Letters to the Editor

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DEBT: Social spending isn’t the problem

Letter by Michael Dole, Tacoma on Aug. 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm | 88 Comments »
August 15, 2011 2:46 pm

Re: “Get the facts straight about the debt crisis” (letter, 8-14).

It’s refreshing to see someone on the right make a fact-based argument, however this letter is full of half-truths.

The author states that federal revenue is “up 23 percent over the past 20 years.” However, he cites raw numbers that don’t take into account gross domestic product during that time.

A more accurate analysis would be to look at revenue as a percentage of GDP (which describes the size of the economy). The Office of Management and Budget reports that current federal receipts are about 14.5 percent of GDP, a ratio the United States hasn’t seen since 1950. In truth, our level of federal revenue is at a 60-year low.

The author also takes a dig at social spending. The high cost of Medicare is due to skyrocketing health care costs, which have nothing to do with Medicare itself. Education spending (as a percentage of GDP) has barely budged over the years, but the author lumps all social programs together as if to argue they’re equally to blame and then compares them to a single program – defense – which is misleading.

In truth, what drove the deficit over the edge was irresponsible overspending by Congress during the 2000s. Two overpriced wars (one unnecessary), huge tax cuts that promised jobs but produced none, an expensive Medicare program not paid for – all followed by an economic collapse made possible by the systemic deregulation of the financial sector by conservatives.

That was (and is) the problem – not social programs.

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