$20 trillion for what?

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AP Photo/David Goldman

AP Photo/David Goldman

Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 9/30/16

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Donald Trump made a very good point during Monday’s debate that has not gotten the kind of attention that it deserves.

He said that a nation that is carrying $20 trillion in debt ought to have the best of everything. For that much money he said, every bridge, tunnel and road should be in tip-top shape. Our airports should be the envy of the world.

Those were the two examples Trump cited during the debate. There are many more.

For having borrowed and spent $20 trillion, our public schools should be gleaming, technologically-current temples of world-beating learning.

Far from being the scandalous mess that it currently is, the Veterans Affairs healthcare system should be delivering fast, efficient, cutting-edge health care to those who served our country in uniform.

Twenty trillion dollars in debt later, the roads and public facilities in our national parks should not be falling apart. United States Courthouses should not be the dilapidated, depressing, crumbling buildings that far too many of them are. The housing, training facilities, base and post exchanges and amenities on our military bases should be first rate – rather than falling in on themselves as is too often the case.

And for what we owe, the War on Poverty should have long ago been won. This is the biggest outrage of all.

RELATED: The Latest News From the [poverty] Front.

Since President Lyndon Johnson declared the War on Poverty in 1965, we have spent $17 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Take that spending out, and the $20 trillion national debt all but disappears.

Yet that $17 trillion spent fighting poverty has yielded pretty close to nothing. The poverty rate in America in 2016 is little changed from the rate in 1965. It’s in fact edging up.

As staggering a number as $20 trillion is, it’s not even close to the totality of what the United States has spent. It’s the amount of spending beyond the massive amount that the government couldn’t cover out of current tax receipts – and was thus forced to borrow.

No nation has ever borrowed so much money. No nation has ever spent so much money. Never in human history has so much money been spent with so little to show for having spent it.

If the CEO of a publicly traded company spent shareholder money as ineptly, irresponsibly and unaccountably as the federal government spends the money it takes from us in taxes, the best consequence he could hope for would be loss of his job. He could just as likely face going to prison.

What Trump failed to press is this. Hillary Clinton wants to borrow and spend even more money on things that are beyond the constitutional purview, the competence and now the financial capacity of the federal government. If we have learned nothing in 50 years, we have learned that the federal government spends staggering amounts of money on problems that it never solves.

This is an issue that resonates across party lines. Trump should hammer it relentlessly between now and election day.

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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6 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    While there is no doubt that Secretary Clinton’s economic plans would in fact raise the national debt, there is an implicit assumption in your article that Mr. Trump has a better plan. Currently the United States spends approximately 80% of it’s budget on Social Security, Medicare, defense, and interest on the debt. Any serious plan will need to address those areas. Can you please elaborate on Mr Trump’s plans to fix our national debt crisis?

    • Paul Gleiser says:

      That was not the thrust of the piece. The piece addresses the largely unchallenged assumption that pervades virtually all political discourse that for every problem or challenge, the means toward a solution lies in spending more federal money. The fact that trillions in spending has produced next to nothing in the way of desirable results is too little examined and too little challenged.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m going to give you and your readers/listeners a bit of advice that I learned early in my career. I was a young computer scientist, right out of college. Like most young college graduates, I thought I knew everything. Counting source lines of code (SLOC) was the predominant way of measuring the size of a project at that time. While examining my organization’s methodology for counting SLOC, I determined that we were overestimating the amount of code we were reusing in each successive project. I pointed this error out to a senior member of our group, an MIT graduate with much more real world experience. He looked at me and said, “So tell me a better way.” I walked away dejected because I had no solutions. With all due respect Mr. Gleiser, our politicians are already quite adept at pointing out what is wrong, but actually provide real solutions is “too little examined and too little challenged”.

  2. Linda E Montrose says:

    First of all, Mr. Trump knows more about how this country SHOULD be run than the resident illegal or the clintons ever will know! So whatever plan he has, is far and above anything the resident illegal has done or the clintons ever did! All the clintons ever did for this country was run businesses out of the country and all the resident illegal has done is run them in the ground. The clintons are DESTROYERS not EMPLOYERS!

    Now for the article. What this is called is digging the deepest hole you can to bury yourself in!!!

  3. Richard Anderson says:

    Excellent essay Mr. Gleiser! I couldn’t agree more.
    ——————————————————————-
    As a Christian and a Catholic which I am, I will be voting for Donald Trump. If any reader out there happens to also be a Christian, a Catholic, or a person of goodwill, I hope you believe as do I, that to vote for any democrat who supports so many immoral positions as Hillary Clinton and her democrat associates, the most paramount of which she believes that abortion is OK, is WRONG. And if you “sit out” this election, and don’t vote for Mr. Trump, that is a de facto vote for Hillary. Don’t let that happen, get out and vote for Trump! – because The United States of America as we know it, is on the line.

  4. R. Eagleman says:

    Anonymous is asking for some specifics on a better way to address our budget deficit and national debt, and what Donald Trump plans to do in this regard. Actually this is a very good question, as entitlements and some other large expenditures are on autopilot, which no one, including Trump, has dared to tackle. However, any logical person can assume that someone who has competed in the private sector will have better equipment to start digging us out of this pit than someone who has been on the government payroll for most of her adult life. I do not care what anyone says about the insignificance of waste, fraud, and abuse; a billion here and a billion there begin to add up. There have been news reports that $6 BILLION have been unaccounted for in the State Department during Sec. Clinton’s tenure. I agree with Trump that many of the countries that we are spending billions to defend should help with their own security. The United Nations has devolved into a convention of tyrants and despots, which we should not be funding at the present level, if at all. We need to repeal some of the civil service laws which protect incompetence; just witness the V.A., the U.S.P.S. and just about every bureaucracy in the federal government. I have only scratched the surface, but these are just a few of the areas that a President Trump has stated a willingness to change. What are the odds that a President Clinton will have any inclination to reduce the size of the federal government? Granted, we are not certain what to expect from the “devil that we DO NOT know”, but any person who has paid any attention to the Clinton history over the last 3 decades, should know what to expect from the “devil that we DO know”!

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