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Demolishing the Debt
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Essay by:Amy Niehues
Emporia State University
The United States has built up a tremendous amount of debt. Many American citizens do not understand why there is such a large debt or where it came from. Furthermore, they do not understand the harm it will cause to future generations. The citizens of America need to recognize the increasing problem of national debt and take action now.
Americans have all been warned to use credit wisely. When using a credit card for example, it is wise to pay off the bill as soon as possible so the interest does not add up. A person who charged $1,000 at six percent interest would owe $1,060. The next month rolls around and the bill is neglected so the person now owes $1123.60. The following month’s bill would then be $1191.02. After only three months, the person has to pay $191.02 more than what he or she originally spent. This example shows what poor credit decisions can do to one person. A similar concept applies to the government’s debt situation, but the government’s fiscal imbalance is extreme and growing.
The National debt has accumulated from government deficit after government deficit. Interest is added on to the debt and it increases even more. Then, interest is charged on the debt and the previous interest. This cycle continues and the debt multiplies faster and faster, digging the country deeper and deeper into a hole. The national debt is getting worse at an increasing rate and something needs to be done now so it does not continue this way.
The United States’ debt has been piling up for decades, because citizens are receiving more benefits than they fund through taxes. An excessive amount of the government spending and its promises that create benefits for Americans of the last generation will be financed by this generation; the debt plus the interest are being pushed to this younger generation. If action is not taken now, the younger generation may think it is alright to shift even more debt onto their children. Along the way we will face loosing good government programs, paying much higher taxes, or both. The debt needs to be paid off so that this generation’s children do not lose benefits from the government such as public schools. The problem must be fixed before it becomes very damaging.
The first step to fighting the United States debt is to make it a national priority. The President, and congressional representatives all must understand the situation and address the sacrifices we must make. The legislators need to realize that their actions can sometimes benefit people now but cause great harm to future taxpayers. Debt elimination must be a high priority. Instead of postponing the debt payments, some government programs and spending will have to be postponed. The government will have to “tighten its belt” as some would say.
The public also needs to be made aware of the situation and how it will affect them. It should not cost much to educate most citizens. The debt problem can easily be explained in terms most Americans can understand. It is similar to a person running up a huge credit card bill all of his life and then giving it to his children to pay off entirely on their own. This would put the dilemma into an understandable perspective. Then, the real consequence and solutions could be presented to the citizens. One point that especially needs to be stressed is why lowering taxes leads to a bigger deficit. When Americans understand this, they will hopefully put less pressure on politicians to lower taxes. Then, the politicians and lawmakers can place a higher priority on debt reduction instead of lowering taxes.
The United States cannot clear the debt overnight. It will have to be paid off slowly, but slowly is better than not at all. To eliminate debt the government budget needs to have a surplus instead of a deficit. One way to achieve a surplus is to have an increase in taxes. Most of the government budget comes from personal and payroll taxes, so this is the easiest way to get more funds. The government will then use the surplus money towards the debt. Taxpayers need to be aware that they are going to have to pay more taxes in order to get more benefits from the government. The country’s current debt is partially due to citizens receiving more benefits than the amount they pay in taxes.
If taxes are increased, people may have a slightly lower standard of living than they experienced previously. Doing this voluntarily would be much better than being forced to by an intense economic recession or collapse that could result from too much national debt. The President and Congress should set an example for United States and the rest of the world. They should cut back on frivolous spending and fancy objects. This act would show the American people, that eliminating national debt really is a priority and that these legislators can be trusted with the taxpayers’ money.
The citizens of America need to recognize the problem of national debt and take action now. Once the problem is recognized, it can become a national priority and plans can be implemented. The longer this problem is pushed to the side, the harder it will be to overcome. If the country does not demolish the mentality that created this debt, then the debt may demolish this country.
»A new report finds the main problem in getting the public to deal with our fiscal problems isn't opposition to tax increases or spending cuts -- it's their lack of trust in the government to spend their money wisely.