Tag Archives: income support

Cleaning Up a Gusher of Debt


            When tiny globs of gooey brown oil began washing up on Gulf shores, it foreshadowed a more ominous environmental calamity lurking just over the horizon.  These first signs were troubling enough. But they also revealed a more daunting threat riding incoming tides that might prove impossible to fix.

            The Gulf disaster is a metaphor for our federal spending and debt crisis.   Globs of budgetary red ink have been washing up in Washington for some time now.  Cleaning up the immediate problem is hard enough. But the difficulty policymakers face addressing the current fiscal mess only underscores a larger challenge.

            The Senate’s efforts over the past month, trying to enact a state aid/unemployment/tax extender bill are illustrative. The Democrats’ original plan exemplified politics as usual.  These initiatives all cost the federal government money.  But instead of making the tough choices necessary to pay for these benefits, they proposed just adding more to the deficit.

            But with an election looming and nervous voters increasingly cranky about unsustainable debt, the original Senate plan, which increased the federal debt because it offset less than a third of the  $190 billion in spending, ran into a buzz saw of opposition.  Democratic leaders continue to ameliorate concerns by scaling back the package or finding other offsets.

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