If you’re not familiar with the present value of America’s debt, the answer may anger or even frighten you. Including liabilities and obligations, our nation’s debt stands at a whopping $61.6 trillion. And some estimates put it at over $100 trillion. The $14 trillion national debt politicians and the media routinely cite only scratches the surface of our debt crisis. Missing from the $14 trillion figure is the money we have promised to Americans paying into programs like Social Security and Medicare. These programs, which are vital to our seniors, are quickly headed toward bankruptcy. We must reform them to preserve our promise to America’s seniors and get our budget back on track.
The sad reality is that, although balancing the budget and capping spending are absolutely essential in preventing the further explosion of our debt, they don’t solve the problem.
I’m a businessman first and foremost. I understand that businesses must include off-budget expenditures on their balance sheets in order to represent the future health of a company accurately. Yet the federal government does not report such expenditures in debt-calculation figures. If a CEO did the same, they would be removed by the board and likely face criminal charges for misleading the public and investors.
Once we do factor in liabilities and obligations to our total debt, it’s clear that America is in big trouble unless we act now.
According to recent CBO projections, the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted by 2036, and Medicare’s by 2024. Once this occurs, benefits will start to be reduced for existing and new beneficiaries.
A Heritage Foundation study found that, if we continue on the current course, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending would exceed total government revenue by 2052.
Unfortunately, politicians are more interested in hiding behind empty rhetoric to win elections than pursuing an honest approach to addressing the “third rail” of American politics.
We could point our fingers solely at Democrats for refusing to negotiate entitlement reform, but that wouldn’t be fair. The truth is most Republican candidates running for federal office offer one-sentence platitudes about their “plan” to reform entitlements. My opponents in the Texas Senate race refuse to offer ideas for reform. Those unwilling to reform entitlements or offer substance on the issue are the very same people who would allow the destruction of those programs.
In 2005, Pres. George W. Bush understood that entitlements were a ticking time bomb and called for bipartisan action to make Social Security solvent for future generations. Democrats demagogued Bush’s plan, falsely claiming the system was in no danger of insolvency, and instilled fear in the public by claiming Bush wanted to completely “privatize” Social Security. Congressional Republicans, more concerned about their own careers than about saving entitlements, waved the white flag and allowed President Bush to fight alone in a public-relations battle he lost decisively. As they should have been, many of those congressional Republicans were swept out of office in the 2006 elections, after showing they lacked the will to address the nation’s critical challenges.