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Have you ever tried to put 9 trillion dollars in perspective?
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Heritage Foundation does it for you.

Essentially it would be the equivalent of giving each and every American, all 300+ million of us, $29,700.00.

Unfortunately, instead of giving it to us, that's what each of us is on the hook for in terms of the debt, at the moment.

And Congress, true to form, just increased the debt limit by $850,000,000,000 to $9,815,000,000,000. And yeah, that makes it almost 10 trillion.

Here's the key point though, as expressed by Nicola Moore:
“While today’s $9 trillion debt seems high, it is small compared to the debt that future generations stand to inherit. In order to spare them this crushing burden, Congress must act now to reform entitlement programs, which will become the main drivers of government spending and borrowing. If it does not, Congress will have to raise the debt limit many more times, and future generations will pay the price.”
Yet what is the big battle today? That's right, expanding yet another entitlement program - SCHIP. And Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? So far they're MIA in the "presidential debates" which have been occurring.

The main drivers of future spending that will necessitate borrowing are Medicare and Medicaid.[4] These programs will expand dramatically due to rising healthcare costs and the aging of the Baby Boomers. From 2005 to 2050, Medicare is projected to grow from 3 percent to 9 percent of GDP, and Medicaid will grow from 1.5 percent to 4 percent of GDP. These programs will have a direct effect on the debt because they rely on general revenue to pay for benefits; thus, significant additional borrowing will be required to cover these increasing costs.[5] While the public debt today stands at approximately 39 percent of GDP, the CBO estimates that the federal debt will skyrocket to 246 percent by 2050 if all this spending comes to full fruition.

Debt levels of this magnitude would be simply unsustainable. Historically, debt held by the public has averaged about 46 percent of GDP. If debt reached 246 percent of GDP, it could crush the economy by removing all budgetary flexibility and creating an unprecedented government demand on capital markets.
Yeah, but you know, that's all someone else's problem, isn't it?
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Yeah, but you know, that’s all someone else’s problem, isn’t it?
Sadly the level of outrage seems to be directly proportional to the proximity of power in government.

Those out of power with little ability to affect change, are always the one’s claiming changes must be made, until they get into power, when they claim that the debt is not historically high relative to the GDP and a debt is good.

I agree with you on the severity of the problem, but wish conservatives were this cognizent of the problem when their boys were in power.

I am coming to believe more and more that the solution to our problems lie in the Senate, if we can change the way the Senators are chosen, it could become what it was intended to be, an independent voice of reason to stave off majoritarian rabble of the House. (House would be a check against plutocratic excesses by the Senate).

Our problem is that now we have two Houses and PARTY affiliation negates the responsibility of both.


Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
You’re not sounding very compassionate, McQ. Don’t you care about the children?

Agreed with Capt. Sarcastic about direct election of Senators. Major error there.
Written By: spongeworthy
URL: http://
We’ll never run out of people willing to spend somebody else’s money.

The whole AARP hit on Social Security reform pretty well proved that. Like all Ponzi schemes, this one will end badly.
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
Captin Sarcastic wrote:
Our problem is that now we have two Houses and PARTY affiliation negates the responsibility of both.
You know, I’m not too sure if repealing the 17th would really change that very much (though it probably wouldn’t hurt.) Senators might no longer need to pander to the general public, but they would still pander to their electorate (state legislators) and vested interests/lobbyists etc. State legislators might be more knowledgeable about some of the issues than the general public, but I’m not necessarily sure they’d elect someone less partisan.
Written By: James O
URL: http://
Don’t forget to tack on the $5k Hill’s going to give (you know, ’cause it’s her money) to every baby born.
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
This could be turned around pretty quickly, in historical terms, but it would take two things American politicians don’t have: vision and guts.

Social Security and Medicare are the big traps. Take them out of government and the problem is solved. It’s not a case of "easier said than done," it’s really a case of "easier dead than done."

What’s likely to happen is that American life expectancy will start falling, along with benefits, and the elder "safety net" will look more like high noon at an Aztec temple. There will be two retirement and care options: jump or be pushed.

Government programs, you see, must be efficient to be effective, and they’re going to be efficient all right, if it kills you.

A bureaucratic/actuarial model is likely to take hold: "if we can get that damn life expectancy down to 68.7 years this will work much better. And, there will be no need to cut benefits!"
Written By: Martin McPhillips
I should add to my previous comment that "universal health coverage" will be essential to the final solution that I outlined.

