Oct 212010
 
Authors: Tim Erickson

It is a pathetic irony that the same politicians who have accused the millionaires of Wall Street of driving the economy off a cliff are perpetrating the same financial shenanigans with our own federal government.

Those in power have abused the nation’s credit card to the point where our country, at last count, is 13.7 trillion dollars in the red, equivalent to roughly 500 percent of the government’s annual “income” –– tax revenues.

Long after Nancy Pelosi has expired, students our age will be forced to pay the interest on this debt for the rest of our working lives. This is the definition of generational theft. It’s revolting that these guys are sticking our generation with this upcoming huge future tax hike.

While there are many worthwhile things the government spends money on such as national security (to a degree), scientific research, infrastructure, national parks and loans for promising students, the amount of government waste and unsustainable entitlement spending has reached truly epic proportions.

Even Senator Bennet, who voted for the $800 billion stimulus, the majority of which has been spent, has publicly stated that, “We have acquired $13 trillion in debt … in my view, we have nothing to show for it.”

According to the 2009 Medicare and Social Security Trustees report, current unfunded liabilities are a whopping $107 trillion. The National Center for Economic Policy Analysis has run the numbers.

In order for Social Security and Medicare to be funded by the time we reach retirement age in 2054, payroll taxes will have to climb from 12.7 percent to 37 percent. Factoring in an additional 25 percent federal income tax and 4 percent Colorado state tax, the government would take away 66 cents of every dollar a Coloradan earned, and this number doesn’t even include sales tax, property tax, and fees.

Under these assumptions, tax rates for average working Americans will be over 70 percent. With a 70 percent tax rate, how is anyone supposed to independently save for retirement, let alone buy a Jitterbug? Keep in mind that a 100 percent tax rate defines communism.

We must hold politicians who fail to address this generational Ponzi scheme accountable. While they continue giving unaffordable entitlements to enhance their short-term political fortunes, young voters should demand specifics on how they plan to address the issue after the elections.

Politicians’ options appear to be limited. Either they can increase the retirement age and/or reduce benefits, or they can truthfully acknowledge that your taxes are going to go through the roof. Some may claim that these problems can be dealt with in the future at the “appropriate time,” but the impact of unrestrained entitlement spending is already affecting the broader economy.

In 2010, the Social Security Trust Fund began operating the red. In other words, it paid out more money in benefits than it received through payroll taxes. It is currently on the road to bankruptcy. Medicare is a fiscal concern of even greater magnitude.

While there are undoubtedly a few reasoned, independent and informed member of Congress, the vast majority of the political animals in Washington from both parties have shown nothing but incompetence.

Whether it’s spending billions on foreign wars, perpetrating generational theft, not securing the border, being bought off by lobbyists, not reading bills to be voted on, borrowing trillions to fund pork-barrel projects or simply defying the will of the majority, members of Congress have repeatedly demonstrated arrogance and incompetence.

There’s a reason why Congress has a 22 percent approval rating. If you don’t like the status quo, please don’t hesitate to vote the bums out!

Tim Erickson is a graduate electrical engineering student. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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