One of the most persistent lies Republicans tell to get you to vote for them is the one where they tell you the United States is broke, and can’t afford to do things we need to do. they talk about debt obsessively, and imply that a certain level of debt is somehow a sign that the country has no money. That is, of course, absurd. Just about everyone in this country carries some level of debt. If you pay a mortgage every month, guess what? You’re in debt. If you have a car payment every month, you are in debt for that, too. Many people (too many people?) carry credit card debt from one month to the next. However, is everyone who carries some level of debt broke?
That’s right. Despite Republicans constant talk about debt and deficit, those are not signs that we are broke. In fact, the fact that we’re in debt, and people still want to lend us money is actually a pretty significant indication that were nowhere near broke. The government doesn’t borrow money because the country has run out of it. they borrow money because they’re not collecting enough to run the government properly.
I wonder how many of the people who think we’re broke as a country realize that most of the money the government borrows, it borrows from Americans? If you or anyone you know has ever purchased a Treasury Bill of some sort, that’s you lending the government money. Last October, 144 Republican Congresspersons voted to default on the debt, they were essentially refusing to pay you interest on the money they borrowed from you.
Of course, the government has borrowed some money from China, Japan and other countries, but the amount isn’t high, as a proportion of either the debt or the GDP. It’s certainly not as much as Republicans would have you believe. The country is not running out of money, the government is. And it is running out of money because Republicans insist on taxing the people with the least money heavily, while giving huge tax breaks to those with the most money. They also have as a stated goal to “starve the beast,” and make government “small enough to drown in a bathtub.” They know the country is not broke, but because they don’t want to pay taxes, they keep denying the government money to pay for services the rest of us agree are necessary for government to perform.
How many people even noticed that the only time the deficit goes skyhigh is when Republicans are in charge. From the end of World War II until 1980, the deficit shrunk from 120% of GDP to 32% of GDP. In actual dollars, the deficit was $900 billion in 1980 and grew to $6 trillion by 1992. It stayed flat for the eight years that Bill Clinton was president before George W. Bush watched it soar again to nearly $12 trillion, as he cut taxes to the bone, even as he conducted two wars off the books.
The only two presidents since 1980 who have seen an overall decrease in deficits have been Clinton and Obama, not Reagan, Bush and Bush. if you’re looking for irresponsibility when it comes to taking care of the taxpayers money but no further than the GOP. If you’re one of those Americans who wants good schools, smooth roads, clean air, clear water, safe food and safe workplaces, you should realize by now that Republicans hate all those things, and want to cut them out of the budget altogether.
If you are part of the 99% and you work, you pay more federal taxes than most Republican politicians and their sponsors, of course. Remember Mitt Romney? The last year for which he released a tax return showed that he paid 14% of his income in taxes. Meanwhile, the average fast food worker pays more than 15% in Social Security and Medicare taxes alone. If you’re wondering why the government is borrowing so much money, that’s why. If Mitt Romney, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the nation’s billionaires aren’t paying their share, who do you imagine is? The poor can’t make up the difference, and wage earners have been watching their wages go down over the years.
If you believe we’re broke, as a country, open your eyes and look at the raw numbers. The US total household net worth – the amount of wealth we hold, is $66 trillion. (Source) The total net worth of all businesses is $16.6 trillion. (Source) The total non-business, non-corporate net worth is 8 trillion. (Source) That means the total wealth of the entire United States is $90.6 trillion. With a total of public and private debt of about 279% of GDP (Source), or $44.7 trillion, our national net worth is $45.9 trillion. still the largest net worth of any country in the world, by far. The US GDP (income) for last year is also the largest in the world – $16.7 trillion. (Source), which is $900 billion more than the European Union, which ranks second in GDP. At the same time, government spending (cost of living expenses) is about $3.9 trillion, and has barely moved in five years.
No one could possibly disagree that these numbers are huge. But then, we’re one of the most populated nations in the world, with the largest and most mature economies, and highest standards of living. But as an object experiment, let’s take those numbers and lop off the same number of zeroes from each number, so that the numbers are relatable to the typical family. Imagine your family was able to boast of numbers like these:
The total value of your assets is $906,000.
The total amount of your debt is $447,000.
That makes your net worth $459,000.
How many families do you imagine have assets worth more than their debt. If that was your family’s financial statement, would you be heading to bankruptcy court, or to Tahiti for a vacation?
Your income is $167,000 per year.
Your total expenses come to $39,000 per year.
if you were the country, you would have $128,000 in disposable income every year. I’m sorry, but is that broke? Keep in mind, that’s in addition to your $459,000 net worth. We have a lot of disposable income, which means we could easily put 10% into paying down our debt, without hurting us even a little. If we really cared that much about the debt, that’s exactly what we would do. But while the Republican Party loves to whine about deficits and debt, they really don’t care about reducing or eliminating them. If they did care, they would have been dedicating themselves to debt reduction a long time ago.
How can anyone look at the numbers above and see “broke?” the problem is actually simple. Those with the most money have decided that accumulating wealth is more important than investing in those things which make our country great. The government needs more revenue, and we need to get away from the Republican concept of government spending. Republicans see all spending as waste, whereas sane people understand that government should be investing money and those things we need. Among those things include a new electrical grid, new modes of transportation; a stronger, faster and more secure technology infrastructure; more manufacturing infrastructure and a transportation infrastructure with 21st-Century technology as its centerpiece. We need to invest in ourselves, like we used to.
When Republicans tell you we’re broke, they are simply lying to you. We need to throw these liars out of office in 32 days.