January 2016 Brief: Volume 23, Number 2
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The Government Spending and Debt Crisis Continues
by John Hendrickson
In early November Congress and President Barack Obama came to a compromise over spending, which not only raised the debt ceiling, but also left a door open for additional reckless spending. The federal budget is around $4 trillion and our national debt is over $19 trillion, which does not include the unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare and the costs of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “The number one threat to our country’s future is our debt. The number one threat to our national security is our debt,” stated Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Under President Barack Obama the national debt has expanded over $7 trillion, but the blame for this problem falls on both Democrats and Republicans.
Senator James Lankford (R-OK), who has assumed former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn’s role as a watchdog on wasteful spending, has released Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball. Federal Fumbles exposes some of the wasteful spending by the federal government along with the harmful excessive regulations. As National Review reported, “Lankford records $900 billion in waste — $100 billion in government programs and $800 billion in regulations.” Both excessive spending and regulations are harmful to both individuals and businesses as explained by Senator Lankford:
As the national debt escalates so will interest payments on the debt. As a recent report from The Heritage Foundation explains:
Michael D. Tanner, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis, wrote that “Politicians from both parties continue to avoid taking serious responsibility” in addressing government spending and the debt. As Tanner stated:
A significant driver of the debt crisis is not only out-of-control government spending, but also the escalating cost of entitlement programs. “Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone account for 47 percent of federal spending today…,” noted Tanner. With the national debt over $19 trillion the situation is much worse, as Tanner explains:
This is why Senator Rand Paul is correct to point out the fact that the national debt and government spending is the most serious issue confronting the nation. President Calvin Coolidge, who understood that government spending was a moral issue, offered a warning that is relevant to us today when he stated:
 Senator Rand Paul, “Sen. Rand Paul’s Late Night Filibuster Nearly Derails Debt Increase,” News/Press Release, Office of United States Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Washington, D.C., <http://www.paul.senate.gov/news/press/sen-rand-pauls-late-night-filibuster-nearly-derails-debt-increase> accessed on December 2, 2015.
John Hendrickson is a Research Analyst with Public Interest Institute, Mount Pleasant, Iowa.Contact him at Public.Interest.Institute@LimitedGovernment.org.
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