Our debt is growing so fast that we will soon be bankrupt if we don’t change what we are doing. We have simply got to figure out how to fix the debt. I am Jack Heidel, a retired UNO math professor and not looking for a new career. I am confident that I can make a difference in one six year term in the U.S. Senate. Please vote for me on May 15 in the Republican Primary.
This is the text of a TV commercial which begins running this weekend in the Omaha and Lincoln areas. It attempts to summarize in one short statement what I have been saying for a long time:
Our debt (the public part on which we pay interest) is now 78% of GDP and predicted by the Congressional Budget Office to reach almost 100% in the next ten years. Annual deficits are growing rapidly and will be back to almost $1 trillion by next year.
The incumbent Deb Fischer is totally ignoring the debt and has actually voted twice recently to make it worse than it already is. The new tax law, for all of its good individual features, will increase the debt by $1 trillion over ten years, even after new growth is taken into account. The new two year budget, also voted for by Fischer, increases the debt by another $1 trillion.
Fixing the debt doesn’t mean paying it off but rather shrinking annual deficits way down so that they are less than the rate of growth of GDP. Then the debt will begin to shrink as a percentage of GDP just as it did after WWII.
Entitlement reform and, in particular, the high cost of American healthcare, is the only practical way to deal with the debt problem. All of us, as healthcare consumers, must have more personal responsibility for holding down the cost of our own healthcare.
Conclusion. I am so alarmed by our enormous and out-of-control debt that I am challenging an incumbent U.S. Senator in a primary election. If you live in Nebraska I would appreciate your support!
I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for U.S. Senate, against the incumbent Deb Fischer because she is totally ignoring our enormous and out-of-control national debt. In fact she has just recently voted twice to make it worse than it already is.
The major driver of our debt is the entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Social Security is self-funded from the payroll tax and can be shored up long term with some relatively simple adjustments such as raising the income cap on which the payroll tax is levied and/or SLOWLY raising the eligibility age for full benefits. Medicaid costs can be controlled by block-granting it to the states with a fixed contribution from the federal government.
But Medicare will be much harder to reform because it is the most expensive entitlement program of all. The above chart shows that a couple with average wages reaching age 65 in 2015 can expect to receive Medicare benefits that exceed what they put in by $357,000. This subsidy will only increase in the years ahead.
The American Enterprise Institute’s James Capretta has recently described one possible way to get Medicare costs under control. In outline:
Combine hospitalization (Part A), outpatient services (Part B) and drugs (Part D) into a single combined insurance product.
Offer community-rated premiums for beneficiaries, meaning that premiums would not depend on age or health status.
A small, universal entitlement benefit would be paid to all enrollees set to cover about 20% of today’s benefit and equal to about $2600. The Medicare payroll tax of 2.9% would pay for this universal benefit.
Additional financial support would be based on lifetime earnings, with the lowest quartile receiving substantial additional support which would be phased out for middle- and upper-middle class retirees.
Retirees would purchase private insurance plans which could be in the form of high-deductible catastrophic insurance combined with health savings accounts.
Conclusion. “The reform of Medicare outlined above is a plan to substitute higher premiums from the middle and upper classes for the large general-fund subsidies taxpayers now provide to Medicare to finance the majority of Part B and Part D costs. The end goal is a self-financing Medicare program.”
I am a candidate in the Nebraska Republican Primary for U.S. Senate against the incumbent Deb Fischer because she is ignoring out enormous and out-of-control national debt. In fact she has voted twice recently to make the debt much worse than it is already.
In my last post I made the case that debt is by far the biggest long term problem facing our country and that it will be a huge burden on future generations, starting with the millennials.
A new report from the Congressional Budget Office shows just how bad the problem really is:
To just stabilize our debt at the current level of 78% of GDP (for the public part on which we pay interest) will take a savings of at least $5.4 trillion over the next ten years. To achieve even this modest goal would require reducing annual deficits by roughly 50%.
To balance the budget by 2028 (allowing ten years to accomplish this) would take a savings of least $7 trillion over the next decade. This would mean reducing annual deficits by $700 billion per year on average, an extremely difficult task.
Such numbers as these show how frightfully serious our fiscal situation is. Our national leaders should be working hard to focus the country’s attention on this awful problem and how we are going to address it. Instead they won’t even come together to negotiate sensible annual budgets.
Conclusion. How will our debt problem be resolved? Will it take a new crisis to wake up the country to our extremely dire fiscal situation? I prefer to be optimistic and hope for sensible action to head off a new crisis. But there is absolutely no guarantee that common sense will prevail.
I am a young voter, that was not of age during the presidential election, so I am doing my research to make sure I help make a wise voting decision for our state. I understand that your main focus is the debt, and I have read up on your other issues as well, but I wanted to ask you what makes you stand out from the other candidates. I have concluded that democratic candidate Ms. Jane Raybould and you have very similar stances on issues. So, I guess my question would be what can you do for our state that other candidates haven’t brought up. I am looking forward to hearing back from you.
