The US is drowning in red ink … and it keeps getting worse. I caught up with Fox Business anchor Liz Claman to get a Cheat Sheet for crazy government spending:
Damien Hoffmna: Liz, politicians seem to be treating the debt limit like a joke — we’ve been raising it for decades. How can we get drunken sailors to limit the bottles at the bar?
Liz Claman: I wouldn’t say anyone in Washington is treating it like a joke. They’re truly nervous about it because they don’t know what will happen if we don’t raise the debt ceiling. What I would say is that neither side is getting serious at ALL about cutting spending. The Republicans said, “We’ll raise it but only if you marry that with spending cuts.” They started out strong.
Rep. Paul Ryan came up with a good starting point but Democrats pounced on it saying it would cut too much from Medicare/Medicaid. His Republican brethren were fine with it until they heard from their constituents who flipped out, yelling, “Why should our Medicare get cut? Tax the wealthy.” In the end, everyone wants to get reelected instead of doing the right — and obviously painful — thing. Cut Medicare and Medicaid.
Damien: Why exactly do we need to keep raising the ceiling? You mentioned Medicare and Medicaid. Where else is the federal government spending and why are those areas important? What percentage is waste and ill-gotten lobbying favors?
Liz: Lobbying favors are everywhere. In fact, they’re so pervasive that the only place housing prices (NYSE:IYR) are rising in America is in Washington DC! That’s because the lobbyist are making loads of money convincing lawmakers to keep the pork coming to industries like Big Pharma (NYSE:XLV) and Mortgage/Housing sector so they can buy fancy beltway townhouses.
The debt ceiling needs to be raised so our credit rating remains triple A. If we lose that status, the cost of all the money this nation borrows to keep running would go way up. Listen, just go look at the voting records of most Republicans and in the past they voted to raise the debt ceiling, Democrats too. But never before was this country in so much debt. At some point someone’s got to stop and say, “Before we do this, some cutting has to be done.”
Damien: Liz, the debt has clearly been built over time. What should young Americans think? Should the boomers be ashamed?
Liz: Young Americans tend to be way more sanguine and understanding of the fact that social security won’t be there for them by the time they need it. It’s older Americans who should feel a little shame. They need to back down and understand that we’re all going to have to get a little less from the government in order to pay down this debt — fewer services, less excessive healthcare, smaller social security payouts.
Damien: Alright. You’ve explained the problems with the debt. How would you get us out of this mess if you were President of the US?
Liz: I would look Americans squarely in the eye and I would say, “We’re in this together, starting with me. I’m going to raise my retirement age, take less in government-paid healthcare (NYSE:XLV), eliminate redundancy in government offices, wind down the hugely expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and yes, pay slightly higher taxes. Now every single one of you has to follow. No complaining.”
Misery loves company so if everyone sacrifices something, it makes it a bit easier. This isn’t rocket science. It wasn’t that long ago under President Clinton that we ran a comfortable surplus. We can get there again, but we all have to man up and stop the spending on EVERY level.
FOX Business Network is exploring “Red Ink Week” from Monday, June 6th – Friday, June 10th.