Bankrupt: 46 trillion US liability

The Charleston Gazette, W.Va. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News Dec. 10 - When Gov. Joe Manchin took over state government nearly a year ago, West Virginia faced $10 billion unfunded liabilities in state pensions, Workers' Compensation, health insurance and other long-term obligations. Commendably, Manchin eliminated much of this burden through bold steps such as privatizing Workers' Comp and boosting the coal severance tax.

Meanwhile, the Mountain State's debt was infinitesimal, compared to stupendous, colossal, astronomical, cataclysmic, monumental federal shortfalls that have grown under President Bush.

U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, head of the Government Accountability Office, declared in an Oregon speech last week that federal unfunded liabilities "were $20 trillion at the end of fiscal 2000 and are at $46 trillion today."

Astounding! During the Bush term -- as war spending soared and enormous tax giveaways were handed to the affluent -- potential long-range national debt more than doubled. This plunge toward bankruptcy was discussed in a Thursday commentary by Charleston financial consultant Howard Swint.

The comptroller general serves 15-year terms and cannot be ousted, which makes him free from political pressure. Previously, Walker wrote in Business Week:

"Both U.S. government spending and tax cuts are spiraling out of control. Recent increases in federal budget deficits have far outpaced the cost of the global war on terrorism and incremental homeland security costs. Although the $319 billion fiscal 2005 deficit was considerably lower that the previous year's, it is still imprudently high -- especially given that federal spending is expected to increase dramatically when the Baby Boomers begin to retire later this decade.

"Less well known, the federal government's long-term liabilities and net commitments, such as those relating to Social Security and Medicare, have risen from just over $20 trillion in fiscal 2000 to more than $43 trillion in fiscal 2004, in large part because of passage of the Medicare prescription drug bill in December 2003. This translates into a burden of more than $150,000 per American and $350,000 per full-time worker, up from $72,000 and $165,000 in 2000."

Facing gigantic future debt, Gov. Manchin wisely reduced the burden -- but Republicans in Washington do just the opposite: They keep demanding more tax cuts for the wealthy, eliminating revenue needed to pay Washington's perilous future debt. After the Bush administration ends, successors will be trapped, forced to find ways to pay the $46 trillion obligation that is being ignored and worsened today. Comptroller General Walker quoted George Washington's 1796 farewell address, in which he warned Congress against "ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear." But Washington's sensible advice is being trampled by today's leaders.


Informant: beefree


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Dezember 2005

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