Here is my answer to a young, open-minded, first-time voter:
I am an unconventional candidate because I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate, specifically:
The national debt, now 78% of GDP (for the public part on which we pay interest), is the highest since right after WWII, and is predicted by the Congressional Budget Office to keep getting steadily worse without major changes in current policy such as curtailing the growth of entitlement spending. This is by far the greatest long term problem facing our country. If we don’t address it, we will inevitably have a new and very severe fiscal crisis in the near future, as soon as interest rates return to normal (and higher) historical levels. Basically, we are in a deep hole, nonchalantly digging it deeper and deeper, when we need to devote all of our efforts to climbing out.
Social issues such as abortion policy, gun rights and immigration reform are highly contentious but do not fundamentally threaten our prosperous and stable way of life. I am confident that the political process will eventually achieve an acceptable resolution of these social issues. I am far less confident that normal politics will get us out of our debt bind.
Conclusion. What distinguishes me from all of the other candidates in this race, Democratic, Libertarian or Republican, is my strong insistence that we must focus on solving our out-of-control debt problem. Otherwise the future of our country is at great risk. Millennials will suffer most from inaction.
From a reader of my blog:
My biggest concern is your stand on the 2nd Amendment. Just about all of us here in Western Nebraska own firearms. There’s no way we’re gonna give them up. You need to change your position, my friend.
I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate against the incumbent, Deb Fischer, because she is ignoring our enormous and out-of-control national debt. In fact, she has just recently voted twice to make the debt even worse than it already is. This is highly irresponsible because uncontrolled debt puts our peaceful and prosperous way of life at great risk.
Even though I am primarily focused on our debt problem, and how to solve it, there are other important issues in this congressional race and I have taken positions on many of them.
By far the most controversial position I have taken is to endorse a ban on the purchase of assault weapons. I have done so for the following reasons:
First of all, I strongly support the 2nd Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms.”
The 2nd Amendment does allow some restrictions on guns. For example, guns are not allowed to be carried onto airplanes or into courtrooms.
We need to curtail mass shootings in the U.S. and I support the growing national momentum to get this done.
Stricter background checks on gun purchases and improved mental health treatment will help to some extent. But even with improvements along these lines, too many dangerous people will fall through the cracks and be able to acquire guns.
All mass shootings are carried out with semiautomatic assault weapons and so making them scarcer is the most effective action we can take to curtail them.
Conclusion. I am making an uphill effort to unseat an incumbent U.S. Senator because of my great concern about our horrendous national debt. But a candidate must take stands on many different issues and I am doing this. I am not a threat to the 2nd Amendment and I hope gun owners will be able to understand this.
I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate against the incumbent Deb Fischer because she is ignoring our enormous and out-of-control national debt. In my last post I laid out the reasons why you should believe me when I say I will make fixing the debt my top priority.
So let’s assume that I replace Deb Fischer in the Senate. Then what will happen? Lots of things:
First of all, it will show that Nebraska voters understand how serious our debt problem is and are willing to support a candidate who can argue convincingly that we must fix it. Such an outcome in just one state will attract national attention and therefore greatly increase national awareness of the debt problem.
From day one in January 2019, I would start agitating with Democratic and Republican senators alike for action on the debt issue. Keep in mind that I am a non-ideological fiscal conservative. I am confident that many other senators understand the inherent magnitude of the debt problem and would respond in a positive manner to a bipartisan attempt to find a workable solution.
Any effective solution must involve entitlement reform which is a highly charged issue. In particular, it is the high cost of both public and private healthcare which is the main problem. Basically we need to move away from defined benefit healthcare towards defined contribution healthcare which would likely take the form of high deductible catastrophic care plus health savings accounts. Any widely acceptable plan would have to be universal (i.e. include everyone) and provide adequate subsidies so that everyone can afford it. Here is one possible way to do it.
Conclusion. Our debt problem is solvable but it will take a lot of dedicated effort by national leaders to actually get this done. The sooner we get started the easier it will be to move forward.
From a reader of my blog: Jack is the voice almost in the wilderness trying to warn us that we are deficit spending and borrowing ourselves into being Greece or even, eventually, Venezuela. He is a principled politician, almost an oxymoron today. I could go out and max out my three credit cards, around $24,000, on a big lavish trip somewhere. But I know better, because my credit would be shot and I would go bankrupt and end up living like a pauper. Maxing out our credit is what we are doing as a nation and there are severe consequences for that kind of irresponsibility.
I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for U.S. Senate because the incumbent, Deb Fischer, is ignoring our enormous and out-of-control national debt. In fact, she has voted twice recently to make it much worse than it already is.
The question I am often asked is: “I agree with you about the debt and deficit spending but how do I know that you’ll be any better than all the other people who go to Washington and end up joining the establishment instead of opposing it, once they get there?”
