Despite our booming economy, our national debt has continued to grow. It has now topped $21 trillion – but that doesn’t include the debt racked up by state and local governments nor our unfunded liabilities like Social Security and Medicare.
Putting those things aside, that’s roughly $65,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States, or around $170,000 per household. We simply cannot continue to go on this way.
President Trump put his emphasis on growth. That is one way out of this vast hole we are in, but only if we rein in federal spending. The economy is booming, which should bring in more than enough revenue to cover the tax cuts. However, the latest congressional budget, which included $300 billion in additional spending, coupled with rising interest rates have put us deeper in the hole, about $100 billion more per year to be exact.
The political rhetoric on the debt and the deficit has already begun in this run-up to the midterm elections, but here are some important facts to remember: Our problem is not the tax cuts. Tax cuts always lead to more federal revenue in the long run. It’s the increase in spending. So, who is to blame?
The most obvious answer is the president and Congress. It’s not the Democrats. It’s not the Republicans. It’s both. Congress, made up of the people’s representatives, appropriates the money. In effect, it puts the money from the revenue we collect, along with (unfortunately) the money we borrow, into the nation’s checking account. The president then writes the checks. To Trump’s credit, he asked for rescissions. He wanted to use some of that unspent money to reduce the deficit. The House of Representatives agreed, but the Senate said, “No.” Why? It intends to use it next year to offset (justify) yet another increase in wasteful spending.
Before you go to the polls in November, you will undoubtedly be told that your representative wants to rein in this spending and that the other party is intent on increasing our indebtedness. Don’t buy it. Both parties are to blame. Republicans control Congress so they deserve the lion’s share of it. However, before anything is passed, there is a lot of horsetrading involving everyone’s pet projects in order to get the votes. This has to stop! In the end, it’s we the taxpayers who are left holding the bag.
Each year the budget rolls around, any attempt at cuts is met with endless cries of “the world is coming to an end!” We need to go back to the basics: What is the job of the federal government? It is to defend this country and protect its citizens. Anything that does not meet one of those two criteria should be on the chopping block.
One of the first things that should be eliminated is grants, which are nothing but giveaways. These go to nonprofits, universities, governments, private businesses and some of the nation’s most profitable corporations. There is nothing wrong with giving away money when you have it, but we don’t.
A recent oversight report from Open the Books examined the $583 billion in giveaways in fiscal year 2016.
Bear in mind, that’s almost twice the amount of money Congress found it necessary to add to our deficit spending in the most recent budget.
There were 560,771 grants in that year alone. Here are some examples of these unnecessary giveaways.
- Public Heath Foundation Enterprises scored a cool million to develop a mobile sex diary.
- The Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission got $2.5 million to produce an animated children’s cartoon called “Space Racers.”
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia received $418,579 to study the sexual experiences of obese adolescent girls.
- Hydroglyde Coatings received $200,000 to design a new condom.
- Northern Illinois University got $173,089 to study micro-aggressions in “radically diverse bisexual women.”
- The California Prostitutes Education Project received nearly $1.5 million to teach sex-ed to, you guessed it, prostitutes.
- Boeing (a Fortune 100 company) got three grants totaling $195.6 million. One was to study high-performance manufacturing of small parts.
- South Dakota State got $12,000 to fund its Hobo Day.
Of the top 10 grant-receiving congressional districts, five were represented by Democrats and five by Republicans. To be sure, this represents only a drop in the bucket in terms of the federal deficit, but when you start to clean out the refrigerator, you start with the part that smells.
However, it’s time we put the blame where it really belongs. It lies with us. Our representatives have failed us and we keep re-electing them.