America’s Most Serious Problem: Excessive and Growing Debt

 

I know that I repeat myself a lot. I am a fiscal conservative and social moderate.  This puts me in the middle of the political spectrum from left to right.  I support social welfare programs if they are legitimately helping the less fortunate among us.  I am especially supportive of programs for African-Americans because of the racial bias they experience.


Unfortunately our national leaders have collectively lost a sense of fiscal responsibility in recent years.  Looking at the standard debt chart (above) produced by the Congressional Budget Office, it is clear that indifference to debt commenced under President Reagan and has waxed and waned ever since.  The debt has been growing especially fast ever since the Great Recession in 2008 and now stands at 77% of GDP, the highest since the end of WWII.  Shrinking the debt (as a percentage of GDP) is now America’s most urgent problem.


As I have discussed before, it is the entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as interest payments on our increasing debt which will continue to worsen the debt problem in the coming years  without strong corrective action.
All entitlement programs need to be reformed to impose cost control. Right now the two healthcare bills in Congress propose that the funding mechanism for Medicaid be changed so that it will be on a fixed (federal) budget from now on, rather than be continued in its current open-ended form.
Medicare is an even more expensive program than Medicaid.  It would be better to fix both of these programs at the same time, but it is better to fix Medicaid alone than to do nothing at all.
It would be even better to replace our employer provided healthcare system with a uniform, but limited, health insurance tax credit for all (including for the self-employed) and to make all of these major changes at the same time.  This would be the fairest way to proceed.

Conclusion. The current GOP plan to curtail healthcare costs could be much improved.  It is only a small step in the right direction.

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Looking for Help!

 

America is in a tough position at the present time, both economically and fiscally.  Our economy is stuck in a slow growth mode of 2% per year, ever since the end of the recession four years ago.  The unemployment rate, now 7.6%, is dropping only very slowly which means many millions of people are either unemployed or underemployed.  Our national debt, now almost $17 trillion, is still growing rapidly.  As interest rates increase and return to normal levels, as they may be starting to do already, just paying the interest on this enormous debt load will take an increasingly large portion of government revenues in the years ahead.  At the same time entitlement spending, on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, is also increasing rapidly.  It is absolutely essential for our national leaders to strongly focus on finding solutions for these escalating problems and only a few of them, but not nearly enough, are making a concerted effort to do this.
I am trying to do something about these critical and urgent problems.  First of all, I challenged the incumbent Congressman for Nebraska’s Second District, Lee Terry, in the Republican Primary in May 2012, but to no avail as he was easily re-nominated and then re-elected in November 2012.
After the 2012 elections I set up a blog: https://itdoesnotaddup.com/ to address these critical national issues and to propose ways of addressing them.  There are over fifty individual posts by now which go into much detail on possible actions that could be taken at the national level to make more progress on all of these matters.  But I need to reach a wider audience and to create a greater sense of the eminent danger we are in if we don’t take our current situation more seriously.
I have employed a graphic designer to come up with a new and more exciting logo and website to hopefully create more visibility for what I am doing.  Take a look: http://thebudgetjack.com/.  I am also looking for one or more people to help out with new content for the new website.  Perhaps it could be authoring a separate but related series of blog posts on these same issues.  Or perhaps by contributing a new feature to the website which would never occur to me on my own.
If you have any ideas about any of these things, please let me know.  I am easy to reach at jackheidel@yahoo.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

What is America’s Biggest Problem?

 

I’d like to do things differently on Memorial Day and ask you to say what you think our biggest national problem is at the present time.  If you have been following this blog for a while, you can probably guess what my own answer is.  But I will not answer directly, at least not yet.   However I will respond to your comments and give you my take on your answer.  Later on I’ll give you my own answer to the question. I hope to hear back from you!