Deficit Difficulties

Over the past few days, as I have enjoyed too much food and too little homework, I was again bombarded the all-too familiar far-right rhetoric that my extended family tends to uncritically embrace.  This, combined with a few lovely episodes of largely baseless and hawkish commentary espoused by Glenn Beck made me again appreciate my thoughtful and analytical political science friends at Whitworth.

            But, over the course of the past week, I noticed a recurrent theme in the political concerns I encountered.  Glenn Beck, citing a New York Times article which I read earlier in the day, ranted about the nation’s increasing deficit, and the coming cataclysmic effects of our problems.  Then on Thanksgiving, my grandpa and aunt complained about the deficit for a bit, noting some fear-evoking statement about the fact that the profit from the top 150 Fortune 500 companies couldn’t pay off the national debt for the next 150 years, or something similarly ridiculous.  Naturally, Glenn Beck and my relatives immediately identify Obama as the reason for this financial madness and debt.  Finally, in the past few days I have read a few articles that identify Dubai as a possible harbinger of the problems national debt poses, and the possibly horrendous global effects, which further piqued my interest on the matter.

            With this in mind, and because I in part share similar concerns in regards the nation’s tendency to borrow, I thought it would be appropriate to briefly discuss the President, national debt, and the budget.  As my grandpa pointed out, our generation will be the one footing the bill for this spending.  (I am not going to discuss the merit of this spending, as the combination of wars, economic crisis, domestic programs, and the lowering of taxes all arguably play a role in the current difficulties this nation faces).  Therefore, we must consider its implications, and how to deal with these debt issues.

            First, and perhaps most importantly, we notice in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution that the power over money and national debt is explicitly granted to Congress.  Therefore, I would suggest that debt is first and foremost a Congressional issue, and not a Presidential one.  I would suspect that this is a common misconception.  Although the President is obviously heavily involved in matters of money because of the legislation he proposes (depending of course, on who is President), and the money required to finance the executive’s many agencies.  But, as American citizens, we ought to call on our legislators and immediate representatives to balance our national budget and to work vigorously towards reducing national debt, or we may face the consequences of higher taxes as the U.S. foots an increasing interest bill year after year.

            Second, I think the President does still play an important role in this matter.  As I previously mentioned, the President’s role as head of the executive branch does require a certain amount of financial oversight that pertains to the many departments and agencies over which he administrates.  Thus, the President can work towards lesser spending by submitting smaller estimated budgets to Congress.  This of course, would likely require the ending of certain programs and shrinking the size of some agencies, which inevitably stirs controversy as particular constituencies find their interests pushed aside.  Furthermore, proposed legislation must be fiscally responsible.  This is both an obligation for the executive and the legislature, but under Obama, who has been especially vigorous in proposing health care, we must remember that reform must include sustainable finances.

            The above are obviously primarily theoretical suggestions, and not so much a commentary on what specific measures the Congress and the executive must take to tackle this deficit.  But this burgeoning deficit is a problem that requires action in the immediate future, and I hope our representatives on both sides of the aisle are up to the task.  Finally, I would like to note that this blog is not an endorsement of a particular political perspective, because both sides of the political spectrum are quite at fault in contributing to this problem, and so I reiterate that both sides must address the problem.

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~ by aakort on November 28, 2009.

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