As I noted a while back, that coverage will feature eugenic editing of the population at the beginning of life, euthanasia at the end, and rationed and mediocre care in between.

In other words, the population will be sized for the "universal coverage," as opposed to the other way around. Certain "therapeutic abortions" will be mandatory in that voluntary sort of way that government makes things mandatory (have an abortion or forfeit your right to "universal coverage" for your defective child) and euthanasia will be sold as the "best palliative care available for your condition."

"Do not resuscitate" won’t just be a status in nursing homes; it will be a standing order throughout the health care/mortuary science industrial complex.
Written By: Martin McPhillips
I have no problem with raising the dept limit as long as it is tied to a % of GDP.

Written By: Brian Kilburn
URL: http://
McQ—I agree that unfounded liabilities such as Medicare pose a potential problem, which is inherent in democratic countries. Politicians court voters by spending money.

However, I disagree that current Federal government debt is too high (or even high compared to our economy). Our total current debt is a modest 66% of our annual GDP. As such, it is much lower as a percentage than Japan, Italy or Singapore and on par with Germany, France or Canada for example. Even at that, about 40% of the $9 trillion government debt is owed to various government agencies—that is, the government owes itself. The publicly-held debt to GDP ratio is about 39%.

The quotes from Heritage are tricky because they make many hidden assumptions in calculating what debt ’will be’ in 2050. Can any of us predict what will happen in 5 years, much less 43 years? By the way, Steve Conover at The Skeptical Optimist blog is a great source for information on this issue. He is worth reading for a more benign perspective on this issue.

I am not ignoring the potential problems of unfunded programs, which are significant. In that regard, the key is not the dollar amount of debt, but rather government debt as a percentage of our economy. The key issue to focus on, is what can be done to promote economic growth.

Written By: Kurt Brouwer
What’s likely to happen is that American life expectancy will start falling...
That would seem to be the logical, slide-rule solution, wouldn’t it?

But the way I see it, that’s a possible key to breaking the whole thing apart. You and I disagree on the importance of religion, but not on the importance of life. I see religion as a primitive expression of man’s desire to "cheat death." You’d probably disagree that such is it’s essence, but it’s sure an element.

I have some confidence that science will deliver some of that. Probably not eternal, but what if they could eek it out to 150 years of functional, happy existence, say?

There are many places in the world to do research. What kind of a wedge you think that would create, politically?
Written By: Richard Nikoley

There’s no question, in my mind, that science will be able to eventually bring a given human life up to and beyond the maximum human life span of ~120 years.

I’ve always believed that research would get down to the "genetic clock" (i.e., dogs live so long, humans live so long, each species has its own natural lifespan, and at some point it will be possible to get to the bottom of that).

In the meantime, however, in about 50 years Western society is far more likely to resemble current-day Russia, where average lifespan has fallen precipitously. They’ve had a marvelous head start on us, but we’ll catch up. The West is as aggressive in pursuing its suicidal impulse as it was in pursuing its greatness.

George Soros might live to 150, though.

As I’ve noted on other occasions, the Europeans, setting the suicidal pace, are very determined to drag America down into death with them, and one of the keys to that is government getting full control of the health care system here, completing the eugenic programming, revving the engine of broadscale euthanasia, and cheapening the value of life. (Remember back in the 60s we used to talk about how in Asia life was very cheap? Well, the discount basement here is about to have its grand opening. Actually, the discount basement opened in 1973, but soon it will be re-named "universal care" and will make Wal-Mart look like the corner store.)

Americans will be much "better" at this than Canada or the Europeans. We will pursue it with customary abandon, and a trip to the hospital with something serious will be a one-way ticket to the maintenance center of the nation’s actuarial health.

I predict that at some point the "universal care" system will require its own police force, much like the environmental departments have theirs, whose job it will be to come down and haul off grandpa, for his own good of course, when he refuses to go to the hospital. This will be modeled on the way children are snatched from parents to make sure they get proper care. Grandpa will obviously be incompetent to decide for himself, too, because, after all, he’s refusing to seek said proper care.

All the mechanisms for this are well in place.

Do you remember the Clintons famously taunting Americans when they promoted their first health care program? They sat famously for a fake commercial in which they exchanged dialog about how "everyone is going to die, even Leon Panetta."

Well, they weren’t kidding. They just didn’t add "and when we decide it’s time, it’s time."
Written By: Martin McPhillips

Can’t really disagree with you. The end-point of socialist premises is that one must eventually do his duty to society and just die.

Written By: Richard Nikoley

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