NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

November 7, 2012

Fix national debt for everyone's sake

No matter who is elected, the next administration must focus on reducing the exploding national debt. Unless it is seriously addressed by Congress, $16 trn (trillion) and rising at more than $1.2 trn per year is a threat to the entire economy for decades to come.

More spending is not the answer. The current total debt is now more than the country’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), almost half of which is held offshore. Current interest payments alone are $260 billion this year, which is staggering. They are now 10 percent of the national budget and projected to grow to 15 percent by 2020. The U.S. credit rating is dropping.

We have over-mortgaged our future. It’s like buying a house that we can’t afford with current income, and now we’re under water. Every person in the country is on the hook for more than $50,000, and rising. National debt is growing at over $100 billion per month. And the government fallback position is to simply print more money and create more debt — and yet it is mandatory in Massachusetts that cities and towns have balanced budgets.

The current climate in Congress is disturbingly divided. Ideology reigns supreme, no matter how extreme or self-indulgent. There is no spirit of compromise for the common good. And now, REVENGE is an emerging theme? The country is divided. We need leaders who are more concerned with fixing the economy for everyone than winning elections or pandering to special interests. Legislators must understand that unless there is prosperity overall, there will be none to share. Everyone suffers until this problem is fixed.

Singularly “taxing the rich” will not suffice. We face the proverbial “fiscal cliff,” which already has businesses and markets rattled. There will be larger, broad-based taxes on everyone, for example a reversion of the recent payroll tax cuts, taxation of investment income at ordinary rates, confiscatory tax rates on inheritance, additional health care taxes, etc. Two-thirds of the federal budget now goes to entitlements that are headed for insolvency, so how can these expenditures be ignored?

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