The greatest threat to the future of America isn’t the rise of Red China, radical Islam, a nuclear Iran or any other external threat. It is our own politicians’ addiction to spending -- and our own folly in keeping the present crowd of business-as-usual Washington insiders in control of Congress.
In spite of the promises Republicans made in the 2010 congressional election, Congress is going to spend its way into another trillion dollar deficit this year -- making four years in a row of trillion dollar deficits, no matter who held the purse strings through a majority in the House.
And this doesn’t include the “off the books” deficit racked-up by Social Security and certain other entitlements. According to a USA Today analysis, the “real deficit” last year was more like $5 trillion, while the "official" number was $1.3 trillion.
Liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and other retirement programs rose by $3.7 trillion in 2011, according to USA Today’s reporting of the government’s actuarial analysis. But the entire amount, that now approaches $46 trillion, is not registered on the government's books for the purposes of calculating the year-to-year deficit.
Were this “real deficit” to be allocated by household, USA Today calculates the federal government’s red ink last year would be equal to $42,054 per household -- which would nearly wipeout the median American household income of $49,445 -- making Democrat claims we can tax our way out of this budget hole an impossibility.
While this is bad news, the even “badder” news is that Congress shows no inclination to stop spending or reform the entitlements that are bankrupting the country.
Indeed, even the gimmicky “sequestration” plan that Congress passed last year as a fig leaf to give political cover to itself for raising the debt ceiling seems about to fall by the wayside. Once panicked Democrats realize that would mean cutting Energy Department handouts to companies like Solyndra and subsidies to sugar producers, while equally panicked Republicans claim that any cut in military spending will weaken America and increase unemployment -- they won't want to "sequester" anything.
As FOX Business columnist and author John Stossel pointed out in a recent column, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Stossel calculates that “we could grow our way out of debt if Congress simply froze spending at today's levels. That would balance the budget by 2017. If spending growth were limited to just 2 percent per year, the budget would balance by 2020!”
But even something as simple as freezing spending until 2017 would require Congress making and passing a spending plan and sticking to it through multiple congressional elections. With the present majority of business-as-usual establishment politicians in Congress, the idea that patriotism might override venality for all of five years is too much to expect.