Budget deficit

Dealing with Our Debt

 Dealing with Our Debt

                    Robert A. Levine  May 23, 2023

America’s entire debt situation is insane. First of all, there should be no debt ceiling. When Congress appropriates money for any government acquisition or activity, that should be deemed as obligating the government to spend the money to pay the bill. There is no reason to have a separate vote to allocate money to pay off debt that Congress already agreed was necessary. This vote to raise the debt ceiling to pay bills that Congress has already authorized allows a minority party to hold the nation hostage. And extremists on both the right and left are only too willing to raise questions and gain publicity by opposing or delaying the increase in the debt ceiling for money that Congress has already spent.

It is time for a separate vote on the debt ceiling to be eliminated. When Congress passes a bill that entails government spending, that bill should ensure that government funds will be used to pay that debt. Almost no other nation in the world has separate votes on spending bills and raising the debt ceiling to pay these bills. The uncertainty associated with approving the debt ceiling roils all the financial markets, damages the sanctity of the dollar and hurts the American economy, even if raising the debt ceiling is passed. Thus far, the United States has never defaulted on its debts and it is hoped that this will never happen.

Having the dollar as the currency used in international trade is beneficial for the United States. There are currencies waiting in the wings, like the Chinese yuan or the European euro that would be glad to take the place of the dollar in international trade.  This is much more likely to happen if the U.S. defaults on its debt. Dollar denominated debt is also considered as a safe haven for the rest of the world. When there is an economic crisis anywhere, people all over the world want to park their money in American government obligated debt. This strengthens the dollar and also America and we should be loath to do anything that would damage the standing of the dollar.

That is why it is crazy for the Republicans in Congress to make demands regarding future spending when the debt ceiling is for money that had been already spent. There should be no question about

payment of this debt and no question about raising the debt ceiling when the payment comes due. As I said, the proper way to handle this is to get rid of the debt ceiling completely, allocating funding whenever Congress and the president pass a bill. No more games involving the dollar and America’s debt.


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Midterm Angst

Midterm Angst

            Robert A. Levine 11-16-22

With the final results yet to be tallied, the Democrats appear to be happy about the way the midterm elections turned out. They held onto the Senate with Georgia yet to be determined, probably lost the House by a hair though there is still a remote chance for them, picked up a number of governorships, secretaries of state, and state legislative seats. However, the Democrats could have done much better if they had presented a more coherent message. Though the party in power generally does poorly in the midterms, there was an opportunity this year for the Democrats to score big. The Republicans were in disarray and running a number of poor candidates who were Trump-backed election deniers who were not beloved by the electorate.

Besides pounding away at these election-deniers and Trump acolytes, the Democrats should have emphasized Rick Scott, the GOP’s Senate campaign leader’s program. Scott, was CEO of Columbia/HCA HealthCare Corporation when it was guilty of the largest Medicare fraud ever at the time, with his company being fined $1.7 billion and Scott being forced to step down as CEO. His huge payouts at Columbia/HCA were responsible for the tainted wealth that he accumulated, which he used to finance his senatorial campaigns. Scott’s policies for the Republicans included cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and raising the ages at which people become eligible for these essential programs.

Since Scott already made his hundreds of millions or more by defrauding Medicare, he doesn’t care about cutting people off from Medicare and other needed government funded programs. He says his and the Republican goal is to balance the budget, yet he and the rest of the GOP were willing to support tax cuts for the wealthy under Trump which increased the deficit. And the GOP is willing to back further tax cuts for corporations and rich people in the future. Certainly many voters could understand what the Republicans want to do if it were more broadly advertised and would be strongly opposed to these Republican policies.

Yet the Democrats did not focus on these Republican objectives, instead concentrating on the abortion issue and saving democracy. Of course, both of these were and are important, but may not have had the same personal impact with much of the electorate as the specific Republican policies to cut off important benefits to the population at large. Had these issues been pushed more avidly in advertisements and speeches by Democratic candidates, even with high inflation, it is possible that a Blue wave might have been initiated instead of a minor Blue ripple.


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