July 24, 2014

Conditions at Parkersburg, Mid Ohio Valley Regional Airport, WV
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Who Is To Blame For The Debt Crisis?

As with just about everything, the answer isn't that simple...or that recent.
Lately, it appears those who are pointing fingers of blame for the debt crisis which has now resulted in the nation's credit rating being lowered are in two camps: 1. Those who blame President Obama, and 2. Those who blame the administration of George W. Bush.
 
They're both right, but only partially.
 
In many ways, the issue of the nation's debt goes back to the relatively heady days which followed World War II.
 
Since the United States was just about the only major nation to get through the war virtually unscathed, it fell upon us to help rebuild the nations which didn't: both our allies and our former enemies of the war. The U.S. poured in billions of dollars to help both, and not all of that ever got paid back.
 
Then, in the 1960's, the nation essentially fought two wars: one on poverty and the other against what, at the time, was considered a Communist threat...namely the Vietnam war. Both resulted in a budget defecit which, except for a few years in the 1990's, has grown steadily since then.  (One must keep in mind that the U.S. budget defecit and the nation's debt are not really one and the same thing, but the former has contributed to the latter.) By the way, in spite of political claims of their being "cut", most of those "War on Poverty" social programs remain pretty much intact today.
 
All that was followed by the recession years of the 1970's, and the military buildup of the 1980's which now is at least partially credited with bringing an end to the Cold War.  And when the nation had a surplus in the late 1990's, spending wasn't brought into line, even considering there was a "Contract With America" Congress which vowed to do so.
 
That brings us to the 2000's, and 9/11 resulted in the U.S. fighting two wars: one in Afghanistan, the other in Iraq, both considered necessary at the time, but now unpopular. The economic stimulus of 2009, of course, added to the debt, even if that was a more calculated move.
 
In the midst of all this, a number of entitlement programs, namely Social Security and Medicare, have been threatening to become a drain on the nation's resources as baby boomers, including those born in the years after World War II, have now hit 65, and more (including me) will be closer to retirement in the next decade.
 
What nearly all of these expenditures have in common is that virtually all of them went unquestioned at the time of their creation. At the time, it was never doubted that the U.S. would have the resources to pay for them.
 
It may be a little late to question them now, but I think it's a better insight on the predicament we face now than the political rhetoric which isn't solving the problem.
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