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In our opinion: Taming federal spending

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  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 1:17 a.m.

    Why do they keep calling it a debt ceiling?

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 6:54 a.m.

    It is just such commen sense that any person who works for money, needs money, or spends money should understand. Whether Democrat, Republican, or Communist, everyone should see that it is impossible for anyone, or any government, to continue to borrow and increase a debt forever. So when will any of our leaders in Congress or the White House, with the exception of people like Mike Lee, finally realize that something has to be done to stop this expanding debt? If it isn't stopped by us, it will be stopped by a financial meltdown with inflation looking like Germany in the 1930s. And some of you might actually remember what came out of that. History repeats itself.

  • Mountanman Victor, ID
    Feb. 14, 2014 7:07 a.m.

    Before I die, I would like to meet ONE Democrat politician that cares about the national debt! They don't care but our children and grandchildren will care. What is our entitlement greed doing to their futures?

  • JKR Holladay, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 7:28 a.m.

    "Using the debt ceiling as a political football is telling the American people that this country’s full faith and credit can be sacrificed, and that’s not irresponsible." Huh? That is too irresponsible. This must be a typo.

    And I agree, it's time for everyone to get together and rein in social security and medicare. Our politicians are chickens. Don't join the AARP until they get reasonable. And to the majority of well off older persons, be willing to give up some benefits for the fiscal health of the country.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 7:46 a.m.

    I echo "Nate", from Pleasant Grove, who asks why we still call this a debt "ceiling".

    Referring to this completely meaningless number as a ceiling or limit while routinely ignoring what both those terms are meant to imply (a point beyond which we will not go) is now far beyond being the almost comical example of irresponsibility that some comedians used as joke fodder 30+ years ago.

    Now, with a debt exceeding 17 **trillion** dollars (not including "entitlement" debt, which would raise it to beyond 100 **trillion**) and steadily climbing, it is a Damoclean sword, ready to smite us for our chronic fiscal imprudence.

    Our continuing dishonesty and denial are no defense for the inevitable economic calamity that is absolutely inevitable unless we reverse our course. I desperately hope we do. But, if only for the sake of honesty, I must admit I doubt we will.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 14, 2014 8:07 a.m.

    Hello Mountanman, I'm Pragmatist. Nice to meet you. I to care about the debt, and guess what most democrats do care. We care differently than you do, so maybe that counts as not caring, I don't know.

    First of all from a national perspective it's not true that a debt can't continue to grow forever. It doesn't mean it should, it just can, if the GDP continues to grow.

    As a nation's citizenry continues to grow and an economy continues to change entitlements will always be "unsustainable" if you look far enough out. Again it doesn't mean they are bad or faulty it simply is a snapshot of a moving object compared to a static process.

    There are all kinds of levers to pull to re-adjust such a situation. It's just the conversation about which lever to pull and how much, needs to be had within the realm of reality, and that's the issue with likes of the tea party.

    They are fighting two hundred old wars within the walls of a made up world.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 8:15 a.m.

    Was there any mention of revenue reform in this article? How can you discuss debt reduction without mentioning how revenues are collected and how much is needed? I'm all for Mike Lee pushing the issue of debt but let's not forget his and Ted Cruz's foolish strategy last Fall cost this country over 25 BILLION dollars. Not since Bill Clinton's passage of his 1992 Deficit plan(which not one Republican voted for) has there been a serious effort by Washington to reign in our Debt. A leader has to lead and Mike Lee has not been able to do that. So far, outside of BO and Ted Cruz he's been one of the most divise, do nothing members of Congress.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Feb. 14, 2014 8:18 a.m.

    There is no doubt that the GOP is to blame for our debt problems, but it isn't the current crop of radical right wingers that are to blame.

    The GOP needs to remove the historical blinders and review the well documented monetary failures of the Bush/Cheney administration.

    It will take more than Obama's 8 years to repair the Republican damage.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    What's wrong with raising taxes?

    If we want to resolve our national debt then we need to stop playing around and realize that a tax increase is necessary.

  • UTCProgress American Fork, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 8:37 a.m.

