Frank Ruff Jr.: Dealing with debt
Published 12:00 pm Friday, May 26, 2023
Much attention has been given to the national debt lately. Sadly, it is an issue that should have been addressed much sooner. Instead, the administration in Washington has been too focused on how to spend money that we don’t have. Promising to give to foreign governments and numerous projects in this country with no regard as to where the money would come from.
To better relate to the situation, consider a family that spent too much on gifts at Christmas, putting everything on charge cards. Then the washing machine breaks down and the car needs repairs; these too added to their debt. When the bills come, the couple argues about the bill. They conclude that they will make a minimum payment and hope they might get raises next month.
Rather than reach any serious conclusions on how to tackle their problems, they decide to go out to dine at the expensive new restaurant in town. As they pass the mall, the husband decides he needs a new fishing rod, and the wife needs a new dress.
Then the next bill comes due. Soon they reach their maximum credit. They have backed themselves in a corner. They must drastically change their lifestyle or, even worse, file for bankruptcy. Either way they lose status among their friends and community.
This is where we are in America today. Other countries are losing their respect for us for our fiscal irresponsibility. Our enemies understand that we have weakened ourselves by promising everything to everybody. No longer can we do the most responsible things that a government should do.
This did not happen overnight, and no one is without blame. Every administration in recent history has out spent its income.
When I took my first course in economics many years ago, the professor assured us not to worry about the national debt. His reasoning was that we simply owed it to ourselves, and we could easily raise taxes or simply not pay that debt when it came due. Sadly, he taught a generation of college students this dribble, convincing them not to worry. The debt at that date was $354 billion dollars. That is about what we must budget today just for interest.
THINGS HAVE CHANGED
Today our national debt is over $30 trillion dollars. Once the debt was owed to American citizens. Today much of that debt is owed to the Communist Chinese Party. Like the charge card companies, the Chinese could at any time demand payments that could force our government to curtail many services that our citizens have grown to expect.
WHERE WE ARE IN 2023
After passing several trillion dollars spending legislation in 2021 and 2022, the news came out in February that we were going to face a massive problem this year. Instead of reducing any programs, the President kept at it, spending like crazy.
About the first of May, Treasury Secretary Yellen announced that we could be in trouble as early as June 1 but certainly by August. As usual, the media focused on the June 1 date. The President assured us action must take place quickly. He wasted a week before calling a meeting with the leaders of Congress.
While all this handwringing was occurring, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would increase the national debt but only on the condition that spending was curtailed. When the President met with Congressional leaders, he announced that he would accept no spending cuts. They ended the meeting having accomplished nothing. Another meeting was set for almost two weeks later, that is much closer to the perceived June 1st.
We do not know what the next week will bring. We do know that when we run out of new money coming into the treasury, it will affect much of the country. Many will feel the pain. Virginia, which has many military bases, federal employees, and defense contractors will be harmed far more than other states.
Will that occur June 1? Probably not. I believe Secretary Yellen was sent out to alarm folks. In all probability, the government can limp along as June 15th tax payments are due. By late July, all should be concerned.
At that point, our government will be in the same position as the couple that has maxed out their credit cards. Something drastic must be done!
Frank Ruff Jr. represents Charlotte in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.