October 1st marks the beginning of the new fiscal year for the federal government. Typically this date marks the end of the existing congressional budget and the start of the new budget for the upcoming year. But since this Congress has failed to pass a budget for the past three years, the onset of a new fiscal year posed a funding problem. No money…no government.
No worries! Congress responded in the same fiscally irresponsible manner that we have come to expect. Congress passed a continuing resolution which used borrowed money to continue funding the government at current levels until March of 2013. The heavy lifting done and the continued funding of their paychecks secured; Congress took a seven week vacation hiatus to celebrate the fiscal New Year… and to persuade constituents to place campaign signs in their front yards.
This is how government works. Budgets…checks and balances…who needs them? Need money to fund defense appropriations…borrow it. Can’t afford to fund our schools…borrow more. Bridges and roads need repair…borrow whatever you need. Our credit card debt stands at $16 trillion dollars yet we just keep borrowing more and more and more.
According to most economists, by 2020 every tax dollar the government receives will go to fund Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on that $16 trillion dollar debt. Some economists believe that due to the massive number of tax payers leaving the work force that phenomenon will occur in 2013. Our taxes will pay for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the debt…that’s it. Every other government program and service: defense, education, transportation, health and human services etc. etc. will be funded with money borrowed from China and other foreign nations.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that the current course is unsustainable. Our unfettered borrowing threatens the country’s financial and economic stability.
Yet 35 days from the election neither President Obama, Mitt Romney nor self proclaimed numbers wonk Paul Ryan have offered a comprehensive, specific rational solution on how to fix the problem.
Happy Fiscal New Year, America!