Last week the politically independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a couple of reports that triggered Internet and social media hyperactivity. One report dealt with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the other concerned projected budget deficits.
Unbelievably, “The Slow Recovery of the Labor Market” report stated that, because of the ACA, by the year 2017 there will be a decline of 2 million full-time equivalent workers and, by 2024, that decline will amount to 2.5 million. Republicans jumped on this report to support their position that ACA is a job-killing law. The president rebutted by saying that jobs were not being eliminated but, instead, workers will choose not to work or will work less, due to access to cheaper or subsidized health care. As one of those who contributes the funds (taxes) to provide this subsidy, I am offended. Do we really want to provide our citizens with government benefits that disincentivize work? Should government benefits be so substantial that people opt not to work or to earn less so they can exploit those benefits? I have always thought that government benefits were for those who cannot find work or who have disabilities that prevent them from supporting themselves. Obama’s rationale is simply unacceptable. I am reminded of Alexis de Tocqueville’s admonishment: “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” ACA blatantly encourages people not to work, but instead to rely on unearned government handouts.
The other report, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” stated that, in 2015, the federal budget deficit is projected to be $478 billion, down from the early years of the Obama administration of well over $1 trillion. The bad news is that the budget deficit is projected over the next 10 years to balloon to $1.4 trillion! That, too, I find unacceptable. Didn’t Congress recently come to agreement on a budget of just under $1 trillion? So over the next 10 years, the best we can do is to allow income to fall short of expenses by 48 percent? Interestingly, the CBO measures the deficit as a percentage of the total economy, not by the relationship between revenue and expenditures. According to CBO, a deficit of “only” 2.6 percent of the economy is good, because the average pre-crisis level was at 3 percent. Someone needs to remind CBO, the administration and Congress that a deficit is a deficit. The United States will never chip away its debt while continuing to add to it each year.
If the federal government were the model for how we ran our businesses, no one would invest in them, none of us would have jobs for more than one year, and the entire world would be bankrupt by the end of that year. I am curious, then, why we do not collectively raise a ruckus and demand fiscal responsibility at the federal government level. I fear what kind of world we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. Today we are still a nation of sound laws, unparalleled natural resources and an historic work ethic unmatched anywhere. We do not bow to royalty, and we were founded on the belief that all men are created equal. We take pride that anyone born in the United States, no matter how humble the circumstances, can work hard and grow up to be president. Why, then, do we condone such fiscal mismanagement that eventually will bankrupt us?
S. Joe DeHaven, 02/12/14