    FT has hit the nail on the head. There will be no debt reduction without revenue reform. Looking at historical tax revenue as a fraction of GDP, we (the United States) are collecting almost 5 basis points to little in taxes. For example, during the God of all Republicans (Ronald Regan's) administration, the federal government collected an average of 18.5% of GDP in taxes. During the entirety of the horrible socialist Barak Obama's we are averaging just over 15.5% of GDP in tax collection. All while dealing with a much larger (as a percentage of the total population) population of retirees using Social Security and Medicare. The editors of this paper are as foolish as the general public when it comes to federal debt. There are two ways to lower debt (although you would never hear it from the clowns who run this paper); you can reduce spending or you can increase revenue (or both if you really want to bring the debt down fast). I would really love to see an adult discussion that includes both options. Unfortunately, all you will ever hear from Republics is "cut spending, cut spending!!!"

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 8:51 a.m.

    Prag....
    Our debt right now is surpassing GDP

    FT
    I'm glad that you at least recognize that BO is very divisive.

    Lib Larry
    Almost too wrong to even comment on. But here goes. Since 2009 Obama and Congress have added 7 trillion to the debt. The Dems have been a HUGE part of our debt problems.

    Real Mav
    You could tax all the billionaires, and millionaires 100% and hardly even touch the trillions of dollars we have in debt.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 14, 2014 8:57 a.m.

    An excellent opinion piece.

    We do need to get our house in order. That must include entitlements to be meaningful at all. And sidestepping the foolish brinkmanship of the past year or two was essential.

    Two additional points.

    First, the bad blood created over the past few years is a serious problem. Nobody wants to consider doing anything that originates from the other side of the aisle. Besides the sheer question of votes (you need a majority to pass legislation) this is really too bad - because both sides have good ideas (once you get the shouters to sit and be quiet in a corner somewhere).

    Second, as mentioned by FT above, we need to consider revenues. Much of that could likely be handled by simply patching many of the holes in the current tax law and making the effective tax rate closer to the nominal tax rate.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 9:24 a.m.

    Barack has added as much to the national debt as almost all past presidents combined.

    And he still thinks he's not spending enough

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 9:34 a.m.

    Our monetary system is debt based. It always has to expand otherwise monetary contraction will occur.

    The only way to solve this, is to move to a debt free based monetary system.

  • Ronnie W. Layton, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    @LiberalLarry

    Our kids deserve more than this. Every discussion can't degrade into "He started it!" If we continue to care more about the blame game than the present opportunity to fix the problem, we will never get anywhere. Obama hasn't done anything to fix the debt problem. Even if Bush has started it, Obama has been every bit has reckless.

  • UTAH Bill Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 9:39 a.m.

    A major problem is states, like Utah, demand the feds spend money. But, of course, we want other states to have fed funding cuts - but not us. Look what happens every time cutbacks at HAFB are proposed. Our leaders spring into action to keep the money coming in. Utah is a welfare state. It receives more in fed funds than it pays into the system. WE are the problem.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Feb. 14, 2014 9:45 a.m.

    Obama is taking a measured approach to reducing the debt. The deficit has dropped every year of his administration. As to the big 2009 outlay, sometimes you have to borrow a lot to save yourself from disaster. Then you pay it off gradually. That's the way we all work. No need to panic as long as GDP continues to grow.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 9:57 a.m.

    Re: "Why do they keep calling it a debt ceiling"? (Nate)

    Because it limits how much the government can borrow in our name.

    We may keep changing what the limit is... but it's still a "ceiling"/upper-limit. The current ceiling/limit prevents the government from borrowing more, when that limit has been reached. Then they have to fight to get more money from their mom's purse.

    But I acknowledge that we will always just increase it.

    ===

    RE: "What's wrong with raising taxes?" (Maverick)

    You evidently don't think things through. Every tax increase takes money out of the economy (and puts it into the Government). A tax increase means people have less to spend every 2 weeks. That means business have their revenue cut by that percentage. So profits dip. So people get layed-off. Those people have no income to tax, and instead drain the government coffers.

    So if you think it through... in the long run you have less working people to tax, less sales to tax, less investing to tax... so LESS Tax revenue overall, if you just raise taxes every time you want more money.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 10:03 a.m.

    Are you kidding! What is this, Saturday Night Live?

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 10:06 a.m.

    Let's translate the "debt ceiling" debate into terms we can understand.

