Like Enron, Greece, and Donald Trump before us, America is about to go bankrupt. Unfortunately, our bankruptcy will probably be more Enron and less Donald Trump because we’re very unlikely to come back bigger and better in the lifetime of anyone reading this column. Instead, most Americans are probably going to experience skyrocketing taxes, spiraling inflation, widespread disorder, and a dramatically reduced standard of living.
This isn’t a crisis that our great-grandchildren will have to figure out one day. To the contrary, it’s entirely possible it will occur within the next decade and unless we make big changes no one in DC is even seriously discussing right now, it’s more likely than not that it will transpire within the next 20 years. America doesn’t have to go bankrupt and it wouldn’t if the American people were to rise up and demand serious action, but sadly, most Americans are too intimidated by the size and scope of the problem to demand major changes to the irresponsible way the government does business.
Without the American people insisting that Congress move, the Republicans have shown that they’re not serious about dealing with the deficit and the Democrats remain so intent on increasing spending that they wouldn’t be behaving much differently if their goal was to create a debt-driven economic collapse. Our nation’s future is slipping away right in front of us and that’s why it’s important for those of us who care about our nation’s future to point out quotes like these while we still have a short window of time where we can make a difference. Those of us who love this country need the American people to stand up, speak out, and force our government to behave responsibly before it’s too late.
1) What would you think of a person who earned $24,000 a year but spent $35,000? Suppose on top of that, he was already $170,000 in debt. You’d tell him to get his act together — stop spending so much or he’d destroy his family, impoverish his kids and wreck their future. Of course, no individual could live so irresponsibly for long. But tack on eight more zeroes to that budget and you have the checkbook for our out-of-control, big-spending federal government. — John Stossel
2) John Kitchen of the U.S. Treasury and Menzie Chinn of the University of Wisconsin published a study in 2010 entitled: Financing U.S. Debt: Is There Enough Money in the World — and At What Cost? The fact that sane men are even asking this question ought to be deeply disturbing. As to the answer, foreign official holdings of U.S. Treasury securities have usually been less than 5 percent of the rest of the world’s GDP. By 2009, they were up to 7 percent. By 2020, Kitchen and Chinn project them to rise to 19 percent of the rest of the world’s GDP, which they say is….do-able. Whether the rest of the world will want to do it is another matter. A future that presumes the rest of the planet will sink a fifth of its GDP into U.S. Treasuries is no future at all. But on Big Government’s streetcar named Desire we have come to depend on the kindness of strangers. — Mark Steyn
3) The Federal Reserve is propping up the entire U.S. economy by buying 61 percent of the government debt issued by the Treasury Department, a trend that cannot last, Lawrence Goodman, a former Treasury official and current president of the Center for Financial Stability, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion article published Wednesday. — Newsmax
4) In fact, in 2006, the Census Bureau found only 2.2 million households earning more than $250,000. And most of those are closer to the Lubbock city manager than to Carlos Slim, income-wise. To jump from the 50th to the 51st percentile isn’t that tough; jumping from the 96th to the 97th takes a lot of schmundo. It’s lonely at the top. But say we wanted to balance the budget by jacking up taxes on Club 250K. That’s a problem: The 2012 deficit is forecast to hit $1.1 trillion under Obama’s budget. (Thanks, Mr. President!) Spread that deficit over all the households in Club 250K and you have to jack up their taxes by an average of $500,000 — which you simply can’t do, since a lot of them don’t have $500,000 in income to seize. Most of them are making $250,000 to $450,000 and paying about half in taxes already. You can squeeze that goose all day, but that’s not going to make it push out a golden egg. ….Every time you raise the threshold for eating the rich, you get a much, much smaller serving of meat on the plate — but the deficit stays the same. The long division gets pretty ugly. You end up chasing a revenue will-o’-the-wisp. — Kevin Williamson
5) Within a decade, the United States will be spending more of the federal budget on its interest payments than on its military. You read that right: more on debt service than on the armed services. According to the CBO’s 2010 long-term budget outlook, by 2020 the government will be paying between 15 and 20 percent of its revenues in debt interest. Whereas defense spending will be down between 14 and 16 percent. — Mark Steyn
6) (In Pennsylvania, a) single mom is better off earning gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.” — From Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
7) For every 1.65 employed persons in the private sector, 1 person receives welfare assistance. For every 1.25 employed persons in the private sector, 1 person receives welfare assistance or works for the government. …The punchline: 110 million privately employed workers; 88 million welfare recipients and government workers and rising rapidly. — Tyler Durden
8) My name’s Ronnie Bryant, and I’m a mine operator…. I’ve been issued a [state] permit in the recent past for [waste water] discharge, and after standing in this room today listening to the comments being made by the people…. [pause] Nearly every day without fail — I have a different perspective — men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car note. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just … you know … what’s the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I don’t know. I mean, I see these guys — I see them with tears in their eyes — looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stood against the wall here today, basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you. — Ronnie Bryant
9) Wyatt Emerich of The Cleveland Current analyzes disposable income and economic benefits among several key income classes and comes to the stunning (and verifiable) conclusion that “a one-parent family of three making $14,500 a year (minimum wage) has more disposable income than a family making $60,000 a year.
10) The typical husband and wife who reach age 66 and qualify for Social Security — Starting next year, this typical couple, receiving the average benefit, will begin collecting a combination of cash and health-care entitlement benefits that will total $1 million over their remaining expected lifetime According to my calculations based on government data, such married couples will begin receiving monthly Social Security checks that will, on average, total about $550,000 after inflation. They will receive health-care services paid for by Medicare that, on average, will total another $450,000 after inflation. The benefactors will be a generation of younger workers who are trying to support themselves and their families while paying taxes to finance the rest of government spending. …Medicare premiums paid by senior citizens once covered half of the cost of physician and related services. They now cover one-fourth. Copayments once covered nearly 40% of these services’ costs. They now cover only 20%. — Joe Cogan
11) The CBO numbers foresee net interest payments rising from 9 percent of revenue to 36 percent in 2030, then to 58 percent in 2040, and up to 85 percent in 2050. If that trajectory holds, we’ll be spending more than the planet’s entire military budget on debt interest. But forget mid-century because, unless something changes, whatever goes by the name of “America” under those conditions isn’t worth talking about. — Mark Steyn
12) The total present value of payments expected under Social Security and Medicare beyond what is expected to be collected under current tax laws is about $100 trillion. One way to put that amount of money in context is to note that it is about twice the amount of all the net private assets that exist in America today. To answer cw’s question directly, the best back-of-envelope estimate is that meeting this unfunded portion of our Social Security and Medicare commitments would require roughly an immediate 80 percent increase in federal income taxes, sustained forever. — Jim Manzi
13) The total fiscal overhang of our federal, state, and local governments — their combined debt and unfunded liabilities — is around $140 trillion, and growing. That is about twice the annual economic output of human civilization, and nearly the value of all the financial assets in the world. It is something close to a mathematical certainty that those debts and obligations will not be made good on at their present value. — Kevin Williamson