|THE $150 BILLION STIMULUS|
OPINION By Bob Weaver
Politicos are really worried about the economy this election year, using the euphemism "stimulus package," rather than calling the $150 billion expenditure "deficit spending."
Economy watchers say it is ironic that additional borrowing is prescribed as the remedy for a malady that arose from unwise borrowing.
Cheap credit has generated excessive consumption and investment in the real estate sector.
It is bothersome to suggest that using the incomes of future taxpayers to purchase re-election is irresponsible.
This "stimulus bill" is really $150 billion worth of some future generation's resources appropriated to finance our own consumption.
Further, it is quite possible we're borrowing the money from China for the "stimulus."
Most American's will just be glad to get the check in the mail, grateful to their debtor nation to have a little jingle.
Meanwhile, according to most polls, almost 80% of Americans are dissatisfied with Congress and 8 in 10 believe the economy is getting worse.
More recently, polls indicate American's are developing a "ho-hum" attitude toward the Iraq war, likely because of less negative reporting.
Maybe we do need a big shopping spree and quit thinking about any of this.
FLASHBACK: DRUNKEN SAILOR SPENDING - Bush "Tax And Spend" Worst In History (2/01/2004)
By Bob Weaver OPINION AND COMMENT
It is surprising the Bush administration has become the drunken sailor of spending taxpayer money, increasing the national debt beyond the comprehension of most taxpayers to fathom.
Bush is seeking to convince the public that the economy is healthier, people are happier, and the world is safer, that the real political issues are patriotism, God, guns and gays.
No matter what political ground on which you stand, you should clearly understand the Bush administration's spending legacy has become the worst in the nation's history.
On some spending spells, he has had considerable support from Democrats.
Surely, Washington is out of touch with middle America.
The late Senator Paul Simon said "It is easy if you're in Washington to be influenced by the powerful and wealthy. There are no unemployed people at cocktail parties."
Which reminds me of attending a major poverty conference put on by the Appalachian Regional Council in Huntington-Ashland a few years ago. Those attending flew into the Huntington airport, drove their nice cars to area motels and ate from bountiful buffets. When I looked around, there were no poor, unemployed, working class people on the agenda.
President Bush's new budget projects the Medicare overhaul he just signed will cost one-third more than estimated.
This year's federal deficit will surge past a half trillion dollars for the first time.
The White House told congressional conservatives that the Medicare bill would cost $395 billion. Now it is estimated the cost is $534 billion for the decade that ends in 2013. A billion here, a billion there.
The Medicare prescription bill, while providing needed relief for seniors, is a major drain on taxpayers. The measure allows full-tilt Medicare money to go to drug and insurance companies, whose prices and rates have yet to be called to task.
The projections are deepening an election-year wedge between the White House and conservative Republicans, upset over spending and budget deficits that they say have grown too high on Bush's watch.
"No one vote has caused me more angst in my short political career," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. "I hope this will embolden conservatives and others" to control spending.
The Congressional Budget Office, has said the new Medicare package in its second decade could exceed $1.5 trillion.
When Democratic President Jimmy Carter left the White House in 1981, America's national debt was less than $1 trillion. Since then — mostly under Republicans — it has soared to a staggering $7 trillion, which equals about $65,000 owed per American family.
Conservatives long complained about those "tax and spend" Democrats. Where are those conservatives now, hidden under a rug in the oval office?
Never in history has the government outspent its revenue at such a rate.
Under Democratic President Bill Clinton the imbalance was brought under control — but it has exploded under Republican George W. Bush.
Bush insisted on trillion-dollar tax giveaways which mostly benefit the wealthy, while jacking up military spending with no way to pay for it except by borrowing.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday that this year's federal deficit will reach a stunning $477 billion — the worst in any nation in history. Over the next decade, it forecast a $2.4 trillion total deficit. That's $1 trillion worse than the estimate last August.
A trillion here, a trillion there.
The economy is being "improved" by zero percent interest rates. Any nickel and dime economist will tell you these "savings" are Trojan horses designed to encourage people to borrow money, to spend more.