    Your friend has gone to Wendover, and spent every dollar they have gambling. They have maxed out their credit cards, mortgaged their house, hocked the family jewels, and put their car up for collateral. It is obvious they have a gambling addiction problem.

    Now, you want to help them overcome their problem. As a good friend, you can either (a) loan them a million dollars, or (b) drag them out of the casino and force them to stop gambling.

    Well, Congress chose to loan themselves another million dollars (borrowed from their children's credit card, by the way...)

    We need some adults in Congress who recognize that the problem is not the amount of money being borrowed, but the amount being spent.

    Some say just raise taxes. Well, every time in the past they have promised to cut spending if taxes were raised, the tax increase happened, but none of the spending cuts. Fool me once...

    Stop the spending, and borrowing, and pay off the debt!

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 10:23 a.m.

    The last successful fiscally conservative president was, in my opinon, Andrew Jackson who gave us a responsible economy based on real money and who worked to successfully bring an end to "national" banking which sadly was re-introduced in 1913.

    Reagan had some good ideas and he did put Social Security on a sound footing by supporting an increase of the contributions of those who would benefit in the future from the program, and also by encouraging the increase of the age of retirement to 66 and 67 in the future. Both of these became law. Social Security contributions would keep the program sound until 2030 or thereabouts, although government embezzling and a falling birthrate, has jeopardized these "savings" of the people for their old age, based on the way the program is administered de facto. Reagan could not, of course, introduce money bills for Congress; that can only be done by the House. He had little control of their activities and his veto could be overridden.

  • kiddsport Fairview, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 11:09 a.m.

    Let's not forget there are three culprits in the debt/deficit predicament- the House, the Senate, and the President, and they all are culpable. And here are the real deficit statistics:
    FY 2013: $680 billion
    FY 2012: $1,087 billion
    FY 2011: $1,300 billion
    FY 2010: $1,294 billion
    FY 2009†: $1,413 billion
    FY 2008: $458 billion
    FY 2007: $161 billion
    FY 2006: $248 billion
    FY 2005: $318 billion
    Saying the 2013 deficit was the lowest it has been since 2008 ignores the fact that it was still higher by nearly 50% and the Obama deficit is 150% higher on average.
    I ranted when Bush signed the first (non)stimulus and we've seen scarce little benefit.
    When the Federal debt exceeds GDP, it means there is no way on earth it can be repaid even if we are all taxed 100%. It's not that hard to understand.
    Democrats refuse to negotiate- Harry Reid won't even pass a budget; Republicans can't scrape together enough backbone to stick to their principles or are themselves culpable of pork.
    Let's start with a fresh batch of congressmen and train them right this time.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 11:10 a.m.

    @Ronnie W.
    "Obama hasn't done anything to fix the debt problem. "

    We have a budget deficit projection of 744 billion for 2014. That's almost half of the 2009 budget year of 1,413 billion.

    @2bits
    "You evidently don't think things through. Every tax increase takes money out of the economy (and puts it into the Government). A tax increase means people have less to spend every 2 weeks. That means business have their revenue cut by that percentage."

    Not exactly. Consider something like unemployment or food stamps, that money gets quickly cycled back into the economy. If you cut gov't spending instead of raising taxes, you're getting the same effect.

    "in the long run you have less working people to tax, less sales to tax, less investing to tax... so LESS Tax revenue overall,"

    The CBO estimates that the Bush tax cuts are reducing revenue by around 400 billion a year. You say we'd see a revenue cut with a tax increase, but what we get is a revenue cut with a tax cut.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 11:22 a.m.

    Liberal Larry, just what has Obama done to reign in anything? What you accuse Bush of doing is a drop in the bucket to the unrestrained spending of the last five years.

    I'm for a balanced budget amendment.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 11:25 a.m.

    So which entitlements are you asking to reform? How much money can be saved? What will be lost and gained? How will it impact the end users? How will it impact the deficit and national debt?

    This is just another cut, cut, cut editorial without any concrete solutions. To paraphrase from another frequent poster - Before I die, I'd like to see one Republican tell me what to cut, how much to cut, and what the impacts will be.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    bungalow

    First off, I for one will be the first Republican to admit that W was very irresponsible with our debt. He crossed the 10 trillion dollar mark in his 8 years. But that doesn't justify Obama taking it to the 17 trillion mark in 6 years.

