$20 trillion for what?
Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 9/30/16
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.
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.