure back on our elected representatives will force them to begin representing our interests once again.
The New York Times recently published an interactive graphic allowing readers to play with America’s budget. By simply selecting one of a few options you can tackle the deficit first-hand and see how your choices for austerity or free spending will pan out in the long run.
By cutting our troop commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000 by 2013 and letting the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich and wealthy alike elapse you can make huge headway. Doing so cut three-quarters of the 2015 deficit. It also cut one-third of the long-term debt by 2030. Truly tackling the long-term debt will require addressing medical costs and the increasing disparity among what retirees draw out and what workers put in, but that is politically divisive.
The wars are unpopular and completely unnecessary for domestic security. The Bush Tax Cuts are agreed by every reputable economist to be the major source of our current fiscal crisis. We survived before President Bush’s wars and tax cuts; we will survive after they are gone. Doing away with our entanglements with these will require nothing more than political resolve.