Some historical context in discussing the federal debt

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Some historical context in discussing the federal debt.

When Bill Clinton was president, the national debt rose by an annual average of $193 billion; when the profligate George W. Bush was in the White House, the yearly debt increases averaged $612 billion. On Obama’s watch, by contrast, the federal debt has been skyrocketing by more than $1.5 trillion per year. It took 40 presidents and nearly two centuries, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan , for the US government to accumulate $1.5 trillion in indebtedness. The 44th president – aided and abetted by Congress – enlarges the federal debt by that amount every 12 months.


One comment

  • Joe Doakes

    February 22, 2009

    To The Editor:

    Response to Mr. Geller’s Column:

    The Great Depression did not end as a result of government largess; the Great Depression ended because the US went to war, and in so doing annihilated the enemies ability to produce goods, and thus wage war. By the wars end the only country with any manufacturing capacity was the good old USA. Admittedly, FDR’s policies might well have saved this nation from further erosion, but the birth of entitlement programs of that era, and those that followed, will in the next three decades combined with the interest on our debt, completely drain the productive resources of our nation. That is, our entire federal budget will be equal to those financial promises, and if the next forty-seven months of this administration are anything like the first one – those promises will buy me a cup of coffee, and a doughnut when I begin to rely on them.

    As far as your apparent animus toward Republicans for trying to be, at long last, responsible with the funny money that is the American dollar; the toughest part of any fight is not deciding to do the right thing – it is doing it. Under Minority Whip Cantor the Republican party demonstrated that it is prepared to, at long last, stand for fiscal responsibility. Seven Democrats stood with Republicans on the last “stimulus” vote. While I do not have the responsibility of being director of any part of the Republican party; I am a registered Republican. My party provided the leadership, Abraham Lincoln, that preserved the Union and ended slavery. My party provided the leadership, Ronald W. Reagan, that pulled the United States, and the rest of the world out of the malaise of the 70’s. I’m proud of the Republican party and the spine it is showing against this self-destructive economic philosophy.

    In so far as your assertion that the stimulus bill will create millions of jobs and provide for various forms of alternative energy. Sometimes when it snows I hire my teenage neighbor to shovel; my neighbor is a smart hardworking fellow, he once revealed he is saving it for college. Why? He wants to grow economically, maybe he will decide to sacrifice present wants for a matter of years and realize the goal of coming back to Katonah and raise a family – as I have. That is real job creation; make work projects do not create communities, they destroy them. As for alternative energy, there is only one, nuclear power. At present not one reactor is under construction in the entire United States. All other forms of alternative energy even if we max them out – wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass – do not have the horsepower to do the job. Even if they did we cannot transport enough power from those areas that create it to those that will consume it.

    The only way out of our current situation is to determine what is absolutely necessary and to use the organs of the federal government to fix the damage it caused, and take the rest, and throw it away. In doing that we will end the constant cycle that creates one crises after another. In doing this we will be able to rebuild our banks, our military, our communities, and fund restructured entitlement programs via a vibrant and growing economy. Building modern nuclear power plants, using that clean power to convert domestically produced coal to domestically produced liquid fuel; and continue to support applied science to research solar panel technology to shrink the cost of production, and increase its capacity to generate power and batteries to store it on cloudy days.

    I did not live through the great depression, and I am sorry you had to – I did however, with the help of my older sister, survive a violent alcoholic mother who thought the world owed her something – she was right, but it wasn’t a roof, or a drink – and it certainly wasn’t something a five year old or an eight year old could deliver. There are “eight million stories in the naked city” mine is no worse nor any better than anyones – it is just different. I survived that abuse, I and you, will survive this abuse. Betting against America or an American(especially me) is always a bad bet; especially when our collective back is against a wall. We did it before and we will do it again, I have not a single doubt in my mind as to our ability to overcome this manufactured fiscal disaster or any other for that matter, real or imagined. We know that when we harness everyday wisdom, and apply it to seemingly complex situations we solve them. Since this Nation’s founding we have overcome every single challenge that has been placed in our way – we innovate, we compete, we overcome. And at times go to war to restore the peace or our liberty, and families all across America bear the raw cost of those battles – including mine.

    In fact, I think this nightmare will be fertile ground for any politician, Democrat or Republican, to advocate for fiscal soundness, insurmountable national defense, restructured entitlement programs, and individual State control of the rest. Sir, politics ought not to be about who wins and who looses, or what party prevails, it ought to be about who can best articulate, and promote our shared values, and principles and in doing that lift all citizens up, not a few at the expense of the other. Remember, as President Reagan said, “If we lower our standards we lower the flag.” I say we put the shovels away and grab a bull dozer and a half track and get to work. I say we take our eyes off the politicians and put them back on the business leaders, the engineers, the scientists and the service members who preserve this great country, and all those men and women that make this country move everyday without so much as a thank you. This is where our attention should be, this is where our hope will turn to reality, this is where change will hone the granite that is the impenetrable American spirit.


    Joe Doakes

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