As ‘extremist’ labels abound, real fiscal crisis is kept secret from Americans

Prof. James D. Hamilton (Photo: UC-San Diego)

Prof. James D. Hamilton (Photo: UC-San Diego)

How many times have you heard the ‘extremist’ label used as various politicians talk about funding ongoing government operations? Perhaps the overuse of that term is a response to another upcoming discussion about money when the debt ceiling is considered mid-October.

The label is pure politics—an insult towards all of us who believe the government spends too much and is not accountable for the trillions in revenue taxpayers send to Washington. Fact is, there is a real fiscal crisis in our country and at present, compliant media and many elected officials are keeping it secret. Start with claims the deficit has been reduced. It has, somewhat. After all, the government took in more money this year than it ever has, partly due to tax hikes. There was a small impact from the sequester.

Not to celebrate. Why?

As Reason magazine explained in the November, 2013 issue (print), official debt has “exploded.” In 2007, the acknowledged debt was $5 trillion. By 2013, that same figure stood at $12 trillion.

What’s the secret? That’s not the full debt.

The real debt was around $70 trillion in 2012. Reason cited a study by James D. Hamilton, an economist from the University of California-San Diego. Hamilton disclosed off-the-books debt includes guarantees on housing debt, education loans, bank deposit insurance, Federal Reserve holdings, Social Security, Medicare, and retirement costs taxpayers will carry for civil service employees among others. All that’s without flood insurance subsidies.

So-called “progressives” in charge of running the government have not addressed that matter, and when someone does try to address it, that individual or group is labeled an “extremist.”

Aren’t the real extremists the old guard on both sides of the aisle—those who apparently believe money grows on trees?

Do Americans realize we are on the hook for all that debt, and our grandchildren will be burdened by it as well? Even those of us not formally tied to a tea party group are concerned about the debt.

As media focus on the fireworks between government reformers and the old guard, Americans should pay attention to that secret debt, for our own sakes and those of our children. The people hurling the term “extremists” are those who want to do nothing about the debt other than increase it.

As the old guard screams about a “shutdown,” bear in mind we’re talking 17 percent of the government.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Oct. 6, 2013)

About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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