Think you know how the US government dug itself into such a dept hole? Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii has come up with some astonishing numbers that shine a bright new light on our country’s national debt.
It turns out that the level of discretionary spending by the US government is unchanged compared to what it spent back in 2001. Yep, if you figure in inflation and population growth, we spend the same in that area as we did a decade ago. And, remember, back then the government had a surplus of 128 billion.
On the other hand, as you might expect, the cost of security programs is up a boisterous 74 percent from 2001 and the cost of mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare is up 32.2 percent.
But here’s the truly surprising part. Revenues — which is to say, the amount brought in primarily from taxes — those revenues are down 18.2 percent. This is astounding: as a percent of GDP, revenues have dropped to their lowest level since 1950.
“Are we really spending too much on non-defense programs?” Senator Inouye asked “The answer is clearly no,” he said. “Non-defense discretionary spending levels are essentially unchanged from 2001. There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to afford them today.” Inouye went on to say, “The focus of our deficit talks should not be on domestic discretionary spending, but on the real reason why we are not running a surplus: historically low revenues, soaring mandatory spending, and the cost of war.”
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You may be aware that Eugene Mirabelli writes most of the posts here. The gold medal he won for literary fiction shouldn’t obscure the fact that he also writes science fiction and fantasy - a shameful pleasure.
The critically acclaimed Lightspeed is one of the leading science fiction and fantasy magazines in the United States. Gene's "Love in Another Language" appears in the February issue.