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By Steve Boggs, publisher of The Saline Courier
Who is to blame for our $16 trillion national debt? Thatâ€™s easy, I am. So are you. So are our neighbors, friends, family members and community leaders. We, the taxpayers, allowed this reckless fiscal spending to get so far out of hand.
How many ways does federal spending touch your life? Whether it is through Social Security and Medicare, or a new stretch of I-30 asphalt, federal funding affects us all in some way or another.
Any time you hear the word â€śgrant,â€ť thatâ€™s likely a program funded by the federal government doling out money through a state or regional agency. Itâ€™s borrowed money, spent at the local level.
I went to college on Pell grants. That means the federal government pretty much paid for my degree in communications. Otherwise, I would not have gone to college.
Weâ€™re all â€śguiltyâ€ť of benefitting from federal spending in some way or another. Federal dollars make their way into our local school systems, into colleges and universities, even into the food we eat.
Thatâ€™s why cutting spending in Washington is so hard to do. The same politician that rails on C-Span for 30 minutes about fiscal discipline is the same guy who sends a press release out the next day about securing a grant for a new fire engine at the Anytown VFD.
They know federal funds equal votes, and as taxpayers we demand our share of the largesse. Weâ€™re addicted to it, and politicians know it. Thatâ€™s the true danger of borrowing money to maintain the status quo. Some call it a Nanny State. I just call it a no-win situation.
How addicted are we to federal spending? Try closing a military base.
How can we possibly expect everyone in this divided country to suddenly agree to have their own federal dollars cut in half? We certainly canâ€™t expect politicians to do it for us â€“ weâ€™d vote them out office for trying.
Most local and state governments have a mandate to balance the budget every year. If outlays are higher than income, they either cut spending or raise taxes (mostly they cut spending). We do the same in our homes every day. When times are good, the smart ones put some aside for a rainy day.
Not Washington. They just call Fort Worth and tell them to crank the presses up.
How bad has it become? Not only can we not live within a budget, we canâ€™t even write one in the first place. Who would have ever thought weâ€™d long for the days of being first in line at the federal trough (Read: budget)? Deficits are so large today, we canâ€™t even deal with them in one-year increments. Some budget talk sounds like weâ€™re making progress until that last little epitaph, â€śover 10 years.â€ť
Will the bubble burst, or can we just go on borrowing money indefinitely? At what point does this situation simply collapse on itself?
Sadly, there is no answer in sight because the only lobby powerful enough to find one is the taxpayers of this country. And weâ€™re not even looking.