Category Archives: Debt and deficits

$23.33 less debt

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

The past couple of weeks showed two different ways to react when you don’t have enough money coming in: the Arkansas state government reaction, which is relatively effective, and the federal reaction, which isn’t at all.

Why the difference? One big reason is that Arkansas has a structure for responding to budget shortfalls and, more important, a culture that respects that structure. The federal government has neither nor the structure nor the culture.

Let’s start with Arkansas. The state’s budgetary decisions are governed by the Revenue Stabilization Act, a law passed in 1945 that is amended by the Legislature each budget cycle and sets the parameters for a balanced budget. Under the act, state spending is divided into categories: an essential Category A and a much smaller, spend-it-if-we’ve-got-it Category B.

We won the lottery, but who bought the ticket?

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Should welfare recipients be required to pay back the state if they win the lottery? Maybe the better question is, should all of us?

Those questions came to mind after hearing a presentation by Rep. John Payton, R-Wilburn, of his House Bill 1825 before the House Rules Committee at the State Capitol Wednesday.

The bill would require lottery winners to reimburse the state for their last 10 years of Department of Human Services benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly the food stamp program.

Payton said the lottery is a bad deal for poor people, who gamble their sparse dollars with the odds stacked mightily against them. This arrangement would make them think twice about doing that and remind them that their benefits come from the taxpayers.

Please, Congress, if you cut taxes, cut spending too

Uncle Sam hangs on for webBy Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Here’s a simple request of our elected officials when they gather in Washington next year with Republicans in charge of everything: If you’re going to cut taxes, please cut spending, too.

I make that request for the future because I am not reassured by the past – not the past year, or the last 35, or the last 200.

Since 1790, the United States has been in a continual state of debt. There was a brief period in the mid-1830s when the debt was very small – it even briefly was paid off in 1835. But it reached $1 billion in 1863 during the Civil War and has never looked back. It has grown smaller at times as a percentage of gross domestic product, but the overall trajectory has been ever higher. In fact, the last time the United States owed less one year than the previous one was 1957, according to the government’s own Treasury Department website.

If Trump or Clinton succeed? More debt

Uncle Sam hangs on for webBy Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Presidential candidates can’t possibly fulfill all their campaign proposals, and few would even want to try. But what would happen if Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump actually did what they said they want to do? Clinton would grow government and do nothing to reduce the growth of the national debt. Trump would explode the debt.

Those are the findings of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group that advocates for deficit reduction. It scored the two candidates’ campaign proposals to find out how much they would increase the debt, determined maximum and minimum amounts based on various factors, and then came up with midrange amounts.

The CRFB found that Clinton’s proposals would increase spending by $1.4 trillion over 10 years, but she has proposed $1.2 trillion in tax increases over that time period. That’s $200 billion in new debt, plus another $50 billion in additional interest costs her policies would cause.