Here is my answer:
I am a non-ideological fiscal conservative and have been writing about the debt and related issues consistently for several years on my blog “It Does Not Add Up.”
I am also a social moderate who is willing to take stands at odds with Republican orthodoxy such as endorsing a ban on the purchase of assault weapons as being the most effective way of curtailing mass shootings.
I am a retired UNO math professor and am not looking for a new career. If elected, I would focus on deficit and debt reduction from my first day on the job. It is unlikely that I would run for a second six year term.
Conclusion. I am confident that I will do what I say but how do I persuade the voters that I have the courage of my convictions?
I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate because the incumbent, Deb Fischer, is ignoring our enormous and out-of-control national debt. In fact she recently voted twice to make it worse.
The new tax law, in spite of its good individual features, increases our debt by $1 trillion over the next ten years, even after new growth is taken into account. The new budget agreement increases spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. Fischer voted for both of these measures.
The Hoover Institution analyst, John Cogan, summarizes our dire fiscal situation in the above chart which compares three major categories of federal spending since 1950: defense, entitlements and all other. Entitlement spending is steadily increasing. The other two categories have stabilized at about 3.5% of GDP each.
The Manhattan Institute scholar, Brian Riedl, explains why this situation is so serious that it is already an emergency:
Between 2008 and 2030, 74 million baby boomers, will retire into Social Security and Medicare, at the rate of 10,000 per day.
Today’s typical couple has paid $140,000 into Medicare and will receive $420,000 in benefits, largely because physician and drug benefits are not prefunded with payroll taxes (only hospitalization is). Social Security recipients also come out way ahead.
The imbalance is so large that something has to give. Doubling the top tax rates of 35% and 37% to 70% and 74% (I.e. taxing the rich) would only cover 1/5 of the long term shortfall in revenue. An increase in inflation (purposeful or not) will not dilute away our debt. Social Security and Medicare benefits are also tied to inflation. Faster inflation would also increase interest rates and therefore interest payments on our rapidly growing debt.
Restructuring cannot wait. Every year of delay sees 4 million more baby boomers retire and get locked into benefits which will be difficult to alter. “Reality will soon fall like an anvil on Generation X and Millennials as they find themselves on the wrong side of the largest generational wealth transfer in world history.”
Conclusion. A severe form of fiscal cancer is gradually creeping over the body politic. We ignore it at our grave peril.
I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate because the incumbent, Deb Fischer, is ignoring our enormous and out-of-control national debt. Of course, there are many other important issues addressed by Congress and my last two posts, here, and here, discuss the need for more gun control to reduce the number of mass shootings in the U.S.
Now it’s back to (fiscal) basics.
The Kaiser Foundation has discovered that by far the top issue of concern for voters this year is the high cost of healthcare. Here are some of the many reasons why this should be a very top priority for deliberation in Congress:
The cost of healthcare is the fundamental driver of our debt problem.
Three major corporations: Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase are banding together to lower healthcare costs for their own employees. All companies have similar concerns.
A major reason for the high cost of American healthcare is the employer mandate of the ACA which requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance for all employees.
Huge savings for employees, employers and government could be had by modifying the employer mandate to give employees the option to migrate to personal healthcare insurance, see here and here.
Conclusion. “The federal government’s most urgent domestic challenge is the exploding debt and deficit.” Getting healthcare costs under control is the key to solving our debt problem and reducing a major expense for millions of American families.
I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for U.S. Senate. The incumbent Deb Fischer is running for reelection. She is a nice lady and represents Nebraska well in many respects. For example she is on the Senate Agricultural Committee which is important to the Nebraska economy.
But there is one major way in which Fischer is falling down on the job. She is ignoring our enormous and out-of-control national debt. In fact she has voted twice recently to make the debt even worse than it already is. The new tax law increases debt by $1 trillion over the next ten years even after new growth is taken into account. The new budget deal could add an additional $2 trillion to the debt over the next decade. Fischer voted for both of these items. I want to emphasize as strongly as possible that this is why I am challenging her in the Republican Primary.
Of course, I have positions on other issues. For example, I have recently endorsed a ban on assault weapons. But for me there is a huge difference between fiscal and social issues:
Our national debt, now 77% of GDP (for the public part on which we pay interest) is projected to reach 109% of GDP in just 10 years and to keep increasing way beyond that. As interest rates rise to more normal historical levels, interest payments on the debt will increase by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This will almost surely lead to a severe fiscal crisis in the relatively near future, causing huge damage to our economy, unless we make major changes in current policy.
Social issues are much different. They will eventually get resolved through the normal political process. Mass shootings in the U.S., for example, are intolerable to an overwhelming majority of Americans. If the NRA continues to oppose sensible changes in gun regulations, then many of its Republican supporters will eventually be replaced by Democrats who will enact the needed changes.
Conclusion. Our rapidly growing national debt will lead fairly soon to an existential crisis if left unattended to. The problem of mass shootings (as an example of a festering social problem) will be resolved by normal political processes.