It doesn't take an expert to realize that the national debt is the single most challenging problem facing our country at this time in history. During the election of 2008 McCain "suspended" his campaign to focus on the economy. Gas was $4.00 per gallon; the rate of unemployment was frightening; Wall Street was a disaster; banks were in crisis; the auto industry was on the verge of bankruptcy; and health care in the United States was more expensive than in virtually any other country in the world. In 2008, the combination of George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and the economy, were a fatal combination for the Republican Party. The national debt has now increased. If we are to have a chance of saving the country, it is incumbent upon each of us to understand how we got here, and took look for committed leaders to solve our economic challenges.
Students of history know that certain facts are incontrovertible:
1. Our nation began its existence in debt as a result of the Revolutionary War.
2. Before Jackson left office he was successful in reducing the national debt to $18,000.
3. The national debt has increased as a result of every major war. The national debt has virtually never been reduced since Jackson.
4. Since 1946, Democratic presidents increased the national debt by an average of 3.2% per year.
5. Since 1946 Republican presidents have increased the national debt by an average of 9.2% per year.
6. Republican presidents, Reagan, Bush, and Bush II raised the debt an average of 10.8% per year. That means that for every dollar a Democratic President raised the national debt in the last 30 years, Republican presidents have raised the debt by $2.52.
7. Since 1961 the debt of the United States has never been reduced.
8. The United States is borrowing more money than all other nations on Earth combined.
9. The national debt has grown and continues to grow at an unsustainable rate.
10. In the past 60 years, when the Republicans were in control of the presidency and both Houses of Congress, neither debt nor government spending was reduced. Both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for the national debt. "We the people" have been the beneficiaries of this spending.
12. For the 2010 budget the following costs are incontrovertible:
13. Studies have shown that 5% of Medicare patients who die each year account for 30% of Medicare's costs, with 75% of the expenses of the last year of life occurring in the month before death. This translates into roughly $226 billion which represents dollars spent during the last year of life for medical treatment of people on Medicare. Of that $226 billion dollars, $169 billion is spent in the month before death.
15. As of April 1st 2010, the federal government spent $202 Billion on interest payments alone.
Given this historical analysis, it seems there is little about which informed people might argue.
1. The debt of the United States is unsustainable.
2. The solution to the economic woes of our country will require the cooperation of the President and both Houses of Congress, and elected officials, regardless of their political party, who are committed to finding solutions to economic challenges facing the country, instead of increasing their own personal wealth.
3. Increasing military spending, increasing entitlements, and cutting taxes are inconsistent with reducing the national debt.
Sarah Palin has branded herself as a "fiscal conservative." How many times have we heard Ex-Governor Palin giving a speech about cutting taxes, increasing military spending, and concurrently reducing the national debt, without offering any explanation about how anyone could possibly accomplish those conflicting goals? Of course the minor details of implementing such an economic philosophy are not her concern since she has divorced herself from any responsibility for governance of any portion of the country. Isn't it ironic that people pay large sums of money to hear her talk about reducing the national debt, while the debt increases each day along with Palin's bank account? At the end of the speech the audience lacks any idea about how these conflicting goals could possibly be achieved, but they are more adamant than ever that the government should be able to accomplish the goal, because Sarah said it was so. Sarah Palin has become a millionaire, while our country sinks further in debt. Who would disagree with a pretty lady when she says that we should lower taxes, protect our country from foreign enemies, and balance the budget? Divine intervention is the only answer that Palin offers to accomplish her goals. She is right about that. She has also figured out how to suggest a solution to the financial crisis that would not negatively impact anyone. If God could save us, then we don't have to make any hard choices. A miracle is the only solution to our national debt if we are unwilling to make some hard choices. The problem is that if divine intervention was the answer, it seems like God would have intervened long before now. Patience is a virtue, but if God was going to save us, surely it wouldn't take him more than 200 years.
In the past it would have been political suicide for any politician to express a desire to limit or reduce Medicare, and/or social security, and/or to increase taxes. People with the money are the ones funding the political campaigns, so who would win an election by advocating an increase in taxes? People supported by social security and Medicare represent a substantial voting block. If those senior citizens are not going to live to realize the consequences of the financial catastrophe we will face if the debt is not addressed, why would they vote to elect a candidate who would negatively impact the limited life they have left?
Because Sarah Palin is no longer a politician, and because she doesn't articulate a specific plan for implementing any policies she promotes, the only yard stick available is her record as an elected official. As mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin inherited a town with NO debt and left the town in debt in excess of $22,000,000. Certainly that would not be consistent with my definition of a fiscal conservative. When Palin resigned as Governor, Alaska was the state with a 70% debt to GDP ratio, which was the highest state debt burden in the country. Palin advertised herself as a politician opposed to earmarks. The reality is that before she resigned as Governor, she requested $198 million in earmarks for Alaska. While mayor of Wasilla, a town of 6,715 people, Palin hired a lobbyist, which led to the tiny town of Wasilla receiving almost $27,000,000 in federal tax dollars. Either Sarah Palin doesn't understand what an earmark is or she's lying.
This doesn't sound like "common sense" to me; it sounds like a celebrity attempting to increase her personal wealth at the expense of America. If we are truly patriots, we must learn to recognize the motivations of people who are happy to take advantage of our fellow citizens.
Republicans, Democrats, and even Tea Baggers are all responsible for our national debt. Republicans have been associated with increases in military spending. Democrats have been associated with increases in entitlements. Even Tea Baggers have demonstrated their objection to governmental spending while advocating for more defense spending, and displaying signs suggesting that we should not touch their social security or Medicare.
The only commitment Sarah Palin seems to have is the commitment to increasing the balance in her personal bank account as fast as she can. Palin suggests that the current national budget is "immoral" and constitutes "generational theft". The only thing truly "immoral" is lying to people about being opposed to earmarks, when you hired a lobbyist to obtain earmarks, and received over $26,000,000 of our federal tax dollars in earmarks. The only "generational theft" that I have seen is the use of Palin's own PAC funds, which were donated by retired people, that Palin ultimately used for her personal benefit.
Most politicians are quick to say that the debt is "unsustainable." Yet who have you seen that is willing to run on a platform of raising taxes, reducing entitlements, or reducing military spending? Sarah Palin is the worst offender. She intentionally misleads and/or lies. She chose to remove herself from a political position where she might actually have had a chance to facilitate change. She is quick to criticize those with more education and experience than she, suggesting that they must not be praying hard enough to be worthy of divine intervention. Thus to criticize Sarah Palin is perceived by some as criticizing God. The only divine intervention for which I pray for is the recognition of the hypocrisy of Sarah Palin. The United States desperately needs solutions, and politicians willing to do that which is necessary to facilitate them. Sarah Palin is no longer a politician. She is a wealthy celebrity. If Lady Gaga were to become an advocate for a political ideology, her celebrity status would suffer. Lady Gaga has the common sense to limit her performances to singing. Unfortunately Sarah Palin lacks common sense, though she does have a lot of personal cents.