Numbers schmumbers

Laura Ingraham asked a Republican an interesting question last week. She pointed out that Republicans always try to appeal to voters with numbers and logic while Democrats always try to make their appeal based on emotion.

Democrats, for example, drag out the story of some individual with a horrible disease or other problem they cannot get help for without a government program. They never quantify how prevalent their selected anecdote is in the general population or how much their program will cost.

They tug at your heartstrings but never mention the impact on your wallet.

Ingraham’s question was when are Republicans going to learn to change their messaging to appeal to the hearts of voters. Of course the problem with that is how do we get Americans to recognize we cannot spend our way to prosperity.

Mention budgets and numbers and most people’s eyes begin to glaze over. But the reality is we cannot ignore our common problem. There just is not enough money to fix all of the world’s problems tomorrow. Just like our personal budget, we must prioritize and manage our national budget.

Regardless of political party our government has been notoriously bad at managing the budget. The reality is that spending is out of control. It has been out of control for decades and our national debt continues to grow with no plan in place to reduce it.

Currently, our national debt is about $20 trillion. If you find it difficult to grasp that number that is approximately $160,000 for every household in America.

Congress is currently debating about when and if they should raise the “debt ceiling.” The debt ceiling is an artificial limit on how much the government can borrow to support its profligate spending. If the government cannot borrow any more money then it has to start defaulting on paying its bills.

What bills will it stop paying first? Will it quit paying on the notes they issued to individuals? Will it stop making payments to social security recipients? Will it stop paying medical providers for their Medicare and Medicaid patients? Will they shut down all of the National Parks and Monuments? Will they lay off Federal employees?

The reality is there would be chaos. The reality is there would be people dying from the distress caused by the economic collapse.

Let’s look at this another way. Suppose we all agreed to assume our share of the national debt - $160,000 and to pay it off over the next 30 years at zero interest. The monthly payments for every household in America would be $666.67 per month for 30 years. Add a very modest rate of interest – say 4 percent to that note and the payments are $969.57 per month.

That would not solve the problem though because the government is still spending more than it is receiving in revenue. In fact, Social Security will be paying out more in benefits than it receives in taxes as the baby boom generation starts collecting their retirement payments.

When originally passed in 1935 the average life span was 61 years, which meant few Americans would actually receive benefits from Social Security. Today life expectancy is around 84 years. The result is a perfect storm of a large surge in beneficiaries and a longer life span that results in a program that will continue to create deficit spending for the foreseeable future.

It is time for all of us to start acting like responsible adults and demand our government come up with a plan to balance the budget and get over the emotional appeals, lies and fear mongering.

We cannot expect the rich to bail us out. They don’t have enough money.

Numbers may cause our eyes to glaze over but ignoring them dooms our children and grandchildren to a world where issues like individual freedom, clean air and water, health care and retirement planning are beyond the realm of possibilities.

We all become slaves to a government that promises to take care of us from cradle to grave.

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