Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Biggest Threat...

The comptroller general, David Walker, is currently on a "Fiscal Wake-up" tour...

"I would argue that the most serious threat to the United States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan but our own fiscal irresponsibility."

"The prescription drug bill was probably the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s," Walker argues. With one stroke of the pen, Walker says, the federal government increased existing Medicare obligations nearly 40 percent over the next 75 years.

"On cost we're number one in the world. We spend 50 percent more of our economy on health care than any nation on earth," he says.

"We have the largest uninsured population of any major industrialized nation. We have above average infant mortality, below average life expectancy, and much higher than average medical error rates for an industrialized nation," Walker points out.

Where is the leadership?

You're probably expecting to hear from someone who disagrees with the comptroller general's numbers, projections, and analysis. But hardly anyone does. He is accompanied on the wake-up tour by economists from the conservative Heritage Foundation, the left-leaning Brookings Institution, and the non-partisan Concord Coalition. The only dissenters seem to be a small minority of economists who believe either that the U.S. can grow its way out of the problem, or that Walker is over-stating it.

"The Wall Street Journal for example calls you 'Chicken Little,' running around saying that the 'sky is falling, the sky is falling,'" Kroft remarks.

"Unfortunately they don't get it. I don't know anybody who has done their homework, has researched history, and who's good at math who would tell you that we can grow our way out of this problem," Walker replies.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke validated much of Walker's take on the situation at congressional hearings this year. 

Over the next year, the nation's top accountant will be traveling to the early primary states, telling voters that we need to begin raising taxes or government revenues and put a cap on federal spending if we want to maintain our economic security and standard of living. 

"If you tell them the truth, if you give them the facts, if you explain this in terms of not just numbers but values and people, they will get it and empower their elected officials to make tough choices," Walker argues. 


 



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