Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Walker on parallels between financial crisis and fiscal gap

David Walker, the head of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former Comptroller General, writes in the Financial Times about the parallels between the current financial crisis and the long-term fiscal gap facing the U.S. government.

Beyond the turmoil for banks and homeowners, however, there is a super-sub-prime crisis brewing in Washington. Our fiscal policies have created a disconnect between today's citizens and future taxpayers. Today's taxpayers benefit from high government spending and low taxes, while future generations are expected to pay the bill. Our real challenge is where we are headed on our do-nothing fiscal path.

Washington has charged everything to the nation's credit card - engaging in tax cuts and spending increases without paying for them. Washington's imprudent, unethical and even immoral behaviour is facilitated by a lack of transparency. For example, as of September 30, 2007 the federal government was in a $53,000bn dollar fiscal hole, equal to $455,000 per household and $175,000 per person. This burden is rising every year by $6,600-$9,900 per American. Medicare represents $34,000bn of this deficit and the related Medicare trust fund is set to run dry within 10 years. The Social Security programme is projected to have negative cash flow within about 10 years.

What needs to be done? First, we need leadership from the presidential candidates and members of Congress. We need to re-impose tough budget controls, constrain federal spending, decide which Bush tax cuts will stay, and engage in comprehensive reform of our entitlement, healthcare and tax systems. A bipartisan commission that would make recommendations for an up-or-down vote by Congress would be a positive step to making this a reality.

Click here to read the whole article.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Contrary to what the main stream media says, wall street as a whole (capitalism) should not be blamed for the actions and policies set forth by OUR congress. There are, in fact, corrupt men in wall street who partnered with corrupt men in government to engineer a win-win situation at the expense of the taxpayer. Capitalism (and our nation or any nation) will only survive when the good and virtuous people are running it. Which means, come this November, you must vote for good men and women who stand by principle and uphold our constitution and not just give lip service to causes that seem noble and just.