    And secondly, when talking percentages like 123% or 188%, it really doesn't mean much unless you consider the amount being increased. Increasing a trillion dollars by 123% is much worse than increasing a billion dollars by that much.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 11:39 a.m.

    It's a fact that taxe revenues as a percent of GDP have not been this low since the 1950's. Simply bringing revenue back up to historical averages (18%) and tweaking entitlements and defense solves the problem. If the GOP really was serious about debt reduction they would propose raising revenue as well as restructing entitlements. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 14, 2014 11:41 a.m.

    "There are all kinds of levers to pull to re-adjust such a situation. It's just the conversation about which lever to pull and how much, needs to be had within the realm of reality, and that's the issue with likes of the tea party."

    Here's the reality I was speaking about;;
    1) As someone else said the nation will never be debt free because of both the monetary system and a debt based economy. So get over the rant that we could tax all rich people 100% and never pay back the debt. Taxing the rich is not intended to bring the debt to zero. It's intended to make the debt manageable and less inflationary.

    2)The recession of '08 was a demand recession and nearly wrecked the WORLD economy. Because it was demand based EVERY country that responded with austerity failed and many had double dip recessions. So, the stimulus did in fact prevent a recession, and the ensuing debt was first of all well spent and secondly borrowed at nearly 0% interest. So in order to compare it to any other President you have to dollars plus interest, which no conservative ever does.

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 12:59 p.m.

    It would be unnecessary to default on the interest on the national debt, putting the at risk full faith in US credit. There is plenty of income from taxes to pay far more than the interest on the debt. Th problem is that Congress and the President are unwilling to set a budget that looks at priorities. It is now just a grab bag of political wants. Wants and needs are not even separated.

    Congress is not willing to gore the sacred cows that are eating up our resources without a real return. As long as the voters are not willing to stand against this, not much will change until a serious, and maybe an irreversible economic collapse forces a change.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 14, 2014 1:23 p.m.

    Brer Rabbit,

    Not quite. From a capital markets perspective default is default even if govt. bonds are getting paid if other bills are going unpaid.

    Kind of like a credit score. You have paid your mortgage faithfully. But you are three months behind on your credit card. So . . . your credit score tanks even though you are up-to-date with the mortgage company.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 1:34 p.m.

    The problem is more than spending. Under Obama, the number of civilian government employees is down. The annual debt is down. There are other measures being taken by the Adminstration. Republicans talk a big game, but they oppose cuts in sp[ending programs that help their Districts. But if you want to turn things around, how about a tax increase like Clinton pushed through. Yes, it cost him the House, but the U.S. economy thrived and we experienced surpluses, which were immediately trashed by Bush. I'm telling you, in practice, yes in reality, the GOP is the worst thing in the world for the budget of the U.S. Government and the welfare of the American taxpayer. History shows it very clearly.

  • Mainly Me Werribee, 00
    Feb. 14, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    I have to live within my means. Why can't the government?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 2:27 p.m.

    The problem is... roughly 50% of the population doesn't care one iota about the deficit or the debt at any given time.

    When Republicans are in power... they and their followers don't care.
    When Democrats are in power... THEY and their faithful minions don't care.

    So how do you expect to do anything about it???

    So party in control never cares about the deficit or the debt. And all the minority can do is complain and try to block spending (which is futile since they are in the minority).

    ===

    That's why I think the best situation we can have is... a Democrat President, with a Republican/Conservative/Libertarian or some combination Congress (like we had most of the Clinton administration).

    The Democrat President will have lots of lofty liberal goals... but the Republican Congress will keep him grounded (and entitlement spending a little in control).

    ---

    I also think the best condition for Utah is a Democrat Governor, and a Republican Legislature (to watch him).

    The Governor will have lots of progressive goals (which is good to an extent)... but the Legislature will force him to keep his spending and taxing in control (temper extreme progressive entitlements)

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 14, 2014 2:46 p.m.

    Take Social Security "entitlements" off the table. Those who paid into Social Security were promised that they would receive full benefits when they retired. Their income was not taxed by what they would need, but by what they made. Now the Democrats, who spent the money, want to steal from the "old folks" who were forced to pay into their Ponzi scheme. Take Social Security out of the General Fund. Force those who have spent Social Security funds on non-social security "programs" to repay every dime before spending anything else. Hold hearings and begin prosecutions against those who used Social Security funds to fund "pork".

