Friday, July 8, 2011

The deficit is the size of national defense and social security combined

Just to point out the obvious, the reason that the debt ceiling must be raised is because the government is operating at a deficit.  The only way the debt ceiling doesn’t get raised is if the government brings in more revenue that it spends, then the government doesn’t have to borrow to pay its bills.  If the government can’t borrow, it can’t pay its bills.  The debt ceiling doesn’t govern expenditures, Congress writes the laws that mandate and authorize spending.  The debt ceiling allows the country to pay its bills. 

How much is $1.6 trillion?  That is the estimate of our deficit; that is about how much more we are spending than we are taking in.

The New York Times has a nice rectangular chart that shows how much money the government spends.

Interestingly enough, the federal government spends the same on National Defense as it does on Social Security:  $738 billion for each.  Add these together and you have a little under $1.6 trillion.  So, to balance the budget by cutting spending, the federal government would have to eliminate all spending on both national defense and social security - which, of course, can’t happen.

We can thank the unholy alliance between the government and the financial industry for creating the housing bubble and the resulting financial collapse that created this monstrous deficit and recession.  Maybe we can legitimately hope that government can get out of the grips of ideology long enough to cut spending and raise revenues to shrink the deficit, and bring government spending and government revenues back together. 

It needs very courageous leadership by the president and the leaders of congress to do this.  Now is the time for them to elevate beyond being mere re-election functionaries and lead the country out of looming financial collapse. 

I have hopes that this is starting to happen.