Your Opinion: Off fiscal cliff and in free fall

Dear Editor:

All this moaning and groaning about the fiscal cliff is crying over spilt milk. We don’t know exactly when it happened, but we went off the road of economic sanity around 2011, when we spent more on 80-plus welfare programs than on Social Security, Medicare or national defense.

In fiscal year 2011 Social Security cost $725 billion, nonwar defense cost $540 billion, and Medicare $480 billion. Also, the federal government spent another $746 billion on welfare programs and the states spent an additional $283 billion on the same programs for a grand total of $1.03 Trillion dollars (CRS Report 7-5700, www.crs. gov and releases from Senate Budget Committee).

So over the past 100 years, all the safety nets and temporary utopian programs have morphed us into a society whereby half the population pays no federal tax and 67.3 million Americans, “depend on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid, or other assistance once considered to be the responsibility of individuals, families, neighborhoods, churches, and other civil society institutions.” 2013 Index of Dependence on Government, Heritage Foundation).

And adding insult to injury, we have now had four consecutive years of trillion dollar deficits with no end in sight.

So we went off the cliff in 2011. For 2012 we are careening down a very steep Colorado Rocky mountain in a free fall slamming into trees, rock formations, ravines, ditches, whatever is there. And we’re crashing so frequently and so severely we have no idea when we’ll hit bottom.

Coming up first thing in 2013 we hit another debt ceiling limit: the current ceiling of $16.394 Trillion was passed August 2011 and was supposed to take us clear to mid-2013. By summer 2013 the credit rating agencies will probably feel obliged to keep their words of warning and lower our credit rating a second time; that will have some dire consequences. By late 2013 a better understanding of Obama-care will be gained by all, and there will be hell to pay.

Then with mid-term elections looming over the horizon, nothing constructive will be accomplished until end of 2014, if then. Things are not looking up.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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