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Questions Our Leaders
President Bush and the Democratic Congress have seemed to set aside their differences in order to provide a $150 billion "stimulus package" to avoid a possible recession in our future.
I ask myself, do our elected officials truly have our long term best interests at heart, or is this an example of election year politics at its worst.
This is another case of: "can I buy your vote with your money." Politicians love to hand out your money when running for election and it is kind of like throwing candy at children during a parade.
What we as citizens need to understand that this money they are handing out is "our" money and this stimulus package is "borrowed" money which we as taxpayers will eventually have to pay back.
Although I realize that we may be facing a recession, short term fixes ignore the more long term problems which virtually no political candidate from either party is seriously addressing.
Ask any accountant and they will tell you that when you are in an economic deficit, you either have to increase revenues or decrease expenditures, or both.
Presently, the projected budget deficit for 2008 is $150 billion, but now, it will be $300 billion with the stimulus package. But, this is not the true figure when we add $750 billion that our President and Congress are borrowing from the Social Security Trust Fund.
That's right folks, we will have a TRILLION dollar deficit this year. Do not take my word for it, our nations head accountant David Carter the Comptroller General for the General Accounting Office (GAO) has been traveling around the country to get anyone to listen that we are likely headed for economic collapse in the not so distant future if we do not get our fiscal house in order now, instead of later.
He is advocating that we will have to do a number of things to bring us back into fiscal balance.
First, we need to either increase taxes or decrease spending, or both.
Second, we need to change how we deal with Social Security.
Third, we need to control defense spending.
And finally, we need to seriously deal with our healthcare delivery system.
What is alarming is that the President and Congressional officials already know this, but they chose ignore it preferring to leave it to future politicians to fix.
In raising these four issues, we need to demand more from those wishing to run or continue to run office in the future.
First, we need to increase revenues and decrease expenditures making our politicians responsible when spending OUR money.
My fellow Americans, our current tax code is broken and in need of a major overhaul.
Currently, those at the top of the economic ladder are having a great ride while most of the rest of us have seen a decrease in incomes.
One solution came from Steve Forbes when he advocated a "flat tax" where everyone pays the same percentage equally.
I also advocate a flat tax, but there should be NO DEDUCTIONS.
Deductions in our current tax code tend to favor the wealthy because they have lobbyists to create tax loopholes and full time lawyers and accountants to exploit any and all advantages in the tax code.
On the other side, spending, we need to demand that our elected officials spend our money wisely and not fund multimillion dollar projects like the Alaskan bridge to nowhere.
Second, we need to demand changes concerning Social Security before there is nothing left and it goes bankrupt.
The last time Social Security was going bankrupt was back in the early 80's. A bipartisan panel came up with three major initiatives which President Regan and the democratically controlled Congress approved.
First, they increased social security payroll taxes.
Second, they would begin to increase the retirement age to 67 between 2000 and 2024.
Lastly, they made Social Security part of the federal budget. The last of these issues is the one that has helped paved the way to a path of fiscal irresponsibility because every President and Congress from both parties since 1983 has used the Social Security Trust Fund surpluses to offset and hide their deficit spending while significantly increasing our national debt.
When President Regan took office he inherited an $800 million national debt.
By the end of his and the first Bush administration twelve years later, we had $4.2 trillion national debt and by the end on the Clinton presidency it was $5.7 trillion.
Then the acceleration began. President Bush and the Republican controlled Congress cut taxes mainly favoring those at the top of the economic ladder while significantly increasing all kinds of spending across the board.
By the end of the second Bush administration we will have approximately a $9.7 trillion national debt an increase of $4 trillion in just 8 years.
Unfortunately, the true national debt is closer to $25 trillion when you figure what they have borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund leaving the draws full of IOUs.
This being said, one solution we need to do is demand that Congress and the President take Social Security out of the federal budget so they are not tempted to spend it.
I would also suggest that we eliminate the current $90,000 cap on Social Security payroll taxes which favors higher income bracket taxpayers which can afford to pay more.
Another suggestion is that we may need to modestly increase the payroll taxes on everyone.
Finally, we need to continue to increase the age of retirement each year by one month which will expire in the year 2024 to ensure Social Security's future long term stability.
Third, we need to demand from our politicians that we can be just as safe without spending as much as we do on our military.
When Ronald Regan took office in 1981, we were spending approximately $125 billion on the military.
By the end of his presidency we were spending $300 billion and by the end of the first Bush administration military spending decreased to $276 billion. President Clinton continued to cut back on military expenditures but by the end of his presidency we were still spending $270 billion when he left office. Then the real increase began.
During the past 7 years of the second Bush administration, we have increased military spending to $471 billion an overall increase of 75% and this does not include the nearly one trillion dollars we have spent mainly on the war in Iraq and to a much lesser extent the war in Afghanistan.
Having been a member of military for the past 23 years (5 years active army, 18 years in the National Guard), I have seen first hand a considerable amount of military spending that was unnecessary.
I have watched as each year around September as the military rushed to spend anything they had left in their budgets because the old saying was "if we do not spend it, they will take it away from us next year."
We need to have a fiscally responsible military budget because as long as we keep giving them blank checks, they will spend it.
Fourth, we need to fix our antiquated administrative way of providing healthcare that continues to make the insurance and pharmaceutical industry wealthy while many of us cannot afford quality healthcare.
We are the only westernized industrial society that does not provide healthcare for all their citizens.
Currently, we have 50 million citizens with no health insurance at all and we have another 75 million who have inadequate health insurance. Yet, our governmental expenditures are 16% of the federal budget for healthcare the highest in the world. To go even further, we also have by far the most expensive prescription drug costs in the world.
Changes need to be made because multi-billions of dollars are currently being siphoned off each year to pay for the private insurance, prescription drugs and administrative costs of our private fee for services system which is bankrupting many average Americans. 50% of all Americans filing for personal bankruptcy did so after encountering a major health related incident and 75% of them HAD HEALTH INSURANCE.
But, due to the high cost of co-pays, deductibles, prescription drugs and in many cases the insurance companies refusing to pay for treatments they were left little choice but file for bankruptcy.
Many of you may be saying that what I am advocating in "socialized medicine" and I would say you are correct, but we already have a number of forms of socialized medicine in the USA right now.
For example, Medicare, Medicaid, healthcare for military personnel and their families, and the VA healthcare system are all forms of socialized medicine.
In Closing, we need to get our fiscal house in order NOW. I have watched as we have moved from the world's largest creditor nation to the world's largest debtor nation in less than 30 years.
Most great empires the world has ever seen never fell from outside invasion.
They fell from the excesses of their own making. We are a proud nation and we claim to be the greatest nation on earth, but time may be running out.
Now is the time to act before it is too late.