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Paying Off The National Debt.


Embrace the Suck
First off I want to address a couple of things that I think are pertinent to this discussion, only because I think they should be clarified. I was watching Bill Maher this weekend and Elliot Spitzer was on there as well as a Tea Party guy. Spitzer made a comment about the Tea Partiers not knowing anything about economics and history then went on to show his ignorance in comments about Bill Clinton balancing the budget, yadda, yadda yadda.

First off it seems so many people, inlcuding Spitzer by his comments, don't know what a budget is. A budget is a projection of what is to be paid and what is to be received, it's not what actually is paid or received. It's a go-by for the upcoming year. Let's say a family budgets $150/month on groceries or a corporation budgets $20,000/year on travel expenses, that doesn't mean how much they actually will pay, but how much they plan on paying. Things throughout the year can affect what they actually do pay out. Gas prices can go up causing the corporation to pay more to travel than what was budgeted, or they can start using Skype so they travel less for meetings so their travel expenses end up being less. Maybe the families dog dies, so they end paying less in dog food which they included in their grocery budget. Secondly, just because the budget is balanced that doesn't absolve any debt. I could tighten up my budget and decide to spend less in eating out or buying new clothes, so that my monthly payments are less than my monthly receivables. That doesn't absolve me of my credit car debt or my car loan or my mortgage. It just balances it for this year and this year only, causing me not to incur any more debt, but my existing debt is still owed. Thirdly, and this is towards Spitzer's comment, under Article I sec. 8 of the Constitution, Congress has the power to tax and spend, not the President. The budget, the projection for the year, is drafted by Congress. Surely the President approves it or can veto it, but it's done by Congress. To say Clinton balanced the projection for that fiscal year is incorrect.

Now, about paying our debt. I agree with most of what Swift wrote above. A state's debt is somewhat arbitrary given the increase in globalization, but to me is still considered very important. I have never subscribed to the idea of printing more money, those kinds of Keynesian policies inevitably lead to devaluation of the dollar and results in inflation. I do think our spending has gotten out of control and needs to be reigned in. Federal spending only gives a temporary jolt to the economy and in the long run slows down any growth out of a recession. By most projections, in about 20 years our debt is going to exceed our GDP by over 100%, which will leave us in a situation akin to Greece recently.
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Registered Member
I also agree with most of what Swift said, but like CO don't think it should be written off entirely. Printing money devalues it, and that's risky. I remember hearing about Russians needing a wheelbarrow full of money just to buy food. Obviously there were other factors involved, but it serves as an example.

It's also important to keep in mind that inflation (at reasonable levels) is pretty much a constant. I'm not sure, but I don't think the debt ceiling adjusts for inflation.