Letter: National Debt Gymnastics

My letter to the editor ran in today’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News

As a political independent who did not vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, I find the intellectual gymnastics partisans use hilarious and disgusting. Daily News columnist Nick Gier trumpets the wonderful job Democrats did lowering the deficit under President Barack Obama (His View, Dec. 7). The retired logician masterfully performs a sleight of hand, shifting the conversation from the national debt to the deficit.

The U.S. debt doubled in eight years under the Democrats. On Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama was sworn in, the debt was $10.626 trillion. On Jan. 20, 2017, when he left, it was $19.947 trillion. We added over $9 trillion to the debt, more than any other administration in history.

The numbers are astronomical. But remove eight zeroes and pretend it’s a household budget (source: usdebtclock.org):

  • Annual family income: $33,561
  • Money the family spent: $40,244
  • New debt on the credit card: $6,683
  • Outstanding balance on the credit card: $205,961
  • Family budget cuts last year: $441

Democrats made family budget cuts of $441 while running the credit card up from $100,000 to $200,000, and bought new toys with payments starting in 2017.

I understand this is macroeconomics versus microeconomics, but these numbers are unsustainable regardless.

And now a Republican is in office, Gier and the Democrats suddenly get religion about the debt? And simultaneously the Republicans do not care about the debt? A pox on both their houses.

These bills will come due on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. The national debt per taxpayer is currently $170,000, and the U.S. total debt per family is $820,000. I do not know who we think is going to pay this off. If you confiscated 100 percent of the wealth from everyone in the U.S., it still wouldn’t cover the debt.

Dale Courtney
Moscow

5 thoughts on “Letter: National Debt Gymnastics

  1. Courtesy of my friend Nick Gier . . .

    Hi Dale:

    You seemed to have forgotten that I responded to you on this question earlier on a letter you wrote to the Lewiston Tribune on exactly the same topic. You posted the letter on your site and I responded with what I’ve posted below.

    If you did not forget about this exchange, then you are just being intellectually dishonest. Doug Wilson did this after our abortion debate in 1993, and that is when I began to lose respect for him. When anyone refuses to respond to points already made and pretends that they have not been made, then he has not only lost the debate but also his virtue.

    Now to the point: Obama inherited on-going debt from Bush, namely, huge amounts due to his tax cuts and unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is in stark contrast to the relatively small debt that Obama incurred because of the ACA and the stimulus, which nearly all economists say was a success.

    Using figures from the Congressional Budget Office, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has calculated the long-term effects of various elements of the national debt, assuming that the Bush tax cuts are still in place. (This was before the current tax bill.) By 2019 those cuts will amount to $600 billion of the debt burden as opposed to $75 billion for Obama’s programs. We will still be paying $320 billion for the Great Recession (due to a drop in tax revenues) and $150 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    And once again, since you don’t understand the connection, when a government runs deficits, it adds to its debt. Clinton reduced the annual deficit until there was a surplus. That, dear sir, reduced the national debt. Bush turned around and added to it. When Obama reduced the annual deficit from 10% to 3.2%, he was reducing the national debt.

    After nearly a year of Trump it is back up to 3.5% and it will go much higher with the new tax bill. The result will be an increase in the national debt. This is what happened with the Reagan tax cuts, and he then had to raise taxes seven times, but that did not, primarily because of excessive defense spending, prevent the tripling of the national debt.

    By the way, the deficit for the Eurozone is now 1.3%, and their debt is now easing because of this. Greece is almost running a surplus with a deficit of only .8%. Socialist Sweden is running a 1% surplus.

    Yours for honest debate (hopefully one that does not needed to be repeated),

    Nick

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