Lerner’s “Crazy” Talk

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Over the years, Washington elites have cast their share of caustic comments at those who stand in the way of bigger government. But the latest round of insults–by former IRS official Lois Lerner, takes the cake. Lerner crossed the line when she snarkily stated in an e-mail, “So, we don’t need to worry about alien teRrorists. (sic) It’s our own crazies that will take us down.”[1]

This malicious rhetoric comes as no surprise to Jenny Beth Martin, Co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.“‘It demonstrates malice aforethought and underlies her deliberate abuse of power,’[Martin] said in an email to The Fiscal Times. ‘This orchestrated campaign of intimidation against conservatives should be investigated by a special counsel so Americans can learn the truth about the Obama administration’s abuse of power.’”[2]

Lerner’s intent to privately malign “rabid” talk-show callers, and those who believe “we’ve bankrupted ourselves” or “we’ll never be able to pay off our debt”is a public slap in the face to millions of Americans who know Washington has a spending problem.

A survey, conducted by Peter G. Peterson Foundation this spring, shows that 87% of voters think “the national debt is stifling the economy,” while 88% “would have a brighter outlook if the country held less debt.”[3] An earlier poll by Rasmussen confirms Peterson’s findings, highlighting that 60% of voters feel the “federal government should cut spending to help [the] economy.” [4]

Why is it “crazy” for so many Americans to be concerned about our nation’s debt?

Maybe it’s the ever-growing $17.5 Trillion that Washington continues to ignore. While businesses and families are scraping by, those in D.C. print and spend billions with no qualms. Budgets to them are mere spending suggestions; and that spending is strapping each man, woman and child with $55,000 of debt, according to the national debt clock.

Maybe it’s because our country lost its esteemed credit rating. Even after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the United States rating to AA+, Washington still will not listen,causing Moody to give another warning. “If those negotiations lead to specific policies that produce a stabilization and then downward trend in the ratio of federal debt to GDP over the medium term, the rating will likely be affirmed,” Moody’s said in a press release… “If those negotiations fail to produce such policies, however, Moody’s would expect to lower the rating, probably to Aa1.” [5]

Maybe it’s the economic peril we’re watching unfold in Greece, which was triggered by “years of unrestrained spending, cheap lending and failure to implement financial reforms.” [6] This toxic cocktail of bad fiscal policy has an eerie ring to it. CBO’s most recent report paints a grim long-term outlook for our debt-GDP ratio, which currently hovers around 74%.

“CBO has extrapolated its baseline projections through 2039…by producing an extended baseline that generally reflects current law. The extended baseline projections show a substantial imbalance in the federal budget over the long term, with revenues falling well short of spending. As a result, budget deficits are projected to rise steadily and, by 2039, to push federal debt held by the public up to a percentage of GDP seen only once before in U.S. history (just after World War II). The harm that such growing debt would cause to the economy is not factored into CBO’s detailed long-term projections but is considered in further analysis presented in this report.”[7]

Maybe it’s the wisdom our founders possessed regarding the ills of accumulating massive amounts of debt. In his address to the House of Representatives in 1793,George Washington stated, “No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable.”

Whatever the reason, it’s all “crazy” talk, according to Lerner.