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.
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 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.
A Letter from Birmingham Jail Why we cannot wait Martin Luther King, Jr., April 16, 1963
Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day and every year at this time we are reminded of his eloquent letter from the Birmingham Jail, “Why we cannot wait,” written to some of his hesitant supporters in the Spring of 1963.
African-Americans were tired of waiting so long for equal rights in their own country. On my own personal scale, I am so frustrated by the inability of our political system to address our massive debt problem, that I am getting organized to enter the 2018 Nebraska Republican Senate Primary against the incumbent Deb Fischer who has just voted (with the new tax law) to increase our debt by $1 trillion over the next decade.
Basically I am saying that our debt is so large and growing so fast that it will soon be out of control if we don’t take action to start reducing it very soon.
The public debt (on which we pay interest) is now 77% of GDP, the highest since WWII, and projected by the Congressional Budget Office to keep getting steadily worse. It will grow by $11.5 trillion in just 10 years to almost 100% of GDP and will reach 150% of GDP, double the current level, by 2047, without major changes in current policy.
A fiscal crisis, much worse than the Financial Crisis of 2008, will occur long before 2047 if nothing is done to greatly shrink our annual deficits which are again rapidly approaching the trillion dollar per year level.
The new tax law increases deficits by an average of $100 billion per year, and therefore makes it that much harder to shrink them down substantially. It is imperative for the two parties, Democrats and Republicans, to work together to figure out how to do this.
Conclusion. Our national debt is so large and growing so fast that it is virtually out of control. We need prompt and fairly strong action to turn the situation around. I have often discussed one major way to do this.
Six years ago I was a candidate for the Republican nomination for Nebraska’s Second District Congressional seat. I lost in the May 2012 Primary. After the November 2012 national election I began writing this blog It Does Not Add Up focused on fiscal and economic issues, mainly our large and rapidly growing national debt. I have now been blogging on this issue for over five years and the debt problem is just getting worse and worse. Here is where we are right now:
All 52 Republican Senators voted for the new tax law which, in spite of its beneficial tax reforms, adds $1 trillion to our debt over the next decade (after growth is taken into account).
The Congressional Budget Office projects our debt to grow by $11.5 over the next ten years. In FY2019, just one year from now, CBO projects the deficit will exceed will exceed $1 trillion and equal 4.7% of GDP. By 2047 federal debt will reach 150% of GDP, almost double the current 77%.
In our polarized Congress, Republicans insist on increasing defense spending, Democrats insist on increasing domestic spending and trying to put any limits on entitlement spending is very difficult. Republicans are willing to cut taxes but there is little enthusiasm for raising them.
The present stalemate will eventually lead to a new fiscal crisis, much worse than the Financial Crisis of 2008, without major changes in current policy. The thought of having to drastically cut many different spending programs in the middle of a huge fiscal crisis is horrifying.
Are there any alternatives? Calling a Constitutional Convention for balancing the budget, establishing term limits and/or limiting Congressional power (Convention of States), have created much interest but are long shots which may never happen.
Conclusion. Somehow or other we need to light a fire under enough members of Congress to persuade them to take our rapidly accumulating debt very seriously. Let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are willing to work with me to do something along these lines!
In a few days I expect to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Deb Fischer. She is running for reelection and apparently is quite popular in Nebraska. But she has one huge liability as far as I’m concerned. First of all, she is a big spender. But now as well she has just voted for the new tax law which will increase our debt by $1 trillion over the next decade. In other words she is flagrantly guilty of ignoring our very serious debt problem even as it continues to get worse.
People sometimes ask me why I am so fixated on the debt. After all, there are plenty of other important issues that we should be concerned about. The answer is that uncontrolled debt affects almost everything else government does because as interest rates increase, eventually interest payments on the debt will skyrocket.
Defense spending, so critical to our role as the world’s major superpower, which maintains peace and stability in the world, will be threatened.
