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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 591445

Reported Deaths: 7367
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1224421730
Ramsey51212875
Dakota45791452
Anoka41604438
Washington26834283
Stearns22196222
St. Louis17734303
Scott17244124
Wright16009139
Olmsted1322598
Sherburne1167187
Carver1047545
Clay814492
Rice8037107
Blue Earth749641
Crow Wing663189
Kandiyohi654283
Chisago596651
Otter Tail574078
Benton568297
Goodhue477272
Douglas466375
Mower464832
Winona453950
Itasca435556
McLeod422559
Isanti419664
Morrison418260
Nobles407648
Beltrami394459
Steele386715
Polk383568
Becker379751
Lyon360251
Carlton345054
Freeborn341529
Pine327822
Nicollet325643
Brown305040
Mille Lacs303253
Le Sueur290922
Todd281632
Cass271328
Meeker255740
Waseca235922
Martin230531
Roseau209019
Wabasha20513
Hubbard188341
Dodge18453
Renville179743
Redwood174037
Houston171616
Cottonwood164821
Fillmore155910
Wadena155922
Pennington153619
Chippewa152138
Faribault152119
Kanabec144326
Sibley143110
Aitkin134736
Watonwan13219
Rock128119
Jackson121712
Pipestone115426
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11006
Murray10619
Swift105218
Stevens90411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86616
Koochiching82715
Wilkin81112
Lake80919
Lac qui Parle75222
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5748
Mahnomen5469
Norman5399
Unassigned48993
Kittson48622
Red Lake3957
Traverse3695
Lake of the Woods3243
Cook1620

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 366827

Reported Deaths: 5937
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57596625
Linn20845335
Scott20025241
Black Hawk15803308
Woodbury15128228
Johnson1447483
Dubuque13368208
Dallas1117898
Pottawattamie11113168
Story1061248
Warren577088
Clinton555593
Cerro Gordo539789
Sioux514474
Webster512393
Marshall482975
Muscatine480799
Des Moines455766
Wapello4299122
Buena Vista424540
Jasper418872
Plymouth401180
Lee375755
Marion362575
Jones298957
Henry291637
Carroll285752
Bremer284360
Crawford266440
Boone264534
Benton256455
Washington254150
Dickinson248343
Mahaska230351
Jackson221742
Clay215525
Kossuth215364
Delaware209541
Tama209571
Winneshiek196834
Page192622
Buchanan191232
Cedar190023
Hardin185243
Fayette185041
Wright184637
Hamilton179849
Harrison179573
Clayton169456
Butler164934
Mills162322
Madison162219
Floyd160542
Cherokee158738
Lyon157941
Poweshiek154734
Allamakee151551
Iowa148724
Hancock147834
Winnebago142431
Cass138554
Calhoun138413
Grundy136333
Emmet134140
Jefferson132335
Shelby131037
Sac130319
Union128333
Louisa128049
Appanoose127949
Mitchell126342
Chickasaw124015
Guthrie121530
Franklin120021
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112723
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100124
Unassigned9710
Keokuk95831
Monroe95229
Ida90535
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis82924
Monona82830
Osceola78616
Greene77610
Lucas77323
Worth7478
Taylor65812
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Van Buren55818
Ringgold55624
Wayne53923
Audubon51010
Adams3384
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