Kicking the can

This generation is stealing from the next -- and for that we apologize

Dear Future Generations:


On behalf of the generations running this country at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, we apologize profoundly and from the bottom of our hearts for what our “leaders” have done to you.

Somehow, many of us knew what was coming – and we still couldn’t stop it.

That “something” isn’t the so-called fiscal cliff that made so many headlines – amazingly right after the November election. What a coincidence.

No, the full fiscal cliff could have been easily enough avoided – and the cliff is more about us than it is about future generations.

What is still coming, even after the fiscal cliff, is the fiscal train wreck.

You see, our “leaders” in Washington have strained and strained just to avoid the cliff – the series of tax hikes and indiscriminate spending cuts that were scheduled to take effect at the end of 2012. Whether or not you believe they actually avoided it, they still will leave our country in a financial death spiral.

Fact is, the agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff apparently will just mean higher taxes on some and more debt on us. Or, rather, on you – our children and grandchildren.

In fact, in these fiscal cliff negotiations, our president initially was asking for free checking: an agreement that he, alone, could decide what our debt ceiling is. That’s not only unconstitutional – even the modest line-item veto was declared that by the Supreme Court – but tantamount to dictatorial powers. Congress was meant to have the power of the purse. Period.

Then he wanted a two-year debt limit increase, presumably to avoid having to consider any spending discipline at least until after the 2014 midterm elections. How convenient.

In any case, we don’t see how this ends well for future generations.

We’re already borrowing some 40 cents for every dollar of federal spending. That’s money that you young people, and those not yet born, will be saddled with repaying.

All because we don’t have the gumption to jump off the gravy train.

Shame on this generation. We are perpetrating generational theft to see to our own comfort. How immoral.

Nothing our “leaders” in Washington have agreed to on the fiscal cliff will do anything to stop that. They’re not even talking about balancing the budget – and annual deficits are now a staggering $1 trillion a year.

Democrats in Washington even appear allergic to the spending cuts that are the answer to stopping this runaway train. And as for Republicans? They talk a good game, but the election results have given Democrats the upper hand: Current generations voted to keep the gravy flowing. And even when Republicans had leverage, their “spending cuts” were lame, and in many cases merely cut the rate of growth of spending.

When everyone in Washington knew that our $16 trillion debt would take on some $10 trillion more over the next decade, some in Congress proposed “cutting” $4 trillion of that future overspending – but still would have left the rest for future generations to pay off.

Even that plan was dead on arrival, it was too much cutting! We couldn’t even cut 40 percent of the coming debt.

How pitiful.

Concerned citizens rose up a couple years ago to demand an end to this generational theft – but the media mocked them and did everything they could to discredit and demoralize them. It showed in November. The spenders won.

Now, as we sit here in the opening days of 2013, it appears to many of us as if the country’s fiscal problems simply must get worse – perhaps much worse – before our leaders are shocked into really doing something about it.

What’s being glossed over amid the congressional back-slapping about the eleventh-hour fiscal cliff deal is that we’re not really avoiding the full fiscal cliff. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, 77 percent of U.S. households will pay more taxes in 2013, mainly because the payroll tax cut expired.

“The deal just enacted implies a significant tightening of fiscal policy this year,” economist Lewis Alexander told The Wall Street Journal. “Payroll taxes are going up and federal spending is being cut by the amount anticipated in the (Budget Control Act of 2011). These measures will be a drag on growth, starting in the current quarter.”

Also, the deal didn’t address the gradual, long-term stabilization of our public debt. Instead, we’ve got only a couple of months of headroom with the current debt ceiling. And when further negotiations start heating up in the next few weeks, it likely will make the fractious fiscal cliff negotiations look as calm as a church picnic.

Now that our “leaders” think the fiscal cliff is past, they will recline into their comfy complacency and wait for the next crisis of their own making – and once again pretend as if they’ve done something difficult and meaningful about it.

Why any young person would lean into this by voting for it is beyond us. Or why any grandparent or parent would wish it upon the young.

We hope that, if future generations are reading this 10 or 20 years hence, that we were wrong, and that true leaders will have emerged in years to come to prevent this train wreck – which otherwise will result in crippling tax rates and reduced services, at the very least.

But just in case, we apologize – if that means anything.



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