Every two years when Americans go to vote, what issues do you believe they are voting on? Immigration has recently become a mobilizing factor for both parties, and climate change has as well. But even when considering those two issues, it is clear that Americans wait in line to vote for their economic future more than anything. In fact, immigration and Climate Change could also be considered economic issues, but that is beside the point. Unfortunately, Americans and our policymakers have been making the wrong choice. This is something that transcends both parties, although the current administration has been the latest, and perhaps worst offender. When you strip away the name calling and tribalism, it becomes increasingly clear that the path we are on is unsustainable. This is not opinion, it is fact, and it is a fact that everybody- Democrat, Republican, and Independent must pay attention to.
Everybody has heard of the $21 trillion dollar US debt, that thing Republicans and Democrats love to pretend to care about when they are out of power, only to worsen it when they come back into power. While you would be right to be concerned about the outstanding debt, the picture becomes even bleaker when examining future outlays.
Future outlays is a fancy way of saying what we, as a country, will owe in the future if we remain on our current fiscal path. It takes in all anticipated tax revenues and compares it to the bills we know we will have to pay down the road (social security, Medicare, education, etc.). What do you think that gap is?
Still, off the mark, go a little higher.
If you guessed that our future outstanding debt is $211 trillion dollars, congratulations, you’re a winner!
You read that correctly, the United States currently has $211 trillion dollars of future expenses with no way to pay for them. This number comes from the Congressional Budget Office, who actually has a track record of underestimating debt levels. As currently projected, Social Security leads the way, accounting for roughly $34 trillion dollars in unfunded future expenses. Medicare and Medicaid account for roughly $30 trillion each, respectively. All said, the United States has $94 trillion dollars in unfunded future entitlement expenditures, and the only solution we seem to come up for is to cut taxes. The level of stupidity in this practice is unquantifiable.
How did we get here?
This is actually what is easiest to comprehend: if you were a politician who was trying to paint a bright picture of the United States’ future, would warning people about our impending doom be the best way to get elected? Probably not. Even worse, this issue will not fix itself, it will require higher taxes for everybody, and the longer we wait to solve the issue, the higher those taxes, and the pain felt with them, will be.
This brings me to my main point: If you are a supporter of the current administration’s tax policy, please stop calling yourself a fiscal conservative (Signed, a true fiscal conservative). There is no factual argument you can make that shows how lower taxes will magically bridge this $211 trillion dollar budget gap we are faced with.
But Democrats are not without fault either. Even though Democrats have run on higher taxes, they are offsetting those revenue gains with exorbitant spending increases that won’t do anything to solve our long-term fiscal dilemma.
The point is this:
Our economy has deep structural issues that neither party has been willing to address. In order to fix the issue, it will take two wildly unlikely occurrences: A party will have to run on a platform that increases taxes and decreases spending, and then they’ll have to get elected. What makes the issue even less likely to be solved, is that their reforms would likely be so unpopular that they’d be thrown out of office 2 to 4 years later, and we’d be right back where we started.
Calling for higher taxes does not make you a liberal or a socialist, it makes you a pragmatist who understands basic math. Unfortunately, both parties have brushed these very real concerns under the rug so that they could promise things to voters that they know will bankrupt us. What is most unfortunate, is that all Ponzi schemes come crashing down, unless those running the Ponzi scheme decide to cut losses and come clean. However, it is clear that neither party seems willing to cut these losses and endure 5-10 years of economic hardship as a result. What is perhaps most tragic, and ironic, is the fact that our democratic system is the root of this issue, because both of our political parties seem poised to continue practices that ensure they pick up the most number of seats in two years, instead of focusing on the long-term health of our economy. That is bad for every Republican, Democrat, and Independent in this country.