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October 30, 2007

A Washington official dares to tell the truth

Washington is bankrupting future generations. The longer we wait to address the $9 trillion national debt and ongoing annual budget deficits, the more taxes our children and grandchildren will have to pay, says David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, head of the General Accountability Office and just about the only public official in Washington these days telling the truth about the country's fiscal situation. We're basically taxing future generations without representation (because they can't vote or haven't been born), which he says is immoral.

Walker was at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County yesterday in Catonsville on the road show he calls the "Fiscal Wake Up Tour" to shake America out of denial about where we are going. He was accompanied by people from different parts of the political spectrum: the deficit-hating Concord Coalition, the moderate Brookings Institution, the right-leaning Heritage Foundation. Walker himself, according to a New York Times profile, was once a conservative Democrat, then a moderate Republican and now is an independent.

This is the 24th state that the Wake Up Tour has called on. Walker has been on 60 Minutes and gotten lots of press. His audience at UMBC yesterday was largely made up of the people who most need to hear the message: young people whose standard of living will be hurt and whose taxes will rise because of the profligacy of the baby-boom generation. Some highlights from the session:

Walker: "If you want low taxes [in the future], then all the more reason that we have to act sooner rather than later." The longer we wait to address the problem either by raising taxes now or cutting benefits for Medicare and Social Security, he says, the higher taxes will have to rise for our children.

Walker: The present value of future unfunded liabilities for Medicare, Social Security and other plans is $53 trillion.

Walker: "You're supposed to leave the country not just the way you found it, but better prepared for the future. The baby boom generation is failing on that."

Walker: President Bush's Medicare drug plan and the way it was sold to Congress and the public was "unconscionable." The true, $8 trillion pricetag "was never calculated, disclosed or debated."

Walker: The $9 trillion national debt is much more important than the budget deficit. Through the miracle of compound interest on the debt, he says, it will eat up more and more of the country's resources.

Walker: Bush's commission to address Social Security was "a total waste of time" because it refused to rule out personal accounts, which was a deal breaker from the start.

Walker: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are "going to cost $2 trillion by the time we're done." [They're up to around half a trillion now.]

Walker: The biggest deficit in this country right now is "leadership."

Walker: If private corporations published balance sheets the way the federal government does, their leaders would go to jail.

All four panelsts gave impassioned calls for maturity and leadership from Washington. The country has to start paying for new programs without borrowing more money. There must be spending caps on new programs. Once programs reach a certain size there should be "mandatory reconsideration triggers" to make sure they don't swallow the budget. True cost estimates must be published. The budget process has to start looking forward more than five years or ten years at the most. The federal government needs to make full disclosure of liabilities the way industry and state governments do. We desperately need an independent, blue-ribbon commission to make hard budget choices the way the realignment commission makes tough choices on closing military bases. That would allow the chickenhearted Congress to avoid making the hard choices and merely vote up or down on the plan.

Why doesn't a White House that has injected politics even into the process of choosing federal prosecutors fire Walker tomorrow? It can't. He was appointed in the Clinton administration and has a 15-year term, which means he has great independence. Listen to him. People under the age of 30, especially, should be raising hell.

Posted by Jay Hancock at 10:54 AM | | Comments (8)
        

Comments

I hate to break it to you, but THIS generation is being taxed without representation.

Yes, there are people whose jobs it is to represent us, but they take bribes from corporations and Israelis and only represent their interests, not the interests of the American people.

For approximately 40 years, profligate government spending and budget deficits have been enabled the Federal Reserve, which has obligingly created the dollars to pay for them.

At the same time, we have spread these dollars all over the world because imports have exceeded exports. At first, the source of trade deficits was oil, but we now import massive quantities of consumer goods along with oil. For years, the world accepted these fiat dollars, but a quick reading of the financial press will disclose that the dollar is not so welcome abroad as it once was.

I am grateful for David Walker and the truth of his message. He is one of the few in our government who has the right information, as well as the courage, to say that the emperor has no clothes.


We're basically taxing future generations without representation (because they can't vote or haven't been born), which [...] is immoral.

Yes. This is the crux of the issue, morality.

There's nothing relative about this morality Jay Hancock is holding up as if a crucifix in the face of these immoral devils.

The spending away of the future's prospects in a gamble where the wager of the gamble is the prospect for the future of those yet unborn is categorically immoral.

