39°F
weather icon Clear

Thomas Knapp on a news flash: U.S. government is already broke

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is bothered by the recently passed “tax reform” package, The Hill reports.

His problem? It is “leaving us broke.”

“How,” he wonders, “are we going to pay for the deficit caused by the tax cut?”

Lew headed the Treasury Department under President Barack Obama, from early 2013 until the inauguration of Donald Trump last January. This means he would have been involved in budgeting for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

I don’t recall Lew complaining, at least in those terms, about 2014’s $485 billion deficit. Or 2015’s $438 billion deficit. Or 2016’s $585 billion deficit. Or 2017’s $666 billion deficit.

That’s more than $2 trillion added to the national debt — more than one-tenth of the debt as accrued over more than 200 years, in just four years with Jack Lew running the federal cash register.

In fact, I distinctly recall Jack Lew raising the roof every time Congress hesitated for even a minute before voting increases in his borrowing power.

As I write this, the national debt stands at more than $20.5 trillion, and per the president’s 2018 budget request, the U.S. government continues to spend money at a rate of about $7.8 million per minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week — about $850,000 more dollars per minute than it raises with taxes.

When Jack Lew refers to “us” and “we,” he wants every American to assume responsibility for a “fair share” of that debt. Currently, such a share would come to nearly $63,000 per U.S. citizen.

But “we” didn’t borrow that money. A few hundred politicians did. Yes, they claim that “we” are their co-signers. But I don’t recall offering to cover their bar tabs. Do you?

As far as “broke” is concerned, the U.S. government hit that point, and then some, long ago. It is bankrupt. Its accrued debt is greater than the U.S. GDP. That is, the U.S. government owes more money than is produced in goods and services in the U.S. in an entire year. If every last one of us was taxed at 100 percent, it wouldn’t pay off that debt.

Nobody of sound mind expects the debt to ever be paid off.

The holders of U.S. government bonds are those who hope to make a killing before the carriage turns back into a pumpkin and (to mix metaphors) to find a chair just before the music stops. They just want the U.S. government to take as much as it can, for as long as it can, out of our hides before the scheme collapses and the United States becomes Greece.

Vis a vis “paying for the deficit caused by the tax cut,” Mr. Lew, the answer is simple: Reduce spending to match revenues, just like every responsible household in the country does. No, that isn’t going to happen.

Politicians of Mr. Lew’s party and Mr. Trump’s party are going to continue maxing out the credit card until it starts getting declined.

A time will come when the politicians repudiate the debt. And the time is long past for us to repudiate the politicians.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
DAN SCHINHOFEN: Bill of Rights?

Back in January when the “novel coronavirus” was finally making the news, after the debacle of impeachment was over, I was very interested as I watched the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) shut down a city with 35 million residents. My first reaction was, “This could never happen in America as we have a Bill of Rights.” Boy was I wrong.

DAN SCHINHOFEN: Lessons learned

This past year has seen a lot of changes and most not for the better. As I sit here thinking it over, here are some of the things I have learned.

TIM BURKE: Possible second mandated shutdown would be disastrous

The recent rapid increase in COVID-19 positives is threatening to close businesses and halt family holiday gatherings temporarily. The post-election decrease in COVID-19 positives that some theorized would take place due to the election did not materialize. The exact opposite has happened.

STEVE SEBELIUS: 2020 election mandate? Compromise

Democrats long hoped for a supermajority in the Nevada Legislature; instead, the mixed election results will force both sides to work together to find consensus to fix vexing problems.

DAN SCHINHOFEN: More division coming up

President “projected” Biden stated that he will unite our country. Well, that’s good because his party spent the last four years dividing us. From the end of the election in 2016, the Democrats have refused to accept the results, but rather spent the last four years calling Trump illegitimate, a fraud, and of course tried to impeach him many times. The one time they actually went through with it, they knew it would fail in the Senate, but to meddle in the next election, they did it anyway, During Obama’s administration, there were many times some Republicans wanted to impeach Obama, but with the Senate being held by Harry Reid, they knew it would only be a show and cause division, so they did not.

As Mental Health Comes out of the Shadows, So Should Insurance Coverage to Increase Access to Care

Anyone who has ever tried to navigate the crazy task of selecting an individual health insurance policy knows the fundamental problem is figuring out exactly what you’re buying. Then, traversing the dizzying maze of HMOs, doctors, hospitals, co-pays, deductibles, allowable procedures, and coverage eligibility only increases the frustration.