Despite what you may have heard in the news, there is no political slant to the soaring federal debt:
Since the end of World War II, the budget shortfall has grown under six Republican and six Democratic presidents; it has grown when the Democrats have controlled Congress and when the Republicans have controlled Congress; and even the twelve years of budget surplus (1947–1949, 1951, 1956–1957, 1960, 1969, 1998–2001) are almost equally split between the parties’ control of the White House and Congress. (source) Bottom line, there’s no point in pointing fingers. We’re in this mess together and we need to work together to prepare the coming economic storm.
Our current economic problems are not the result of one piece of legislation, one president, or one session of Congress. Our current economic woes are the cumulative result of a long series of fiscal policy decisions over many, many years. Let’s take a brief survey of American history since the Franklin Roosevelt Administration as it relates to fiscal policy:
• Franklin Roosevelt: creation of Social Security and partial removal of U.S. currency from the gold standard. From the very beginning of Social Security, revenue from payroll taxes has been used to pay benefits to retired people. Excess payroll tax receipts were supposed to be deposited into a Social Security Trust Fund to help pay for future retirement benefits, but as we’ll see in chapter 7, the Trust Fund has no money in it. This financial model is unsustainable over the long term.
• Lyndon Johnson: creation of Medicare. Medicare is a national health care program designed to provide health insurance to Americans over the age of sixty-five. Medicare is headed for bankruptcy.
• Richard Nixon: removed U.S. currency from the gold standard. The U.S. dollar is now worth less every year in purchasing power and is on course to eventually become worthless.
• Jimmy Carter: economic chaos. During the Carter Administration, we saw high unemployment (7.8 percent), high inflation (14.8 percent), and high thirty-year mortgage rates (16.32 percent), as well as the energy crisis.
• Ronald Reagan: beginning of unprecedented expansion of budget deficits.
• George H.W. Bush: continuation of unacceptable deficits.
• Bill Clinton: expansion of government-backed, subprime mortgages. The U.S. government is now responsible for approximately $5 trillion in mortgages.
• George W. Bush: expansion of the federal government. Unprecedented and unacceptable annual deficits exceeding $500 trillion for first time. President Bush signed into law an unfunded senior citizen prescription drug plan, stimulus checks, corporate bailouts, and two unfunded wars.
• Barack Obama: trillion dollar deficits. During the Obama Administration, we’ve seen corporate bailouts, national health insurance (Obamacare), and unprecedented trillion dollar deficits from 2009–2012. The national debt will more than double during Obama’s two terms.
So, you can see that every president over the past eighty-one years has contributed to our current situation. No president or political party gets an award for fiscal responsibility.
I firmly believe we should hold our elected leaders accountable for their actions, but the evaluation must begin first in my own life. What have I done to escalate the problem or solve the problem? Is my own financial house in order? If my financial house is in order (and it doesn’t have to be perfect), then I have a responsibility to speak up. But if my financial house is not in order, that’s where I need to begin. I encourage you to take a look at your own situation and start there.
PREPARE is more about you and me than it is about our elected officials. It’s more about individual and community preparation than it is about trying to solve all the problems with the federal government, the president, and members of Congress.
How do we change our nation? One person, one family, at a time. We begin by taking personal responsibility. Then we seek to enlarge the circle, to inform and influence our neighbors, our cities, our states, and eventually our country and the world. But it all begins with you and me (see Acts 1:8 for a biblical model).
Your Prep Plan: When the topic of who’s to blame comes up.
- Explain that both political parties are responsible.
- Our current economic problems are not the result of one legislation, one president, or one session of Congress.
- No president or political party (Republican or Democrat) gets an award for fiscal responsibility.
- Yes, this includes Regan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama.
- Never speak with harsh or mean words, but with grace and kindness.
- Put polite back into politics.
As a Republican or Democrat are you willing to remove your political bias and look at the facts?