Have you looked at the national debt clock lately? It has a handy “time machine” feature (top right corner) that is frightening in what it portends for our federal budget if we continue with our out-of-control federal spending. While 2010 looks pretty bad, with a national debt of $13.7 trillion, the clock projects $17.4 trillion in 2015. Our largest areas of federal spending, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, amount to $1.4 trillion today and are set to balloon to $1.9 trillion in just five short years!
So let’s finally face it: “We the People” are responsible for this federal government and we must hold ourselves accountable to clean up the runaway spending. That includes each of us making hard decisions about programs we have come to rely upon and now feel “entitled” to as a society. We own all of the present and future debt created by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, military programs, unemployment, food stamps, tax breaks, pension guarantees, college financial aid, farm subsidies, bridges to nowhere, cash for clunkers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government motors, a federal payroll of 4.6 million, and so much more. Many of us have made painful decisions to pare down our family budgets, giving up restaurant meals and expensive gadgets, but we need to do this on a grand scale with our federal government budget.
On November 2 the Republican Congress we collectively elected is pledging to try to help us change this dangerous course starting in January. Congressman Eric Cantor provided a preview of his plans with his letter to fellow Republicans released on Wednesday, covered in articles by Politico and the Richmond Times Dispatch.
As part of his bid for a Majority Leader position Mr. Cantor presented “Delivering on our Commitment: a Majority to Limit Government and Create Jobs,” which starts off well. Republicans, he writes, “must govern differently. Not just differently than the Democrats, but differently from our previous majority.”
The plan includes ideas for reforming the way Congress does business, with several opportunities for citizen participation. However, as nice as Cantor’s “YouCut” plan for spending cuts looks in a chart, with $161.5 billion in savings over several years, it is just a drop in an ocean of red ink. The Congressman admits that he doesn’t “believe that President Obama will work with us to enact real entitlement reform unless it includes major tax increases.”
Even more telling is a “fast fact” (source unknown) that claims that “over two-thirds of Republican voters believe the budget can be balanced without reducing spending on Social Security or Medicare.” Really? How?
Are we destined to go back to a future that we created and will not give up? Will there be riots in the streets a la France, where workers are enraged over retirement at age 62 instead of 60?
Many of us have a different vision for the future of our country. When government handouts stop, entrepreneurs have a chance to fill the gap. Just imagine how many jobs we would create if Uncle Sam got out of the retirement and health insurance businesses altogether!
As we endure the lame duck session of Congress and try to mitigate the further damage it will likely do to the federal bottom line, let’s keep our pocket Constitutions close to our hearts. Guided by principles outlined in our Tea Party Code of Conduct, we need to take a good long look at ALL federal government programs. This will help steer our course back to an American future envisioned by the Founding Fathers.