    Spending must stop. Revenues must increase. When 90% or more of all Americans are working, there will be revenue enough to pay our bills. Reduce or eliminate restrictions on business so that American business can hire Americans. Throw out ObamaCare. Throw out Obama. He caused the mess. Throw out Harry Reid, he refuses to abide by the Constitution. Throw out John Boehner, he cares only for his seat.

    We know what is happening. We, the people, must clean house or perish as a nation.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 3:15 p.m.

    "We agree with those who, like Sen. Lee, believe that permanent structural spending reform is something America desperately needs. " What does this mean? That only spending is the problem - particularly entitlements so-called? If FICA taxes didn't top out at $116,000 of personal income, and higher income income levels were taxed in full, this would greatly alleviate the problem. So it turns out we have a taxation problem in addition to a spending problem.

    Moreover, if taxation was as progressive as it was in the 1950's most of the deficit problem would disappear. Of course the blowback on such a view, and one for which liberals have no answer is: why is it just to tax higher incomes and profits at higher rates?

    The answer to that is right in front of us. The capitalist system itself produces top heavy distributions of income and wealth. It's not because the people at the top levels necessarily work harder than those at lower levels - they don't.

    The Deseret News is advocating for cutting off seniors - face it. You need to think harder about this even if it violates your ideology.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 14, 2014 3:36 p.m.

    Defense spending is an authorized use of funds. At least six of the seventeen enumerated duties of Congress relate to defense. Not one duty of Congress is related to social spending - not one! We can debate which areas of defense spending should be cut, but we cannot demand that defense spending be cut until we first demand that all social spending be eliminated. We have a Constitution where the people have authorized government to use tax dollars for certain purposes. Six of those purposes are for defense. Not one enumerated duty relates to social programs. Not one.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 3:47 p.m.

    bungalow

    595 billion for defense. Our annual budget these days is 3 trillion plus. No way the defense part of the budget is the biggest. Entitlements, SS, Medicare, ect are what laps up the vast majority of that 3 trillion.

    You also said the Republicans win elections by playing the blame game. So who is to blame if Obamacare goes off the rails? Plus, who is to blame for taking the debt from 10 to 17 trillion? If not Obama, then not Bush either. Blame goes to who is in power. That's how American politics works. And why many Democrats who are running for reelection this year are also running away from Obama right now.

  • 2 bit Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 4:28 p.m.

    Defense is just 13% of the budget.

    It's that ALL Democrats can worry about and cut?

    Defense is the Federal Government's JOB! It's the main reason they are there. It's the main reason we are a group of United States (so we can DEFEND each other)!

    Even if you cut Defense 100%... it would only trim 13% off the budget. Even IF we did it (which I hope we don't). How long would it take us to pay off our debt even if we had no military and applied that 13% to paying off our debt?

    We would still NEVER pay it off. That's not the problem!

    Healthcare and pensions are 39% of the budget... why not do something about that?

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 14, 2014 5:19 p.m.

    My word Mr. Richards stop this incessant "the constitution only authorizes" . This is purely your opinion and you lost a hundred years ago. Let it go. We are not going to go back to no social spending.

    Court after court including the Supreme Court has validated this kind of federal spending.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 5:20 p.m.

    @2bits. Our debt can never be paid off. Our monetary system is debt based. Too many people keep advocating for the wrong solution and the wrong solution is thinking we can pay off the debt and be a cash economy. Every dollar in existence is debt or represents debt.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Feb. 14, 2014 5:41 p.m.

    Figure out how to prevent the effects of inflation and population growth on government, then we can talk about having a firm "debt ceiling". Now if they want to have something indexed to population growth and cost of goods.... perhaps. But minus solving those two problems, and ever increasing debt ceiling is a fact of life... and we just need to learn to deal with it intelligently and not emotionally.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 14, 2014 6:02 p.m.

    2 Bits,

    Per the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Defense and defense related spending was 19% of the 2012 budget. I could not find the 2013 figure.

    Not arguing with you - just making a small correction.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 10:45 p.m.

