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A Tenth of a Half Measure

Everyone has a great idea and a stupid one; you never know which is which.

The United States is in trouble.  Here is a plan to fix it.

The Problem

The national government takes in about $2 trillion per year, and is over $14 trillion in debt.  Stop to consider what that means. We — in the form of our government — owe seven times our yearly income to bondholders at home and abroad. Whatever your own personal income, multiply it by seven and ask what you would do if you owed that much.

The United States should carry no debt from year to year. A debt-free US would be a creditor nation, allowing the Fed to perform its money supply manipulation with peace of mind. The United States should not only have no long term debt, but should earn interest on money lent to  our developing allies.

If we paid $500 billion per year on the principle of the national debt, it would take 28 years to repay. We now pay $-1500 billion.  That is, under the present baseline, consensus, inertial non-plan, the United States will have to borrow — if it can — an additional $1.5 trillion dollars to continue its reckless, profligate course.  So we are overspending by $2 trillion.

House leaders are proud of the effort they put in finding $100 billion in cuts, while ten times that amount would be only half of what we need.

Congress cannot act on its own.  The pressure from those who feed at the public trough is too great, yet each member knows something must be done.

The Solution

A Balanced Budget Amendment is just the start.  But Congress has a way of fiddling with figures and lying about whatever constraints are applied to it. And so it will be with this idea.

If the United States has debt obligations, they shall be repaid in an amount no less than one sixth of its yearly expenditures or one third of the total debt, whichever is greater.

The above would force Congress to repay the debt, providing some hope for the future.  It goes beyond balancing the budget, and does not require any special deception of declaring an unfunded war against Gondwanaland or Granada to justify emergency spending; it simply must be paid back.

This is radical, considering the current Administration’s desire to continue outrageous spending levels.  Even four years ago, however, it would have seemed a meek and timid approach.

I fully recognize the likelihood of increased taxation.  Members of Congress should also recognize the likelihood of being thrown out of office if they try it to the exclusion of spending cuts including:

  • Slashing the funding of the EPA
  • Shuttering the Departments of Education, Transportation, Energy, and Labor and sell their former assets at auction
  • Ending the practice of collective bargaining for Federal employees

Entitlements

The trouble should be immediately apparent: so much of the obligation has been declared off-limits.

Social Security, for instance, obligates the government to pay to retirees much more than they ever contributed, while no investment was ever made to prepare for it. That amounts to the worst retirement scheme ever devised, such that not only does it fail to leverage compound interest, but it actually forces the taxpayers to borrow at interest to pay current retirees.

  • The program is unsustainable
  • Most people under 40 do not expect it to be there

The solution::

  • The retirement age should be raised by one half year per year, every year
  • Anyone older than an opt-out age should be allowed to opt out, and the opt-out age should decrease by a half year per year
  • The opt-out age and other factors should be calculated to preserve the program for the next 40 years

Medicare:

  • Decouple Social Security and Medicare
  • Allow interstate sale of health insurance
  • Allow penalty-free rollover between IRAs and HSAs

Medicaid

  • End it, allowing states to go their own way

In the alternative to these rather immodest entitlement proposals, follow Paul Ryan’s Roadmap.

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