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A toxic legacy for my generation

Trillion dollar deficits, once considered a temporary stimulative measure aimed at healing the wounds of the Great Re...

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 4:12 PM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 4:12 PM

Trillion dollar deficits, once considered a temporary stimulative measure aimed at healing the wounds of the Great Recession, are becoming accepted as business as usual in Washington.

As budget deals are hashed out and both parties reach common ground on issues that affect all Americans, talk of fiscal discipline is curiously absent. It appears we've reached a new bipartisan consensus that's troubling for the taxpayers of tomorrow -- in Beltway politics, deficits don't matter anymore. As a 33-year-old, I'm one of those who ultimately will have to pay the price.

Nearly a decade ago, red ink was splattered all over our nation's balance sheet, and that caused an uproar among countless Americans. The federal government blew a gaping hole in our budget, funding unprecedented efforts to stabilize the economy on the heels of a near-depression.

Today, while prosperity and stability have been restored, Washington has once again come to rely on what's being treated as an infinite supply of debt just to fund regular operations. In the midst of the best economy we've seen in recent years, instead of saving for a rainy day, we're pursuing policies that are creating ever-yawning public deficits.

Our leaders are purposefully turning a blind eye to our growing liabilities as a nation to strike politically expedient budget deals. In the short term, legislative deal-making funded with future generations' money is an astute strategy to avoid government shutdowns -- which have happened twice this year.

In the long run, however, if we continue to ignore the consequences of our addiction to borrowed money, we'll see an increasingly larger slice of our budget siphoned off just to pay interest on the debt. This is why deficits should matter: They eat up future revenue that we desperately need as the costs of already promised entitlements continue to spiral upward.

Right now, more than 10,000 baby boomers are retiring daily. People like my parents have been guaranteed government benefits to fund their golden years because they've paid into the system their whole lives.

The federal government's obligations are already on track to strain our nation's budget for the foreseeable future. Needless to say, sustaining our newly christened trillion-dollar deficits will surely not improve our government's budgetary prospects.

Additionally, the surging costs of entitlements aren't the only monetary problem the government faces in our immediate future. Our national infrastructure is in desperate need of a fiscal shot in the arm. Many suspect that a substantial (and wise) investment in upgrading the backbone of our economy is on the policy horizon. Where exactly the funds will come from is still in question, especially when the federal government is already borrowing an eye-popping amount of money this fiscal year.

Make no mistake: Persistent federal deficits will create politically difficult decisions down the road. As it stands, the lion's share of our budget already is gobbled up by entitlements and military spending. That leaves little wiggle room for any other meaningful allocations without damaging our fiscal health.

Even worse, if we encounter more economically turbulent times, the federal government likely will see its revenue drop precipitously. As a result, the public purse will have to borrow merely to sustain present spending levels. If we see another financial crisis, many politicians and economists will call for another round of rescue-driven stimulus, and we'll see our deficits creep ever higher.

Borrowing cannot be sustained forever, and there are some prominent voices clamoring for us to address our federal government's addiction to debt. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Sen. Rand Paul are figures who have unequivocally expressed their concerns on this front, and they blame both major political parties for their lack of focus on fiscal discipline. We can only hope that more leaders like Greenspan and Paul will step forward and explain to the public the dismal state of our government finances.

Most Americans are fiscally conservative and would be aghast at the current state of affairs if they were in the know. Unfortunately, few people can truly grasp the gargantuan size, mathematically, of $1 trillion.

Debt is an important part of a modern economy, and it should be a tool that our country uses to make strategic investments in our future. Trillion-dollar deficits shouldn't be leveraged to secure short-lived, partisan budget deals that kick the can further down the road. Leaving a fiscal mess for tomorrow's taxpayers is a toxic legacy that our elected leaders should avoid at all costs.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 1656
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Hennepin18009819
Ramsey6944261
Dakota3991103
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Washington191743
Nobles17466
Olmsted162923
Scott139014
Mower10812
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Clay74540
Kandiyohi6761
Sherburne6497
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Todd4202
Lyon4163
Freeborn3541
Steele3301
Nicollet31213
Benton3063
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Crow Wing21313
Martin2045
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Beltrami1930
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Goodhue1768
Otter Tail1763
Cottonwood1710
Becker1431
Pipestone1439
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Itasca13212
Polk1313
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Renville595
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 45774

Reported Deaths: 883
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Polk9723203
Woodbury365151
Black Hawk300362
Linn210887
Johnson193315
Dallas178935
Buena Vista178512
Scott159312
Dubuque153729
Marshall138924
Pottawattamie121723
Story110914
Wapello84932
Muscatine82648
Webster7255
Crawford7193
Sioux5952
Cerro Gordo57617
Tama53729
Warren5281
Jasper45524
Plymouth4438
Wright4431
Louisa37914
Dickinson3754
Clinton3173
Washington28710
Hamilton2411
Boone2282
Franklin2205
Bremer1877
Clarke1863
Carroll1811
Emmet1791
Clay1711
Hardin1650
Shelby1611
Marion1530
Allamakee1514
Poweshiek1468
Benton1431
Jackson1411
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Mahaska13617
Floyd1292
Guthrie1265
Jones1242
Cedar1201
Hancock1172
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Henry1133
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Buchanan1111
Lyon1020
Madison1022
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Cherokee971
Harrison970
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Taylor930
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