    2bits,

    Your congress/president combination ideas are interesting. If you look at deficits by congressional party, the only congresses that don't grow the deficit by leaps and bounds are controlled by the republican party, although I don't trust the current establishment republicans to carry that torch.

    Mixed congresses have nearly as much debt growth as democrat controlled congresses. Democrat controlled congresses are the biggest debt growers.

    The president is pretty much irrelevant to deficits, except when the congress is mixed. Then he has had more sway. Harry Reid does Obama's bidding at the moment, but it is what Harry wants anyway.

    So if I could choose who wins and who loses, I would choose a republican congress, both houses, and a democrat president.

    Except I don't want Hillary. She should have stood up to her husband when he was, well you know. Surely there is some moderate democrat that is strong, and would behave well while holding the presidential power? Maybe? I wish?

    Oh I give up.

    Rand Paul for president!

  • 4word thinker Murray, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 11:20 p.m.

    We should trim the defense budget by the amount they spend spying on US citizens. Or perhaps use that money to stop the infiltration of drugs and thugs, and possibly terrorists trying to blend in, from the south. It is crazy that we spend so much defending against our own people.

    But other defense spending is necessary. We have a target on our chest, and we need to be prepared to defend ourselves.

  • Spoc Ogden, UT
    Feb. 15, 2014 2:17 a.m.

    Back to the debt ceiling.

    I have a debt ceiling on my checking account. It is there to prevent me from becoming so indebted that I cannot recover. If I continue to write checks when that limit is reached, I can be prosecuted for obligating the bank to pay funds I do not have available to me.

    In government circles, if I cause the government to incur an obligation for funds not authorized, I have committed what they call a ratification and I will spend time behind bars.

    One of the reasons offered for why the debt ceiling should be raised is that the House, Senate, and President have already obligated the government to spend money beyond what is authorized by the debt ceiling and those debts must be paid. Have the H, S, and P not therefore committed multiple ratifications? Why aren't they being prosecuted?

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 15, 2014 12:24 p.m.

    Most of you, including the editorial itself, are trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. The problem is the economic system itself - American capitalism which produces fantastic inequalities of wealth and income despite most people being pretty much alike in their efforts. The so-called entitlements and transfer payments are band-aid measures to somehow even things out, but they are largely ineffective in spite of your hand wringing over them. Without entitlements so-called the system would collapse due to the fantastic top heavy distribution of wealth. Most of the Republicans and half of the Democrats in the congress don't want a fix because such would enrage heavy campaign donors.

    By calling for a limiting of entitlements and not looking at revenues you are helping to bring about a collapse of the entire system. As a socialist I find this encouraging, though I loath the resultant suffering.

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    Feb. 15, 2014 4:05 p.m.

    @Spoc,

    Your question about ratifications is an insightful one. The answer is that the law against ratifications applies to funds appropriated by Congress. Not all federal spending is done under appropriated spending, so things like the interest paid on debt and nondiscretionary budget items like social security don't count as ratificationsratifications. But they are debts that Congress has legally obligated itself to pay. Hope that clarifies.

  • PM64 Orem, UT
    Feb. 17, 2014 9:26 a.m.

    Andrew Jackson is the only president to pay off the national debt. It's been accumulating ever since.

    FDR's "Great Society" vastly bloated the government and its ability to spend. Social Security was invented, with the eligibility age set well above the average life span. The average American would never have collected a dime in SS if lifespans hadn't increased, and SS wasn't set up to increase the retirement age as lifespans increased. Of course congress spent every cent ever paid into it.

    That has resulted in several generations collecting much more SS than they paid in. It's a pyramid scheme, and the number of workers paying into it per retiree is dropping rapidly as the baby boomers retire. We'll be down to two workers per retiree soon, and that isn't supportable.

    The 1960s "Guns and Butter" policies of LBJ that introduced welfare and medicare vastly expanded mandatory spending and destroyed the family, since fathers were no longer needed.

    Of course people always vote for the politicians who keeps the goodies coming.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Feb. 18, 2014 10:01 a.m.

    It is not the money taxed or spend that is so much the problem as it is the waste, fraud, corruption and wealthy greed of money that is the problem. Put Americas extraordinary wealth to honest work and the Nation will flourish and its economic problems resolved.