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Fiscal Preview

growing US Debt
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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

I believe the latest government shutdown has been a fiscal preview of financial problems that will hit the government and us in the next few years. I’m not the only person saying this. Kevin Williamson in a recent column says the shutdown could be a “dress rehearsal for a fiscal Armageddon.”

Each day we see news reports of government bureaucrats who had to scale back their spending because they aren’t receiving a paycheck. There was even one story about a couple that took back their Christmas presents. But we all know that when a shutdown is over, government employees will receive back pay.

These news stories are focusing on what happens when thousands of federal workers don’t get their paychecks. Imagine what our society would look like when millions of citizens stop getting checks because the government has run out of money.

We aren’t there yet, but we are headed there quickly. Total spending on the major entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) will eventually exceed all the federal tax revenue collected each year. At the same time, the national debt continues to grow. And as interest rates increase, the cost of servicing the debt will go up even if that national debt did not increase.

In the best of all worlds, we would hope that our newly elected members of Congress would be willing to address this growing fiscal crisis. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the slightest interest from congressional leaders to reform our long-term financial issues. It’s easier to ignore the potential problem or postpone any meaningful reform.

The next time you see stories about federal workers not getting paychecks, look at the frustration on their faces and multiply it ten-fold in order to see what will happen when grandma doesn’t get her Social Security check or an impoverished mother doesn’t get her welfare payment. That will be a social and economic crisis we have never seen in our lifetimes.

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