The National Debt is the Most Serious Crisis America Faces
It’s time to force Trump to actually live up to his promise of draining the swamp.
David Unsworth April 21, 2019
A generation ago, the national debt stood at just a smidgen over USD $4 trillion and a young presidential candidate named Bill Clinton was discussing a great plan he had to have it entirely paid off by now. Oops. The national debt is now 5.5 times bigger.
More than anything, this astoundingly bad public policy is the fault of Barack Obama, undoubtedly the most irresponsible president in our history…who added on more to the national debt than all other presidents combined in an orgy of Washington, DC, debauchery that saw the size of the federal government mushroom while hundreds of thousands of new bureaucrats were added to federal payrolls, and Washington, DC, housing prices skyrocketed as federal government employees and private industry sub-contractors paid for by the government reveled in their six-figure paychecks and outrageously lavish healthcare and pension plans… all paid for by us, the taxpayers.
Obama’s stewardship of our national finances was truly obscene, but George W. Bush was nearly as bad. He has even less of an excuse, in fact, because he had a Republican Congress to work with for most of his eight years. During that time, Bush took us from USD $5.8 trillion to USD $10 trillion, something that seemed reckless at the time. Of course, in light of the Obama USD $10 trillion spending extravaganza, Bush looks prudent by comparison.
How is it that we supposedly elect the best and the brightest to represent us in Washington, DC,…people with law and medical degrees and MBAs from Ivy League universities, people that come from the finest law practices and accounting firms and consultancies and banks and financial institutions in the country…and our end result is the debt avalanche we now have before us?
Why do we believe politicians of either party when they tell us that they will make our national debt a top priority?
Why is it that the American people seem to fail to understand how ruinous our national debt truly is and what an astounding percent of our national budget we are now spending on servicing that debt?
Interest Is Adding Up
Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has penned an op-ed which presents some eye-opening statistics as to just how bad our national debt really is. By next year, the cost of servicing the national debt (paying interest on it), will exceed the cost of Medicare. By 2025, it will exceed the cost of our military spending, making it the most expensive item in our entire national budget!
Today’s high school and college students are well-versed in a whole host of social justice topics, courtesy of their Marxist professors. How much would you venture to bet that they hear little to nothing about the national debt and what it means for American workers and families?
Today’s campus culture social justice themes include the “right” to “free” healthcare and education… transgender bathrooms… the need for “safe spaces”… the enforcement of campus “speech codes” designed to make sure that no one ever gets their feelings hurt… a robust and comprehensive policy on identifying and denouncing inappropriate Halloween costumes… and a stale and tired Marxist discourse on the exploitative nature of American capitalism.
But… when was the last time college students ever got together to protest a USD $22 trillion and rising national debt? Do they understand the threat, even?
And even more importantly… do they understand why and how we have gotten here?
Quite simply… we have arrived at this point by spending infinitely more than we collect in tax revenue, mainly on things that have no mention in the Constitution as being a function of the federal government.
Public sector unions, and the millions of workers and hundreds of millions of dollars that they spend every year to support the Democratic Party, play a fundamental role in not only our ruinous levels of federal debt but the debt crisis facing our state and local governments as well.
Nothing is more ruinous to our future than the ever-increasing demands of government employees… specifically public sector union employees such as those at AFSCME and the SEIU. They live like kings and queens on the backs of actual working class people… all the while donating hundreds of millions of dollars to the Democratic Party to ensure that their six- and seven-figure paychecks never run dry.
They couldn’t care less about government budgets or the national debt or actual working-class people. They couldn’t care less about “public service.” There are only two things that public sector unions care about: soaking the rest of us for the biggest paychecks possible… and shoveling money to socialist politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
But it is not merely their salaries and the fact that government employees rarely, if ever, get fired. It’s the highly lucrative nature of their healthcare and pension plans… plans to which they contribute far less than their private sector counterparts.
For states, these plans have proved a bitter pill to swallow, and have led to the greatest fiscal crisis in the United States that you have most likely never heard about: unfunded pension liabilities. When you drill down into the details, it is almost impossible to believe that the situation is true. Essentially, states promise outrageously generous pensions to state employees (who, of course, rally to support whichever candidate promises them the most money), and then fail to fund those very plans… kicking the can down the road to future administrations and generations.
The Snowball Keeps Getting Bigger
Now, it amounts to a USD $6 trillion crisis.
For the libertarian and conservative movements, it’s time to stand for fiscal responsibility and common sense. It’s time to stand against government employees and their demands, and explain to the American people that the government is spending their money on entirely unconstitutional (read: illegal) things. It’s time to take a strong stand against the public sector unions like AFSCME and the SEIU that are leading this country to fiscal ruin.
And more than anything, it’s time to force Trump to actually live up to his promise of draining the swamp: reigning in the excess and beginning to drastically reduce the size of our bureaucratic state: firing large numbers of government employees.
These government employees are driven by self-interest.
It is hard to envision government employees stepping back from the situation and saying:
Well, I have a pretty generous salary, healthcare, and pension. It’s far more generous than the private sector enjoys. And we are $22 trillion in debt, and the government is spending too much money. So… as much as it pains me to say… me and some other government employees should lose our jobs. The government is spending too much money, deficits and debt are growing, and I should go look for a job in the private sector.
That is never going to happen. Public sector unions are a millstone around our neck, and as many commentators have noted, they have no natural enemies.
Except, of course, for citizen watchdog groups and independent media outlets who are not afraid to denounce them and point out their ruinous nature.
I, for one, will not rest until we return our government to the vision of the Founding Fathers, who would not have approved of any of this. Let’s start by ending the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Agriculture. That would be a good start. We could use the money we saved to begin paying off our national debt, and government employees would have to do something that the vast majority of real working class people have to do every day: compete in a highly competitive free market economy to earn our daily bread.
David Unsworth is a Boston native. He received degrees in History and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis and subsequently spent five years working in real estate development in New York City.