Thursday, March 17, 2016

Four letter words

"The first four letter word which has not been mentioned is the dirtiest word in politics - debt." 

I think with the coarsening of the political debate this year, we have all needed to have our earplugs close by. Sometimes the language could get downright salty! However, being a retired sailor, I have heard worse - much worse. That being said, there were two four letter words which I did not hear mentioned by anyone.

The first four letter word which has not been mentioned is the dirtiest word in politics - debt. And why is that word so toxic? Because it is so hard for us to come to grips with. And yet, that word, that concept called debt, is going to kill our economy. Kill it so bad it will change the way we live our lives - for generations yet to come. Why, oh why then, is this debt thing so hard to deal with? So hard to even talk about?

The answer to that question is so simple it is almost embarrassing. Listening to the Democratic debates might give us all some insight. Huge new programs being promised with no real concrete way of paying for them. (Hint: saying you are going to get "big banks" or Wall Street to pay for them is a fool's errand.) More unfunded programs = more debt.

This morning our national debt stands at $19.1 trillion dollars. And both sides, Republicans and Democrats, have been complicit in running up this tab. Here is the ironic part of this number. Not one breathing soul has addressed how we will stop this number from growing one more penny. Not one. And stopping this debt is the triage. We need to stop the bleeding. Once the bleeding is stopped, we then need to figure out how to bring the patient back to health (reduce the debt).

The second four letter word (which is ancillary to the debt word) is math. Nobody in the nation's capital is capable of doing math anymore. If they were, they would see how expensive it is for us just to carry this huge debt from month to month. That number now is over $20 billion per month. And if Fed Chief Yellen decides to raise interest rates again (even a quarter of a point), that number goes up. More money spent on debt = less money for anything else. Basic math.

One might think with all the other issues going on in the world, the debt should be one of our greatest concerns. But it is not. Like I say, nary a word has been mentioned. It will be interesting when Mr. Trump is debating Ms. Clinton. If this word is mentioned by either of them. And by the way - just saying we are going to be "great" once again is not a plan. It is only a campaign slogan. 

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