Grandkids will pay for federal spending spree

Published 7:35 am Wednesday, December 23, 2009

There are many things weighing heavily on my mind these days, and I want to share some of those thoughts with you. But first, I want to cite a few things for which I am grateful.

I thank God I was born in the United States of America. This is certainly the greatest country in the world. Being born in 1930 taught me that having a good home, loving parents, enough to eat and work to do on our family farm all meant I was rich in every way (except financially). It took about 20 years to fully realize that fact.

Good health is another blessing. Add a wonderful wife of 55 years, five loving daughters, four fine sons-in-law, 21 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren and you know why I feel so richly blessed.

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So what is weighing so heavily on my mind? The fact that this wonderful family of ours may not enjoy a life of growing opportunity in a peaceful, prosperous country. I am increasingly concerned that we are leaving our grandchildren a real mess. In one generation we have gone from a creditor nation to a debtor nation. Our debt is now $11 trillion. The current unfunded pension and Medicare liability is more than $60 trillion. I cannot even imagine how much that is, but my granddaughter, Laura Albright, told me how it was explained to her. She pointed out that a million seconds is roughly 12 days while a trillion seconds is 30,000 years.

It would be one thing if we were just reaching into our own pockets for all this spending, but we are not. We are reaching into those little ones’ pockets, and since they obviously do not have the cash, we are simply borrowing (in their name) those huge sums (mostly from the Chinese).

Contrast this with how we dealt with financing World War II. We bought war bonds, gave up luxuries and, in some cases, necessities, to pay for it ourselves. Not so today. Today we demand more and more from our government as entitlements. Our politicians, ever eager to be re-elected, gladly vote them for us, never reminding us the government has only those resources they first take from us or borrow in the name of our children and grandchildren (again from the Chinese), all the while reinforcing the illusion that we are entitled to it and somehow it is a gift from the government.

Of course, the elected congressmen and senators who “gave” us all these goodies will be retired on their fat pensions, also currently unfunded but an obligation to be paid by the aforementioned grandchildren, when the bill comes due.

It is fashionable, of course, for the Democrats to blame our current state of affairs on George W. Bush. Likewise, it is fashionable for Republicans to find many reasons to bemoan the country’s decline into socialism on Democrats. Where does that get us, or, more importantly, where does that get our grandchildren? It is estimated that our current and future unfunded liabilities amount to more than $250,000 for every man, woman and child in our United States. Where are the giants we need as leaders in government?

Not many years ago our national budget was balanced. Bill Clinton takes credit for that, of course, but it is useful to remember that happened only after Republicans took control of the Congress. Maybe such a balance in government could save us from ourselves again. A Republican Congress would force the bipartisan government that President Obama promised when he was campaigning.

Our government is letting us down big time. More and more they seem to make decisions designed to get re-elected. Witness the $300 million Sen. Mary Landreau, D-La., got for her vote to move the health care bill forward for debate. By the end of March 2009 the government had spent, loaned or issued guarantees in the bailout equal to $42,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. That’s to cover the bailout of Bear Stearns, the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, loans to AIG, huge loans to about a dozen huge banks, takeover of Chrysler and General Motors.

What did we get here in Albert Lea? A new airport runway and the Interstate 90-County Road 46 reconstruction.

In 2009 the Obama government will have to borrow almost half of every dollar it spends. When will we wake up to the fact that government does not have a single dollar that it does not take from us, the taxpayers, or borrow?

Someday you and I may realize that this is our country — our government and the problem we have allowed on our watch will be passed on to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We should all be ashamed!

Paul Overgaard is a member of the Freeborn County Republican Party.