Worse news

By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator


SEPT. 9, 2014 -- On CNN (9/7/14) Fareed Zakaria covered the bad news of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the trouble in Pakistan and then, turning, Zakaria said: "I always like to report the good news". The good news was that the deficit for FY 2014 was going to be a: "a lesser percent of the GDP."

I served on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee for thirty years, listened to all the economists and we never heard of a "deficit as a percentage of the GDP". The Budget Committee fought deficits of ten million, thirty million and never thought of deficits as a "percentage of the GDP". We always struggled to pay for government; to avoid borrowing. Then when Zakaria announced that this year's fiscal deficit was estimated to be $506 billion, I knew Washington had gone crazy. I can see Senator Muskie now. We had thirteen subcommittees on the Senate Appropriations Committee, each working their own thing, and no one ever knowing the sum impact on the economy. Muskie founded the budget process in 1973 and was the first Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. The committee struggled to avoid deficits in the millions - not billions - not a half trillion.

In 2001, President George W. Bush was given a balanced budget. Bush cut taxes, started wars, added prescription drugs to Medicare, stimulated, bailed out, all without paying for them - increasing the debt $5 trillion in eight years. The recession of 2008 has been over for five years but President Obama followed Bush's lead, increasing the debt $7 trillion in six years. The U.S. paid for all its wars, recessions, depressions and it took 200 years for this nation to incur a debt of $1 trillion in 1981. Now, in fourteen years, we are increasing the deficit $12 trillion. The richest country in the world ought to be paying for its government - not borrowing. The interest costs on the debt is already $231 billion with interests at near zero. When interest reaches its normal level, we'll be spending almost $1 trillion for nothing. This is lunacy.

Zakaria's good news is the worst news ever.

Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2014, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

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Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives.

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