As empirical knowledge was once considered to be in its relationship and position relative to superstition, so too is now Categorcial Knowledge to empirical (pragmatic) knowledge.

Holding up the known Categorical Truths when these truths are known, must force restraint upon these empirical barbarians who have so imperiled the world by their endless pragmatic destruction of it.

The false notion acting as an impetus to the pragmatists, is that we can make life better.

They have only made life worse.

We must consider that the failed gambles of the past act cumulatively to lessen every prospect of an hospitable future.

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher

This is the same old message. another good oresentation of this tragedy is the book America In Depression: the coming economic collapse. Of course you are correct - right on. Its just that we all enjoy the fruits of our largess - and even want more -- so don't tell me that we cant have it -- NOW.
...but keep on keeping on!

The future generations will not tolerate the level of taxation required. They will not be bound to a criminal contrived confiscation of their wealth. When sufficient oxes have been gored then there will be a restoration of morals and the application of law and liberty. I would not want to be a judge or banker in that time. It was never in man's power to "enforce the rule of law". This is a lie which derives its only power from fear and intimidation. When men and women understand that it is only fear and willful submission that gives these reprobates their power then this perversion will be brought to a hasty conclusion. There will be unnecessary suffering until this basic realization is made manifest.

Read between the lines and Walker is saying we need a fiscally responsible person in the White House. Ron Paul is all that and much more. The nation is catching on.

Mr. Walker's has provided 1001 reasons to support RON PAUL for president. The Hatch Act probably makes it illegal for Mr. Walker to actually endorse DR. PAUL.

Jay Hancock,

I’m encouraged by David Walker’s, and others’, effort of traveling the country to warn people of approaching disaster.
But, they understate the magnitude.
David Walker reports that total federal debt stands at fifty-three (53) trillion as of 2006 Sep 30 (Financial Report of the US Government (frusg)).
It is more like one hundred and seventy-five (175) trillion, or two hundred (200) trillion, depending on the set of assumptions used.
David’s number of fifty-three (53) trillion is composed of two categories: “liabilities” (ten (10) trillion) and “social responsibilities” (forty-three (43) trillion). The latter is measured in “present value” dollars while the former is measured in unadjusted dollars.
To add one to the other is like adding apples and oranges, feet and yards, miles and leagues. It doesn’t work like that. You first have to convert one to the other, then add.
By using the formula provided in the 2006 frusg, I arrived at a total federal debt of more than one hundred and seventy-five trillion; here, you see, is debt to cannibalize future generations of Americans… to the end of time.
Another perspective: David describes the government’s policies as “unsustainable”; a professional economist describes them as “system-dooming”; I describe them as “civilization-destroying”. With such differences, someone understates the case.
Study my articles [http://redressofgrievance.biz/fed_res.htm] (many links included), and see how you describe them.
Another item: David opines that, if private businessmen issued financial reports as governments do, they’d go to jail. Well, David signs such reports. Still, when it comes time for war-crimes trials, I would exempt David and those associated with his tour; they should be commended for their uncommon effort to warn people of the consequences of eating their children… altho they stand before glazed eyes, and speak to deaf ears.
There is precedent for what we must live thru. Rome and Carthage were at war, with many reverses for the latter. Carthaginian priests blamed such reverses on lack of piety by the people; and required sacrifice of children. People brought children by hundreds to the temple. They were placed on the sloping arms of a bronze statue of the local god, and rolled into waiting flames. Pipes and drums sounded loudly and people danced wildly – all to express joy, and drown cries and shrieks of roasting infants. If parents showed any remorse, they lost credit for their donation. Rome was one of the more brutal occupiers of history; but, every now and then, a trace of nobility came to the surface; when Romans entered the city and learned what happened, they hung priests before their temples.
We should not do less; after all, Carthaginians burned only three hundred children; Americans have set in motion consequences that, if allowed to run, will consume generations of Americans to the end of time.

Anthony Hargis

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About Jay Hancock
Jay Hancock has been a financial columnist for The Baltimore Sun since 2001. He has also been The Baltimore Sun's diplomatic correspondent in Washington and its chief economics writer. Before moving to Baltimore in 1994 he worked for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Daily Press of Newport News.

His columns appear Tuesdays and Sundays.
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