WASHINGTON – As this trackless, discouraging presidential campaign unfolds, the two leading candidates are nonetheless following one tradition of American politics.
Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump is talking about how to deal with the government’s debt: What we owe to the People’s Republic of China, Japan, Singapore and various American investors who lend cash to our government to keep it running.
When Clinton or Trump takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, he or she will owe those investors nearly $20 trillion. Right now, the debt amounts to $60,100 for every man, woman and child in the country.
We are supposed to be in an economic recovery. Yet the debt has more than doubled from what President Obama inherited from President George W. Bush, and many times what President Bill Clinton passed on to Bush in 2000.
The debt is not a forgettable thing, such as who won the men’s 1,500-meter race at Rio. It is a monster problem. It’s Jabba the Hutt looking for meat; it’s firewood smoldering in the cellar.
The situation is not sustainable – meaning the worst kind of crisis for everybody is looming around the corner.
Investors will continue to lend to us at low interest rates only as long as they can expect regular repayment.
In personal terms, the debt bill is larger than at any time in our history other than right after World War II.
The blame falls on both Bush, or Bush-Cheney, and Obama. Clinton’s administration brought deficits and debt under control. But the execrable Vice President Dick Cheney, declaring, “it’s our turn,” successfully pushed for tax cuts for the rich while lobbying for war with Iraq.
The debt crisis can be eased somewhat by the tax increases Hillary Clinton says she wants to impose. But it cannot be fixed so easily because of the root problems of debt and annual deficit. One is the steady stripping of manufacturing jobs that followed the free trade move ordered by Bill Clinton.
At the dawn of the Reagan administration in 1981, America’s trade deficit in all goods and services was only $16 billion. Now it hovers at $500 billion a year. The steady outsourcing of every kind of service and production cost the government dearly in tax revenue.
It costs not only in corporate tax revenue, but taxes once paid by ordinary breadwinners.
The sachems of Wall Street and the “better” universities all cry those millions of jobs are never coming back (as Wall Street and the colleges get fatter.)
The other root problem is Obama’s “transformation of America.”
Conservative bloggers last week celebrated the 20th anniversary of Bill Clinton’s “end of welfare as we know it” legislation whose purpose was to force the idle to go look for jobs.
But some pundits refused to look at the back door Obama has created for welfare.
We are at least five years out of the Great Recession, yet 5 million more Americans are on food stamps than when Obama took office. A report in Investors Business Daily noted that 10 million more are receiving Medicaid health care than in 2009.
“Disability rolls are growing even as worker safety has hit an all-time high,” IBD notes. “Food stamps and disability are the new welfare.”
Democrats claim a national unemployment rate at 4.9 percent. Most independent surveys say it is double that. Even with the White House tuning the data, the economy is growing at an anemic 1.1 percent.
This year’s annual deficit will grow by about 10 percent to $590 billion. The Clinton trade deals and the Obama welfare state have positioned the nation for a debt crisis.