Wednesday morning, President Trump celebrated the recent stock market rally to new heights. It is true that the stock market has added trillions in value since his election, but it's time for politicians to address the real problem our country faces: a $20 trillion federal debt.
According to economists, the stock market gains are not tied to reducing the national debt. Our national debt has been at more than 100 percent of GDP for years now; in other words, the federal government hasn't reined in its unsustainable budget. Thus, in order to reduce our national debt, we need to focus on cutting spending.
You remember seventh grade math when we learned how to balance a checkbook, right? You need to spend less than you bring in. It seems Washington thinks it is exempt from balancing its checkbook, something even Common Core math teaches us.
In micro terms, the government keeps charging purchases to its "credit card" and raising the "credit limit" (aka the debt limit). Slowly, our debt has become an overwhelming $20 trillion burden, and that doesn't include unfunded liabilities.
Truth In Accounting estimates the federal government owes roughly $31.4 trillion in unfunded Social Security promises and $44.7 trillion in unfunded Medicare promises, as well as $7.2 trillion in promised pension and other retiree benefits. Acknowledging our current state, we need to work towards reducing this debt now before it completely engulfs our economy.
The first step is to significantly cut government spending.
Our military spending constitutes approximately 3.3 percent of GDP. By rethinking some of the costly and prolonged entanglements we have held for decades abroad and thinking more strategically about our national security interests, we can decrease spending without sacrificing safety. As I wrote in Washington Examiner, millennials have lived in a perpetual state of war and it is up to our generation to push for an end to wars that are no longer serving our national interest. Do we need 900 bases around the world and troops in more than 130 countries? I say, let's bring the troops home and if we have to spend the money, spend it here.
A few months ago during Trump's budget release, the Department of Defense requested authorization for a new set of Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, recommendations. Pulling support from both sides of the aisles, BRAC could save the military $2 billion per year in 2018. However, lawmakers insist that BRAC would be detrimental to local economies and the upfront cost would only plummet us further into debt.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., are two of the only fiscally sane elected officials in Washington. They both back a "penny plan" budget that cuts spending across the board. It takes one cent out of every dollar the federal government spends each year. The budget balances in six years. If Congress finds an area that they are unable to cut, then they have to find somewhere else in the budget to cut spending.
Is it really that insane to think that we can't cut one penny out of every dollar the government spends?
What is insane is the idea that we're borrowing $1 million a minute. Do we really think we can continue down this road of fiscal insanity for much longer?
Each baby born in the U.S. in 2016 is responsible for $42,000 of the federal debt. They enter the world owing money to a federal government that has recklessly dwindled away their future. As former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen said, the greatest threat to our security is our national debt. Our country cannot continue to be a world leader until we get our fiscal house in order. What happened to the era in this country when elected officials of all parties understood the notion that a budget must balance? That debt has consequences?
The public need to decide what we want the role of government to be. We're kidding ourselves if we think the government can take care of us from cradle to grave. The out of control warfare and welfare (both corporate and social) path we're on must come to an end.
Every year we run a deficit, the federal government has three options:
Thanks to the Federal Reserve we've been unsuccessfully printing and borrowing money for decades. Legislators in Washington need to hear this simple message loud and clear: Cut the spending.
Cliff Maloney Jr. (@LibertyCliff) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is the president of Young Americans for Liberty, a non-profit organization based in Arlington, Va., with more than 900 college chapters across the country.
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