"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

99 Weeks of Unemployment Benefits? When is Enough, Enough?

July 1st, 2010 by mopns · No Comments

The Hill reported yesterday, “The national debt will reach 62 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of this year, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Wednesday. The budget office said the debt will reach its highest percentage of GDP since the end of World War II. The jump is driven by lower tax revenues and higher federal spending in the recent recession.”

And today, The Washington Post adds, “‘Growth in spending on health-care programs remains the central fiscal challenge,’ CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf said in a presentation to [President] Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission. ‘In CBO’s judgment, the health-care legislation enacted earlier this year made a dent in the problem, but did not substantially diminish that challenge.’”

The United States simply cannot continue on this unsustainable fiscal path. Even President Obama seems to have figured out that this is a serious problem. The Wall Street Journal notes, “Obama said Wednesday that the rising national debt is a ‘real and legitimate concern’ and that the U.S. must reorder its priorities to gain control over federal spending.” And according to the WSJ, “At a town hall meeting, he said that the combination of the economic stimulus measure and bailouts for banks and auto companies added up to ‘serious money’ and had contributed to a sense that federal spending is out of control.”

Of course there wasn’t much acknowledgement that it’s the policies of the Obama administration that have put the country in this situation. The stimulus bill alone cost $862 billion, and the cost exceeds $1 trillion, when interest payments are factored in. The unpopular health care bill, which will actually increase health care expenditures contrary to Obama’s claims, may cost as much as $2.6 trillion in the first 10 years. Meanwhile, the president’s budget would see the country’s debt double in 5 years and triple in 10.

Some Democrats appear to be realizing that this path is unsustainable. The WSJ writes, “Democrats on a blue-ribbon deficit-reduction panel suggested spending cuts would likely have to outweigh tax increases if the nation is to seriously tackle its ballooning financial obligations.”

Unfortunately, Senate Democrats don’t appear to be among those interested in doing something about the record levels of spending and debt. For the fourth time, Senate Democrats offered a version of a bill to extend unemployment benefits and expired tax credits that would add tens of billions of dollars to the debt. The latest iteration featured $35 billion in deficit spending. But each time the Democrats offer a new version, they refuse to try the one thing that could get the bill the 60 votes needed to pass: paying for the bill.

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said last night, “We’ve offered ways of paying for these programs, and we’ve been eager to approve them. But we can’t support job-killing taxes and adding tens of billions to the already unsustainable national debt. So the only reason the unemployment extension hasn’t passed is because Democrats simply refuse to pass a bill that doesn’t add to the debt. That’s it. That’s the only difference between what they’ve offered and what we’ve offered.” If President Obama and Democrats on his fiscal commission now claim to understand that the problem is spending money we don’t have, how is it that Senate Democrats still haven’t gotten the message? Americans are being crushed under a $13 trillion mountain of debt and Democrats in Congress still don’t get it.

Related:

Rasmussen Reports: 28% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

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