Make sacrifices to avert security risk of debt

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Friday, June 10, 2011
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is among commentaries written by students in the Washington Seminar program at Janesville Parker High School. The seminar is for students in the advanced placement U.S. government course taught by Joe Van Rooy.

The largest national security risk is our combined national debt and improper budgeting. To fix this, we must work together and make sacrifices.

Change will not occur overnight. We do not know how much time we have left before a crisis, so we should “pretend we have none,” according to Douglas Holz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director.

When dealing with this problem, everything must be on the table. However, we must not stick with short-term spending bills or single-year budgets. Instead we must create a credible multiyear budget plan that focuses on deficit reduction, debt stabilization and long-term debt reduction.

Initially this plan should aim to stabilize our debt at around 60 percent of GDP over the span of the next eight to 10 years. To do this, we must pass budget enforcement mechanisms, such as strict PAYGO requirements that make spending legislation budget neutral, or an act like the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill. In addition to modifying the current budget process into a long-term plan that is not easily strayed from, Congressman Paul Ryan says we must “look at the drivers of debt to fully address the issue.”

One such driver is the increasing cost of health care. This must be addressed to help stabilize Medicare and Medicaid, in addition to benefits for federal employees. This is relatively complicated because no one knows what for sure could help fix rising health care costs.

Social Security is relatively easy to fix compared to health care. In addition to decreasing expenditures, we must increase revenues. The easiest way to do this is to increase taxes.

Compared to most other developed nations, our personal income taxes are relatively low. Although we all will have to make personal sacrifices to achieve the necessary goals, this will help stabilize our future prosperity.

Last updated: 5:42 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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