I was born in 1928, a year before the Great Depression began. Living my early years in a dark-blue-collar environment taught me the axiom to live within my means and to accrue savings, not debt.
Today, at age 85 and long debt-free, I’m thankful for having heeded that axiom. I’d also like to be thankful that our federal government – here in the world’s richest country – has lived within its means and long been debt-free. Instead, I’m ashamed that it is the world’s greatest borrower.
As a Christian, I’m also ashamed that the government of our “one nation under God” is running the largest and most immoral fiscal scam the world has ever known. During fiscal year 2013, the scam boosted the wealth of its beneficiaries by a shared $672 billion.
The scam relies upon presidents and members of Congress evading their joint responsibility to levy sufficient taxes to fund the spending they approve – and instead funding their resulting budget deficits by borrowing to produce an ever-growing debt of unlevied, postponed or evaded taxes.
Ideally, the scam’s targeted victims, who will be stuck repaying the debt, are future – never current – taxpayers. Scam beneficiaries, who have become collectively wealthier by $17.2 trillion to date, are persons and organizations with taxable income.
A Republican in 1980, I eagerly voted to elect President Reagan because he promised to eliminate budget deficits in three years – which would cap the debt and partially end the scam. I also expected that he, supposedly a fiscal conservative, would then launch the government on a committed debt repayment schedule to make the government debt-free.
But Reagan obviously disagreed that the government of the world’s richest country should live within its means. Instead of eliminating budget deficits, he increased them by launching Reaganomics: increased spending without levying increased taxes and, instead, funding deficits by borrowing while perversely enacting revenue-reducing tax cuts favoring the wealthy.
Reagan left office with Reaganomics having increased the $930 billion debt he inherited in January 1981 by 281 percent to a record-setting $2.7 trillion of additional postponed taxes for future taxpayers to pay with interest. Had Reagan at least balanced the budget during his eight-year presidency but left, say, a $1 trillion debt, and had succeeding presidents and Congresses continued levying sufficient taxes to fund their approved spending, the $1 trillion debt could have easily been repaid over the past 25 years at a total cost of $1.9 trillion (assuming an average 6 percent interest rate).
But instead of the debt-free outcome, the Reaganomics scam has ballooned the debt to its current $17.2 trillion while costing $9 trillion of debt interest.
Also, since 1981 the scam has required 37 debt ceiling increases (28 during Republican presidencies). Yet Republicans have continually claimed to be overtaxed – and perversely enacted unaffordable tax cuts while approving more spending for cold and hot wars, military occupations, failed weapons programs.
Indeed, by 2012 the government’s annual military spending exceeded the combined military spending of the 10 countries with the next highest military budgets. Yet in 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised to further increase military spending $2 trillion and cut taxes 20 percent.
Republicans seem unaware that, if we’ve been overtaxed since 1981, today’s government should be debt-free with a huge surplus. But the scam’s postponed/evaded taxes have instead increased the debt from $930 billion to today’s $17.2 trillion, undertaxing us $16.27 trillion.
Nor do Republicans understand that tax cuts are affordable only when the government is free of massive debt and debt-interest payments.
Nor do Republican politicians obsessed with reducing spending ever explain their unwillingness to levy sufficient taxes to fund spending that other countries find affordable to ensure the health and general welfare of their lower-income constituents who benefit little from the tax scam.
Nor do tax-cutting Republicans ever offer a viable plan for how they will end the immoral Reaganomics scam by both eliminating budget deficits and levying taxes to repay the scam’s debt.
Republicans have said repayment can be eased by ever-cheaper dollars caused by continual inflation, budget surpluses produced by a growing economy or the Federal Reserve’s simply creating trillions of new dollars to fund redemption of the debt’s bonds.
But since 1981, inflation and GDP have increased 157 percent and 62.5 percent, respectively, and the debt hasn’t been paid down one dollar. Nor has the Fed – which is monetarily responsible to “maintain stable prices” – created inflationary dollars intended to erase the debt and its interest expense.
Nor can we expect any initiative to correct the scam from the most shamefully obstructed Congress of my lifetime.
In 2014 we must elect only those candidates for Congress who promise to quickly enact a moratorium on both tax cuts and improved congressional benefits until the scam’s immorally evaded taxes have been fully repaid.
Richard (Dick) Huopana of Durham is a retired IBM manager, a former mayor of Boca Raton, Fla., and a former Republican.