The United States of America has a $13.8 trillion deficit. If you can't figure out that this is unsustainable, you need a brain transplant. We all worry about the looming threat of terrorism -- and we should. But the biggest threat to the future of this nation is not al-Qaeda but the crushing national debt. Someday, the bill collectors will come calling, and they won't accept a payment plan.
ABC News ran a story a few hours ago about the bipartisan Debt Commission, which has made recommendations on cutting $4 trillion from the national debt by 2015. There's something bitter for virtually every resident in America to swallow. Say goodbye to the popular mortgage and most other tax deductions. The U.S. Government would cut its work force by 10 percent, and those who stay would have their salaries frozen. One-third of military bases overseas would be closed, and military spending would be cut drastically. More low-income people would have to pay taxes, and high-income people would have their Social Security benefits reduced.
When I was still a reporter, I once covered a proposal to build a Target in a small town in Connecticut. The next day I was shooting the breeze with a member of the Board of Selectman, who told me his phone rang off the hook that day, with both pro-Target people who said my story was biased against Target, and anti-Target people claiming my story had a pro-Target bias. He told me that's how he knew it was a fair and balanced story, because both sides felt I was against them. I'm sure there are things that could be tweaked here and there with this deficit reduction plan. But to me, the fact that it will ding everybody somehow means it's probably good public policy.
Of course, the politicians are already lining up to oppose the plan. Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said it's "simply unacceptable." Rep. Jan Schakowski, D-Ill., said "I agree that the debt and the deficits are unsustainable, but this is not the way to do it."
Then what's your plan, Congresswomen Pelosi and Schakowski? Are you gonna write a check for $13.8 trillion out of your personal fortunes to erase the deficit? Or are you gonna vote yourself a pay raise in the next session like you always do?
And, in a way, this is our fault. Last week I blogged that we get the government we deserve, and I'm gonna keep blogging it until people wake up and realize we need to start electing a different breed of politicians into office.