Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

November 11, 2012

Forum: 11/11

Talk about inconvenient truths.

We are an attorney, a CPA, and an association executive here in town.

We recently each received an email that contained a video entitled "Why Congress Does Not Pass a Budget." We found it to be alarming, so we compared the claims in the video against the President's fiscal year 2013 federal budget documents issued last February by the Office of Management and Budget (www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget).

We found the claims to be supported by the documents.

The video exposes in a straight-forward manner that our nation's financial peril is already at crisis levels. We are sharing our findings here in the hope that the more voters understand, the more we will demand that Congress fix the problems immediately.

We ask you simply to follow the budget numbers below.

The President's current-year budget assumes total receipts from income, corporate, payroll, excise, and estate, and other taxes of $2.47 trillion.

Expenditures are broken into three basic categories.

n The first, Appropriated Programs, which includes security (military, CIA, FBI, etc.) and non-security (all other federal departments, offices, and employees), anticipates expenditures of $1.32 trillion.

n The second, Mandatory Programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, federal pensions, and other mandatory outlays), anticipates expenditures of $2.25 trillion.

n The third, interest on the national debt, anticipates expenditures of $225 billion.

These three categories total $3.8 trillion. The President's budget therefore anticipates a $1.33 trillion deficit in receipts over expenditures.

The total cost of the Mandatory Programs (entitlements) and interest, which the government is obligated and has promised to pay, is $2.475 trillion, which exceeds the budget's projected total receipts and leaves all Appropriated Programs, all functions of our government, totally unfunded.

The critical question is obvious: where will the money to run the government come from?

Congress will have no option other than continue to borrow, to print money, and to raise the national debt, which the President's budget projects will reach $25.9 trillion by September, 2022. Ten years from now, by the President's estimate, the annual cost of interest on the national debt will leap to $850 billion.

As concerned Americans, we believe that recognizing and accepting that America is facing a national financial catastrophe is imperative. It is an emergency that demands immediate remedy. We also believe that our ... representatives (president and members of congress) (must) focus forthrightly and forcefully on the financial solvency of the United States. Everything else, including the partisan rhetoric of the recent presidential campaigns, is merely distraction from the core problem.

If we elect representatives who will admit to and act upon the problem now, and if all Americans have the fortitude to admit to and withstand the pain the problem-solving will necessarily bring, we Americans may still have time, unlike Greece and perhaps Spain, to keep the United States economy and way of life from imploding under its own weight.

Those wishing to watch the video may do so on You Tube at United States Budget Dilemma.wmv.

About the authors: Larry Angove of Traverse City is president and chief executive officer of the Association of Directory Publishers; Warren Cline of Peninsula Township is a CPA in practice in Traverse City; and Paul Schultz of Traverse City is an attorney and mediator.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.

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