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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

Top Ten Ways to Reduce National Debt

Inside Washington

And a few ways to look at the challenge

By James N. Watkins

I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, the “Top Ten Ways To Reduce the National Debt.”

  1. Sponsor a national garage sale. (Do we really need two Dakotas?)
  2. Make Chuck-E-Cheese tokens legal tender.
  3. Turn Blair House into an upscale bed and breakfast.
  4. Make the U.S. government an Amway distributor (just sign up ten more countries, who sign up ten more countries, and so on and so on).
  5. Tax junk mail, spam and telemarketing.
  6. Creditors who forgive debts can rename national landmarks: The Wan Ting Monument, The Grand Dragon Canyon, The Statue of Liang Ting.
  7. Have Mark Zuckerberg write a check.
  8. Have senators and representatives salaries based on median income of their constituents.
  9. Have the presidency be a volunteer position. (Does someone worth millions/billions need $400,000 a year, plus housing and generous pension?)
  10. Cut up Congress’ credit card.

Okay, the national debt is no laughing matter. According to InsideGov here’s the balance sheet for 2015:

Total receipts: $2,960,000,000,000

Total expenditures: $3,360,000,000,000

National debt in December: $18,800,000,000,000

Proposed budget cuts per year: $30,000,000,000

To put that in perspective, if that were an individual making nearly $30,000 per year:

Total receipts: $29,600

Total expenditures: $33,600

Total debt: $188,000

Proposed budget cuts per year: $300

According to the government’s own Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one’s debt-to-income ratio should be no more than 43 percent (annual debt divided by annual gross income). The government’s own ratio is . . . a drum roll, please . . . 560 percent! That’s eight times its own advice.

Those expenditures fall under three categories:

Mandatory spending makes up 65 percent of the total budget. Nearly half (49 percent) is Social Security and unemployment benefits; 38 percent is Medicare and health.

Discretionary spending makes up 29 percent of the total budget with 54 percent of that going to the military and 7 percent to government overhead. (Surprisingly, government operation makes up less than 2 percent of the total budget.)

Interest on Federal debt is 6 percent.

So . . .

The sky is not falling!

The United States earns the following credit scores: Standard & Poor's: AA+ with stable outlook, Moody's: Aaa with stable outlook, Fitch's AAA with stable outlook.

The sky is clouding up as storms approach

According to US News, the current $19 trillion tab “is growing at a staggering pace of more than $58,000 per second.” The report asks, “When will the government's habit of maxing out its credit cards finally hit home? Here a few ways you might feel the pinch of Uncle Sam's borrowing binge.”

Higher interest rates. “At some point, it may be much harder to finance our debt,” says Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University. “As a result, we would see an economic or market solution, and that would mean either higher interest rates or a lower value of the dollar, or a combination of both.”

Slower economic growth, weaker job markets. The US News report continues: “If interest rates ramp up, a greater portion of the government's budget will go toward interest payments, leaving fewer dollars for other, more economically stimulating types of spending, such as building roads or providing tax incentives for small businesses.”

Higher taxes. Georgetown University’s finance professor Reena Aggarwal warns that cutting spending is only half of the solution. “At some point, the government has to think about raising more revenue, which means higher taxes. If we don't address this debt problem, it's going to end up being a bigger problem.”

I have often quipped that, like the trio off to see the Wizard, Republicans need a heart and Democrats need a brain. And both parties need courage to address the government’s economic spiral. For decades, Congress has kicked the can down the road in a series of government shutdowns and emergency spending bills. In the past 50 years, the United States has been in the black for only seven fiscal years!

What is needed is a bipartisan effort to enlist the best economists to create a strategy to stop the hemorrhage of red ink. But what can you and I—the lowly blood donors—do?

l Vote for legislators who will address deficit spending . . . now.

l Pray not only for congressional courage but wisdom to resolve it.

l And, I’d suggest seriously considering numbers 3, 2 and 1 on my top ten list!

James N. Watkins is a humorist and author and contributor to 24 books and over 2,000 articles on social and spiritual issues. 

Member Comments

The following expressions and comments are from our members and do not necessarily represent or reflect the biblical, world views or opinions of the Presidential Prayer Team
  1. Nate Wilson says:

    A return to the original intent of the U.S. Constitution might also be something to consider. The men who wrote our constitution said that the Federal government should not have an army, should leave internal improvements to individual states, has no authority over education, and should leave aid to needy individuals up to personal charity. That would certainly bring the federal budget under control. Obviously such changes would create too much social upheaval if re-implemented too quickly, but now that we have seen what happens when we give charity, armed forces, internal improvement, and education over to a federal government that was not designed to handle these things, we are seeing some of the reasons why our founding fathers thought it was a bad idea.

  2. James Foxvog says:

    I find it confusing, and maybe even misleading, to consider Social Security spending when speaking of the deficit. Social Security is entirely self-funded and has a strong surplus. It takes in more than it pays out. It can continue doing that a long time with a simple adjustment of removing the cap so everyone was taxed at the same rate.

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