Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Editorial Stresses The Need For Fiscal Sanity

In the following editorial, the author talks about the need for fiscal sanity and talks about how John Tanner, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, is one of the leaders on the issue in Congress.

After reading the editorial, you will see that what the author is saying the very same thing that Congressman Harold Ford Jr. has been saying for some time now:

Rep. John Tanner, D-Union City, isn't the first politician to warn the public about the dangers of deficit spending and mounting national debt.

But politicians like Tanner are becoming an endangered species. Increasingly in political circles, the call for responsible federal economic policy has taken a backseat to cries for no new taxes, tax reduction and in the case of the estate tax, outright tax repeal.

Given the great reluctance of politicians to acknowledge the nation's sagging economic outlook, citizens themselves are going to need to push the issue of fiscal stability.

Last week in a speech to the Economic Club of Memphis, Tanner outlined the long-term impact of the current fiscal irresponsibility. It wasn't pretty. The high points of his report were:

• In 2005, for the first time since the Great Depression, the rate of personal saving was negative, meaning that the average American is spending more than he or she earns.

• Government fiscal accountability is severely lacking. The Government Accountability Office "cannot account for all the federal government's assets and liabilities."

• The interest on federal debt is the fastest-growing spending item in the federal budget.

• "China's purchases of U.S. government securities have exploded by more than 211 percent since the beginning of 2001 and now total $311 billion." Tanner points out that if China decided to dump large volumes of U.S. Treasury securities, inflation could soar and the Federal Reserves would be forced to hike interest rates.

• In 2005, the U.S. paid $116 billion in interest payments to overseas entities. That's about five times what the U.S. paid in foreign assistance last year.

• Congress' primary response to the economy challenge is to raise the debt limit, which has gone from $5.9 trillion in 2001 to $8.9 trillion this year.

• Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cannot be sustained in their present form.

The report is available online at

Tanner offers solutions: Restore pay-as-you-go requirements. Establish commissions to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Enforce spending caps. Enact a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.

This page traditionally has opposed a balanced budget amendment as an unnecessary substitute for political will. Yet in the face of Washington's seeming inability to make tough decisions, the amendment option can't be ignored.

To a large extent, the American public created this fiscal mess. The collective cry for less taxes and more services, despite the cost, put Congress on this irresponsible path. Now the public needs to persuade Congress to make the sacrifices necessary to secure our fiscal future.

I agree with the author of this peice 100% and so does Congressman Harold Ford Jr.

Ford spoke on the subject recently saying, “First we need to pass an amendment to the constitution to force a balanced budget, second end the pork barrel spending in the budget, third, everybody in this country under 40 years should be willing to give up Social Security until they are 70, fourth, ask every federal agency to cut spending by 1% except for education and veterans every year until budget is balanced, fifth, if businesses choose to move their businesses overseas they should not receive tax breaks and last end the tax breaks to the wealthy."

Clearly, Congressman Ford understands the importance of having fiscal sanity in our nation's capitol.

In fact, Congressman Ford may just be the most fiscal member of the entire Congress. His record is unmatched.

Further, Ford has made fiscal responsibility a key issue in his campaign for the U.S. Senate citing it as one of his five goals in his Covenant with Tennesseans and talking about it on the campaign trail every change he gets.

Congress needs more people like John Tanner. The Senate needs more people like Harold Ford Jr. and next year, they will get just that.