Run-away inflation is likely to result from the buildup of the debt bubble and this will erode the economic security which is so important to our way of life.
The international standing of the dollar, so critical to our leadership role in the financial world, will be weakened.
Spending for programs such as education, research and infrastructure, so important to our quality of life, will be threatened.
By focusing so strongly on the debt issue, hopefully I will be able to persuade large numbers of people that I am really serious about taking strong action to address it effectively.
Conclusion. There are lots of issues which will come up on the campaign trail in a Senate race. But my campaign will be focused on our gigantic debt problem. If we can’t get our debt under control, then our entire way of life is threatened. It is that simple.
“I think this level of national debt is dangerous and unacceptable. My preference on tax reform is that it be revenue neutral. What I’m hoping we will avoid is a trillion dollar stimulus. Take you back to 2009. We borrowed $1 trillion and nobody could find that it did much of anything. So we need to do this carefully and correctly, and the issue of how to pay for it needs to be dealt with responsibly”
The world has seen remarkable human progress over the past 200 years. What has brought this about is specialization and trade, i.e. economic growth.
Since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, economic growth in the U.S. has averaged just 2.1%, a remarkably slow recovery by historical standards. This has led to stagnant wage growth especially for blue collar workers. Finally growth is up over 3% for the past two quarters and wage growth is surging.
The U.S. corporate tax rate at 35% is not internationally competitive and encourages multinational corporations to move their operations overseas. A lower rate of 20% or so would encourage U.S. multinationals to bring their profits home and also encourage foreign companies to set up shop in the U.S.
What all of this means is that we still need tax reform (i.e. lower tax rates) but not fiscal stimulus.
The Republican tax plan now moving through Congress will increase our already outrageously excessive debt by $1 trillion over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the official scorekeeper for the U.S. Senate.
The Republican Congress will be making a huge mistake by implementing the current plan which has now passed both the House and the Senate. The GOP will no longer be able to make a credible case that it is the party of fiscal responsibility.
Conclusion. With a (public, on which we pay interest) debt of $15 trillion, and growing rapidly, the U.S. is approaching fiscal insolvency. The Republican tax plan will add an additional $1 trillion to this debt over the next ten years. This is unconscionable behavior.
Americans are a very fortunate people. We are protected by two oceans and friendly neighbors to our north and south. We are the strongest country in the world, both economically and militarily. We provide the world with cutting edge leadership in many areas such as technology, finance, energy production, scientific research and university education.
In short we live in a very successful, prosperous and complex society. We do have serious problems but they are being addressed by our elaborate legal and governmental processes and structures. Slowly but surely life in America is getting better and better all the time.
Given our country’s size, complexity and dominance in the world, it is inevitable that government will also grow in size and structure in order to take on new responsibilities. It is completely unrealistic to think that we can return to a more limited form of government that existed in the past.
When I say, then, that I’m a fiscal conservative, I am not advocating for less government but merely that we pay for the government that we have, in other words, act in a fiscally responsible manner.
And we are not doing this at the present time:
Our national debt, now 77% of GDP (for the public debt on which we pay interest), is the highest since right after WWII. It is predicted by the Congressional Budget Office that it will keep steadily getting worse without major changes in current policy.
The urgency of the debt problem is based on the fact that interest rates are now so low that it is almost “free” money. But interest rates will inevitably return to more normal historical levels and, when this happens, interest payments on the debt will skyrocket. Eventually this will lead to a Fiscal Crisis, much worse than the Financial Crisis of 2008.
The solution to this problem need not be drastic. Federal spending is growing by 5% per year while tax revenues are growing by 3% per year. If we would just hold spending increases down to 2.5% per year, the federal budget would be balanced in a few years and our debt would start shrinking as a percentage of GDP.
Conclusion. Spending restraint, with very few actual spending cuts, is all that it will take to put our debt problem on a path to solution. Surely we are capable of acting in a fiscally responsible manner like this!