What does our financial future hold?

Published 2:32 am Sunday, March 6, 2011

As I have said before in this column, I am not a good “bean counter.” Some people thrive on numbers; I don’t. I love reading history.

But the recent congressional budget battles have caught my attention, although I have tried to avoid getting hooked on a TV program about the battles in Congress over spending and the budget.

I have long ago given up any pretext of believing that we will get out of this financial mess the “powers-that-be” have gotten us into.

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I believe (I hope I am wrong) the country will go bankrupt, although I don’t know what all that entails, but I imagine it will not be pretty.

I really don’t know whether it was the Democrats, the Republicans or Wall Street that got us into this mess. Democrats point to Republicans and Republicans point to Democrats, and both Republicans and Democrats point to Wall Street.

All I can point out is the things I remember being told did not come to fruition. Were we lied to?

For instance, Obama told us, I am sure you remember, that after he spent the stimulus money, jobs would be popping up everywhere, unemployment would be below eight percent and the economy would be hitting on all eight cylinders. Remember they said something about infrastructure jobs.

Well, as you can see that did not happen, at least the unemployment rate did not fall.

So then, the talking point was, “Well, the stimulus spending staved off another Great Depression.”

And then they said the economy was gradually improving, but that this recovery was a “jobless recovery.” But can someone explain to me how you can have a recovery without jobs? I have never heard of such, but it took a genius to come up with that phrase.

A “jobless recovery” would be sort of like the term “a windless hurricane.” Have you ever seen one of those?

That’s like the bureaucratic pronouncement that spending has nothing to do with deficits; only not applying the proper amount of taxes produces deficits.

I got to thinking about this subject again when I heard Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, say that if we keep going on this path we are currently on, that the U.S. economy in 2037 will implode. I think, although I can’t prove it, it will be much sooner.

Again I don’t know what that means, an implosion of an economy, how it will affect us, but I know it would be traumatic.

Of course, by then I will not be here, and I won’t have to worry about it but my children and grandchildren will. So it worries me. Ryan says if we move right now to address the issue, we still have time to correct things, so everything won’t collapse in 2037.

Do you believe him?

I do. He is a noted expert on the budget, according to what I have read.

We are lied to all the time, and it is not easy to find someone who will tell you the truth.

I know, and you know, that we have been lied to by both the Republicans and Democrats, both parties. And it has happened so much that those who practice mendacity nowadays face no punishment at the ballot box.

What is amazing to me, and I think I am right about this, is that the federal government, the House and Senate, controlled last year by the Democrats, have operated all year without a budget so far.

When they run out of money and need more, they just up the debt ceiling. They actually are operating in the dark. Can you imagine if you did this in your family, or our local and state officials did this with their budgets.

Now, I sit in a lot of budget hearings in Pearl River Co. and watch officials wrestle with making budgets balance. It is not pretty. But I can’t imagine the PRC board of supervisors, or the Pearl River Co. school board, just operating blind and not working off a budget.

If they operated like Congress, then when the money ran out, they’d just print or borrow more and raise the debt limit. That is unimaginable to you and to me, who must live within our means, but it’s done regularly in Congress.

That’s why we are $13 trillion in debt on the federal level, and why Congress and Obama have spent more and borrowed more in two years, than all the previous congresses and presidents combined.

I don’t know the answer; you vote for someone you think will do the right thing, and when they get to Washington, D.C., it seems they are sucked into the system and compromised.

It remains to be seen if this Congress and this President can get under control the monster of runaway spending.