Sunday, March 5, 2017

We might be over driving our headlights

"We spend way too much money, with very few solutions on how to cover those expenses. And right now, we are seeing this play out, live and in color."

A week ago tomorrow, we were on our last leg of our journey home. We stayed in Ottumwa, Iowa, and we were "wheels up" at first light. As I was packing up the truck, I noticed a thick layer of fog moving in. By the time we checked out and got on the freeway, we could hardly see 200 feet in front of the truck. I was very careful not to go too fast, and my spider senses were tingling. I put my hazard lights on so faster moving vehicles behind me could see we were at a reduced speed. In short, due to the conditions, I did not want to "overdrive my headlights".

Ready for this? Here comes the leap. I often think of that phrase when I think of our country. In particular, the way we manage our resources (money) in this country. We spend way too much money, with have very few solutions on how to cover those expenses. And right now, we are seeing this play out, live and in color.

In our national budget, we have certain items which are now considered to be sacrosanct. That would be our entitlements. President Trump has ensured the public that he would not touch those entitlements. Because they were compacts the citizens made with the government. And he is right on that. However, anyone with a half a brain knows we are on the road to nowhere so long as we do not "fix" Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and now ObamaCare. As each one of these stands right now, they are 100% unsustainable. To keep going down this path acting fat, dumb and happy is driving beyond our headlights - big time.

Not to belabor this point, but recent leaks on what the "fix" will be for our nation's healthcare show a significant cost shifting of Medicaid dollars back to the states. The state of Minnesota has just done some quick math on this shift. It shows a boat load of money that will now have to be "ponied up" by Minnesota instead of getting it from the federal government. Because we have waited this long to really fix the unsustainable nature of Medicaid, those enormous costs are now looking for a home. Once again, this issue is due to us over driving our headlights for many years, and not fixing it earlier.

One more example - even though there are many, many more. For the past eight years, President Obama was ignored the care and feeding of our military. He put the ever increasing missions of our military on auto pilot. Now that he is gone and we have a new POTUS who feels the primary purpose of the federal government to be national security, we need to spend a lot of money to catch up. To fix the needs of each service. That increase will be slightly over $50B this year.

Here is the bottom line. Our nation spends more than we take in. Year after year, POTUS after POTUS, Congress after Congress. As a nation, we are addicted to spending. What is the cure? Sadly, only a balanced budget amendment. We need to be forced to "pay as we go". If Trump wants to spend an additional $50B on the military, there needs to be an exact offset for that amount. Or an increase in revenue.

I am sorry to say this. But I really do feel this way. We are like addicts. Addicts with no off switch. Addicts who over drive their headlights. And we all know what happens to addicts when they never take the cure. It does not turn out well.


1 comment:

  1. They've tried all kinds of legislative fixes to balance the budget over the years, and the only one that actual works is just cutting spending! A BBA might sound good, but already there are a lot of things that are "entitlements" or "off budget" and that's where the problems lie. Heck, done that way, we could declare the budget balanced tomorrow! And slick politicians would do exactly that. Now, gimmicks like the "penny plan" or "zero based budgeting" would work, but only if the political will was sustained.