With the United States’ national debt inching toward $17 trillion, Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., decided to enlist the help of Central Lakes College students, faculty and folks from the lakes area last Wednesday to come up with ideas that might make a dent in that growing national debt number.
Mr. Nolan partnered with CLC and the Concord Coalition (a nonpartisan group that emphasizes fiscal stewardship).
It wasn’t a kitchen cabinet affair like President Andrew Jackson instituted in the 1800s, but it was a meeting with the folks, young and old, in search of out of the box ideas that would whittle away at the debt. It was a noble effort.
Nolan told those gathered at the forum that their efforts in exploring possible solutions targeting debt reductions would give them a taste of the difficulty facing members of the House of Representatives and Senate.
Coalition regional director Sara Imhof joined Nolan in affording those in attendance an idea of the scope of the federal indebtedness. She noted that long-term and short-term challenges needed to be addressed. She noted that mandatory spending such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, federal employee retirement programs, and food stamps were among the untouchables.
In addition to the obligations that must be met by the federal government, there are discretionary items that must be accounted for, including defense expenditures.
While it might seem like a simple task — cuts across the board as sequestration demanded — or reduce all non essential spending. Well, who determines what is essential and non-essential spending?
One party at the forum suggested a reduction in what is spent at the National Institute of Health. That brought protestations from one who said, “Research is the life blood of medicine.”
Other responses included the idea to increase spending by an additional $1 trillion and make cuts to our military while adding a progressive tax.
Wait a minute. More spending? More taxes and cuts to the military?
Wasn’t the goal of the forum to reduce the debt?
It seems as though we’ve recently had our taxes raised (and we haven’t experienced the full impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act tax yet).
Cutting military expenditures is OK. However, when we’re in the middle of a decade-long war in Afghanistan and debating whether we should launch an assault on Syria, now may not be the best time to cut military spending. (Cruise missiles cost about $1.5 million each.)
Congressman Nolan and those individuals participating in the forum did a noble thing. Perhaps it is something Congress should consider. Perhaps Mr. Nolan will be able to get the House and Senate off the dime and provide the U.S. with a balanced budget.