ICYMI: "The Most Fiscally Irresponsible Gov't in U.S. History"
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In a must-read op-ed in today’s US News & World Report, Mort Zuckerman outlines why Americans’ growing pessimism about the nation’s economic and fiscal situation – and the governments’ economic and fiscal policies — is, regrettably, justified.
On the economic stimulus:
Unemployment has increased, not declined; consumers have retrenched; housing starts have crashed along with mortgage applications; and there is a fear that a double-dip recession may very well be in the pipeline.
In a recent Time magazine poll, two thirds of the respondents say they oppose a second government stimulus program and more than half say the country would have been better off without the first one.
People see the stimulus, fashioned and passed by Congress in such a hurry, as a metaphor for wasted money.
[W]hile many think that the only way to revive the economy and to inject more money into it is through governmental spending, the general feeling is that we can’t afford that right now. The government will be writing more IOUs on top of those we already can’t afford. Why plan a second stimulus if the first stimulus couldn’t prevent high unemployment?
On the debt:
There is another instinctive conclusion among the American people. It is that the national deficit, and the debts we have accumulated, are of critical political importance.
[A]mong the public there has been a suggestive shift of opinion…reflecting worries about debt. “Deficit and government spending” has jumped from 10th or 11th place as a priority for the federal government to one that is second only to job creation and economic growth.
The public knows that, shuffle the numbers as you may, the level of debt is unsustainable.
And on the nation’s future:
The impending retirement of millions of baby boomers, with their claims on federal retirement programs, comes at a time when both parties seem to be willing to worsen tomorrow’s problems to win more of today’s votes. The result is that the federal budget is drifting into a future of huge deficits or unprecedented tax increases, or both.
The challenge we face as a country is how to get growing vigorously again while achieving fiscal sustainability. We are learning from the Europeans what happens when the risks that came with excessive debt become realities.
Too many politicians claim they are all for balanced budgets—but only by reducing the other party’s priorities. Republicans want to reduce social spending. Democrats want to reduce military spending. It is Washington as usual.
An old saying that can apply to the deficit is called the “rule of holes” and goes as follows: “When you’re in one, stop digging.” But Washington politics remains the barrier.
Obama must know that if he doesn’t address this, he will be the president who drove us toward a debt crisis. And so too must Congress, for both have now participated in the most fiscally irresponsible government in American history.