The Associated Press noted that "consumer debt has more than doubled in the past 10 years to record levels.... Consumer debt hit a record $1.98 trillion... and translates to some $18,700 per U.S. household."
The Bush bubble will burst.
With millions of jobs being shifted abroad, the movement to eliminate overtime pay by the Bush administration, jobs that pay less with no benefits, health care and prescription drugs un-affordable - working peoples priorities will shatter government budgets.
(The $3 plus per gallon gasoline price was yet to come)
The dialog about America's future must change soon.
FLASHBACK: NATIONAL DEBT EXCEEDS $8 TRILLION (1/02/2006)
By Bob Weaver OPINION AND COMMENT
The USAs national debt has now exceeded $8 trillion dollars.
It is completely out-of-control, but it is rarely a hot button issue on the political map.
The National Debt is the total amount of money owed by the government.
It should not be confused with the federal budget deficit, government spending exceeds revenue.
Add up all the deficits (and subtract those few budget surpluses we've had) for the past 200+ years and you'll get the current National Debt.
Politicians love to crow "The deficit is down! The deficit is down!"
Don't be fooled. Reducing the deficit just means we're adding less to the Debt this year than we did last year.
The National Debt on January 1, 1791, was $75 million dollars.
Today, it rises by that amount every hour or so.
Except for a rise at the end of World War II, the Debt remained remarkably constant for nearly forty years when inflationary forces are taken into account.
After 1983, mostly during a time when "conservatives" have been in charge of the government, the rise has been dramatically upward, even when inflation is taken into account.
The debt was a "hot button" issue for Republicans for many years, accusing Democrats of relentless spending, which they did.
On October 18th 2005, the outstanding Public Debt rose to $8,003,897,406,911.24.
Visit the U.S. National Debt Clock
FLASHBACK: THE TRICKLE DOWN DEFICIT (11/26/2003)
By Bob Weaver OPINION AND COMMENT
What you hear and what is?
Most of us believe in the balance of power maintained by divergent political beliefs, the conservatives vs. the liberals. It is becoming more difficult by the day to sort through the chaff.
The under spoken Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs is warning the "U.S. budget is out of control." This sentiment is being echoed by economists, including the bipartisan Concord Coalition, which monitors federal spending. The group said 2003 is "the most irresponsible year ever" in terms of fiscal discipline in American history.
This spending is the courtesy of the "conservative" Republican Congress and White House, who have presided over an orgy of tax cuts, benefit increases, and ever increasing military expenses.
And you thought those Democrats were bad.
This year's budget was shot a long time ago.
The latest new costs will add as much as $800 billion to the national debt over the next 10 years.
The damage will be worse in the following decade.
The newest item is $400 billion for a Medicare plan which has a prescription drug benefit for seniors. The benefit will likely assure Bush's re-election.
The plan did not address the core issues of out-of-control drug charges to the American public, nor out-of-control insurance costs, both of which are un-affordable to the average American. (I just read where one insurance CEO is paid $70 million a year)
In the mix is a national health care system that is nearing a state of collapse, lack of access.
The new Medicare plan will do little more than prop it up a little longer.
The new Medicare plan will likely shift billions of dollars to the insurance industry, which we are told is good for us, and begin the privatizing of Medicare and eventually Social Security.
The Medicare plan, which does not kick in until after next year's election, will help both the drug and insurance companies. If history repeats, the costs will spiral upward and the health care crisis will continue to snowball, snowball, snowball.
If the Bush administration's energy bill had passed, another $23 billion to $30 billion in tax cuts to corporations would be added to the deficit.
The war in Iraq had a recent appropriation of nearly $90 billion, and that's just a drop in the bucket.
So, dear citizen, after years of the Republicans screaming about the national deficit, America finally had a balanced budget.
Now we are into Bush's consecutive tax cuts totaling more than $1.7 trillion over the next decade, mostly to high income individuals, and the national debt is so high that most of us can't configure the numbers.
There is also the fleeting thought about the paltry $500-$700 billion stolen from American workers, investors, retirement funds and small businesses by giant corporations like Enron and WorldCom. How much of that money has been recovered?
But the words from Washington are consoling about fiscal restraint, responsibility, trickle-down and economic growth.