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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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 485230

Reported Deaths: 6554
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1006801585
Ramsey43047801
Dakota36254390
Anoka33274384
Washington22065255
Stearns18723201
St. Louis14794262
Scott13273107
Wright12517115
Olmsted1177988
Sherburne871572
Carver771040
Clay690387
Rice670091
Blue Earth593835
Kandiyohi579474
Crow Wing519681
Chisago498445
Otter Tail481870
Benton446190
Winona418049
Mower404131
Douglas392568
Nobles386847
Goodhue385568
Polk342762
McLeod339349
Beltrami337351
Morrison324247
Lyon313044
Itasca312746
Becker310941
Isanti305754
Carlton300149
Steele299711
Pine282016
Freeborn280523
Nicollet258141
Todd247830
Brown244637
Le Sueur235020
Mille Lacs227247
Cass219924
Waseca208917
Meeker207434
Martin189328
Wabasha18623
Roseau180217
Hubbard160640
Houston157314
Dodge15214
Renville149540
Redwood147027
Fillmore13728
Chippewa136335
Cottonwood134820
Pennington134116
Wadena130920
Faribault122917
Aitkin118933
Sibley117310
Watonwan11728
Rock115714
Kanabec107419
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9438
Jackson93510
Swift87918
Pope8025
Marshall77815
Stevens7418
Lake73718
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68316
Wilkin67110
Koochiching61811
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5062
Grant4918
Unassigned47968
Norman4768
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40821
Red Lake3625
Traverse3055
Lake of the Woods2191
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 362189

Reported Deaths: 5414
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58146549
Linn20653312
Scott18288207
Black Hawk16249291
Woodbury14961211
Johnson1383473
Dubuque13537194
Dallas1135890
Pottawattamie10765143
Story1021645
Warren555274
Clinton543284
Cerro Gordo533681
Webster518787
Marshall496272
Sioux494369
Buena Vista473236
Des Moines457661
Muscatine451191
Wapello4330108
Jasper416966
Plymouth394577
Lee375352
Marion359069
Jones294154
Henry292737
Carroll285548
Bremer280154
Crawford274735
Boone259630
Washington254147
Benton252854
Mahaska224346
Jackson221438
Dickinson217439
Tama213465
Kossuth208154
Clay193525
Hamilton192042
Delaware188839
Winneshiek188427
Buchanan185129
Fayette185035
Page183219
Hardin181039
Wright179731
Harrison179669
Cedar177923
Clayton168053
Butler166331
Mills163120
Floyd162740
Madison154518
Cherokee153935
Poweshiek153730
Hancock146829
Lyon145841
Allamakee145646
Iowa144423
Appanoose139147
Grundy139030
Jefferson138232
Winnebago138230
Cass134151
Calhoun133711
Mitchell130840
Louisa128241
Union126331
Chickasaw125213
Sac124218
Emmet121240
Shelby121033
Franklin118419
Humboldt117425
Guthrie116528
Palo Alto104921
Montgomery103936
Howard103121
Clarke100520
Unassigned9890
Keokuk98129
Monroe93128
Adair91928
Ida91032
Pocahontas85519
Davis82623
Monona81627
Greene77310
Lucas73821
Osceola70514
Worth6987
Taylor66412
Fremont5919
Decatur5789
Van Buren55918
Ringgold52020
Wayne48821
Audubon4869
Adams3264
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