3 Issues Congress Must Address to Get Our Debt Under Control

For those of you who still are skeptical about our debt crisis, know that our debt will be 100% of our GDP by the middle of next decade. If that isn't enough, our per capita debt is 35% higher than that of Greece … For the grand finale, our government's financial burden increases by about $10 million per minute.

The more we prolong addressing our debt, the worse it gets. If Congress wishes to protect this country and the people, they need to act decisively, and now. Here are a few areas where they can start:

1. Stupid spending:


First and foremost, Washington needs to scrap "stupid spending," for lack of a better term. I cannot imagine that any politician, on either side, believes in our current economic state, spending millions between robot squirrels, talking urinal cakes, and more is dire. This obviously will not address the entire problem, but eliminating these smaller, wasteful expenses puts Congress in the mindset they need to be in — one of frugality and responsible stewardship. For those of you who did not figure it out, this falls under the commonsense bracket. I do not think Congress should be credited with compromise for agreeing on this.

Now, on to compromise and the heavy hitters:

2. Taxes:

 

When talking fiscal compromise the first and overarching two fields are always taxes and spending. Before taking any steps forward, we need to throw out the ultimatum mentality. Do Republicans support lower taxes and less government involvement in these areas? Yes. Can they support those things, while still compromising on some aspects of the tax debate? Again, yes.

We can start with loopholes and simplification. Loophole costs run up to around $20 billion per year, and our tax code's complexity costs us 6 billion hours and $160 billion annually.

Additionally, capital gains taxes could be reworked. The person who inherits a $500,000 building and most likely will not have the liquidity to cover high taxes on it is a completely different situation than the CEO who opts out of a salary, in favor of stock options because it is taxed at nearly half the rate. We have started reworking capital gains taxes, but still have some wiggle room left.

3. Spending:

 

Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are becoming a cliché demand for a reason. We currently spend 45% of our budget on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Even worse, that number will increase to 60% by 2022. Furthermore, less and less people are paying into them, while more and more people are being paid. I do not think it is right to deprive Americans who paid into their services, but we do have to adjust them in some regard — it is absurd to be spending nearly half, and soon to be nearly two-thirds, of our budget on these three services.

The Heritage Foundation has outlined a plan to reform the whole debt, and although the proposal will certainly not pass through holistically, parts of it certainly merit a discussion, specifically the parts focusing on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Although Washington never has been know for its common sense or compromise, we need to have faith that things will be different this time around. If not, my generation and the ones to come will pay the consequences.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Joe Belsterling

Not really sure "what" I am yet, but I'm certainly trying it all out. Currently, I am launching a startup of my own and serve as an advisor to a financial services startup, specifically dealing with their business strategy, legal issues, and investor/advisor/customer solicitation. I just wrapped up serving as interim FInance Director for a Congressional Campaign and co-founder of a hackathon, TribeHacks.com. Past experiences include working for a financial technology startup and working for several political startups/organizations/non-profits. I love anything to do with nature and closely follow Pittsburgh sports, NCAA Basketball, NCAA Lacrosse, and the Stock Market.

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