Trick or Treat: 142-trillion-pound debt monster returns from grave

With the arrival of Halloween, an old familiar monster rises from the grave like Freddy Krueger in “Nightmare on Elm Street.” 

But, unlike the famous fictional character, this beast is real and threatens to choke off our children’s future, consigning our great grandchildren to lifetimes of bondage. The 142-trillion-pound monster in the room is America’s mushrooming national debt, and the October surprise is that Congress must once again raise the debt limit only six months after raising it to $17.3 trillion. 

Consider these alarming facts: the $17.3 trillion national debt employs Enron-style accounting and ignores government’s major unfunded liabilities including Social Security, Medicare, and government pensions. As a practicing CPA, I assure you that private sector companies would be forced to include these obligations on their balance sheets. 

So, the true national debt including unfunded liabilities is really $142 trillion dollars — $142 trillion divided amongst every single taxpayer in America is $1.25 million dollars each. If you thought your family was debt-free — surprise! — you really owe $1,250,000 for every taxpayer in your household. 

As your young son or daughter enters the workforce, excited to start building their nest-egg; they’re not starting from ground zero, they’re starting with a 1,250,000 pound weight about their neck — an enormous burden dragging down America’s economy and our children’s future. Sadly, our generation elected spineless politicians who simply didn’t have the backbone to say no to wasteful, excessive government spending.

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, while insisting that he doesn’t vote party lines, has repeatedly voted straight Democrat on numerous party line votes which defeated U.S. House attempts for lower spending on the continuing budget resolution, including voting against attempts to simply delay Obamacare (with its $1.8 trillion pricetag) for one year. 

Our elected officials are by-and-large still asleep during this living nightmare. According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, America’s deficit to GDP ratio was second worst worldwide in 2010 and 2011 and fourth worst in 2012. The World Economic Forum also ranked America’s debt to GDP ratio as 140th out of 144 nations, fifth worst in the entire world.

Prior to 2009, historically, 17 percent of federal government spending was deficit spending. Since 2009, a whopping 53 percent of government spending is now debt-financed deficit spending. The $3.5 trillion spent annually is almost $28,000 per year for every household in America.  Is all this spending necessary, or have zombie-like politicians simply become so dollar-drunk and power-mesmerized that they’ve lost all self-control?  

Consider these boondoggles: 

• $376 million in White House renovations, including construction of a temporary pseudo Oval Office for the president to use only temporarily while the regular Oval Office is being renovated.

• The U.S. Navy spent $681,387 on one “scientific” study confirming that men look taller, stronger, and manlier when carrying a firearm, $300,000 to conclude the first bird on earth was probably black-feathered, and almost a half-million to determine that unintelligent robots can’t hold a baby’s attention.

• $188 million wasted by the TSA on 5,700 pieces of security equipment sitting unused in storage. 

• The IRS spent $4.1 million on an extravagant conference for 2,600 IRS employees, including $50,000 for line-dancing and Star Trek parody videos, $135,350 for outside speakers, $64,000 in conference “swag” for the employees, free meals, cocktails, and hotel suite upgrades. Meanwhile, the IRS discriminates against Tea-Party groups which oppose this wasteful spending.

Is profligate spending by “Washington Gone Wild” enough to tank history’s greatest economic engine — the American economy? Consider this: In roughly the same time period in which politicians ramped up deficit spending to more than half of the federal budget from 2008 to 2012, the median household income in America dropped 8.1 percent. That’s $4,400 less income per household annually. In that same timespan, there was a 21 percent increase in number of Americans in poverty, a 70 percent increase in number of people on food stamps, and the median net worth of American families plunged 39 percent. 

It’s time America wakes up and realizes that excessive, wasteful government spending is seriously deteriorating our future economic stability. Stand up for our grandchildren’s future; petition Washington for real spending cuts now that will eventually balance the federal budget.

Joe Balyeat is a National Merit Scholar, national award-winning CPA, and former chairman of the Montana Senate Business and Economic Affairs Committee. He is a part-time Alaskan residing near Anchor Point, and is an acting co-director for Americans For Prosperity- Alaska (