Driving around in my car last Sunday, searching for anything other than a right-wing talk show to listen to on the AM dial (a tough job), I heard the Dolenz’s (or should it be Dolenz’?), a husband and wife personal finance team, interviewing an economist who worked on a deficit study that recently got shelved by the Treasury Department when the conclusions didn’t mesh neatly with Bush’s tax cut plans. Well, not only didn’t the conclusions not mesh neatly, they were completely opposed to the notion of reducing taxes and increasing the federal deficit.
This column by Scott Burns on the same subject appeared the next day in our local newspaper. If that link doesn’t work (the Dallas News site wants folks to register to see their stories), here’s another story about the disappearing deficit study. It was astounding to hear this economist talk about the $44 trillion worth of long-term obligations this country faces, but doesn’t have the money for: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. Yes, not billion, trillion. He said that it would take an immediate 69% across the board tax hike to get the federal budget back in balance, which, obviously, isn’t going to happen. Instead, Bush and the Congress are heading us in the opposite direction.
As a baby boomer, naturally I have a vested interest in making sure that there is some money lying around in another 8-10 years to fund my lavish Social Security years. But I also have a natural interest in not living in a bankrupt country. The economist, who had worked in both the Reagan and Bush1 administrations (so he isn’t a knee-jerk liberal), said that the United States actually is bankrupt already. We just don’t realize it. He felt that overnight Wall Street could wake up to the financial mess our government is in, and realize that printing money is going to be the only way out of the problem. Which means higher interest rates, and higher inflation.
Not cheery news, but the worst part of the story was that this study was deliberately quashed by the Bush administration. Not because it was wrong, but because it was right. It told too much truth. What a sad state of affairs, when your national leaders lie to you. I’d rather have a president who lies about his sex life, and keeps the economy strong, than have the sort of presidential liar we are suffering through now.