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I was baby-sitting my 2-year-old grandson Jack a couple of weeks ago and one of the Breakfast Posse asked him if he had been “scared” sleeping over. He patted my arm and said, “Granpa’s here.” That’ll choke ya up! A little boy’s unshakeable faith that nothing can touch him because a broken down old guy will take care of it. Which immediately brings me back to the monkey house fight that has become our Congress.

By Pat Merriman

All of the hyperbole and safe city nonsense aside, the most crushing cruelty to little kids like Jack is this ridiculous tax burden and national debt crisis being foisted on them when they enter into the work force. Tax Freedom Day was April 24 and how in the heck did we ever get in this mess?

The numbers boggle. The national debt commenced in 1791 under President Washington at over $75 million and has gone up/down each year topping $100 million in 1816 (Madison), dropping to a measly $33,733 in 1835 (Jackson) and creeping back up to $10 billion in 1918 (Wilson), $100 billion in 1943 (Franklin Roosevelt), $500 billion in 1975 (Ford), $1 trillion in 1982 (Reagan), $10 trillion in 2008 (Bush II) and almost $20 trillion by 2016 under Barrack Obama less than eight years later.

That’s right! Under Obama, the debt doubled and, as of today, that’s $61,323 for every soul living in this country. More disturbing — it comprises 107 percent of our GDP and 558 percent of annual federal revenues. Think of it like this: We owe $20 trillion on the mortgage, we’re upside down because its 7 percent more than our net worth and we are spending almost six times our annual income, i.e., putting it on a high-interest credit card to run our household budget.

Who owns this debt? Social Security (16 percent), Federal Reserve (12 percent), China (8 percent), Japan (7 percent) and mutual/money-market funds (6 percent). The other 50 percent? Nobody seems to know. Hopefully, not loan sharks.

But, here’s some educated guesses: $1.1 trillion of the 2016 federal budget goes to Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Plan and Obama Care. Social security costs $944 billion. Entitlement programs are expensive and, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid collectively account for half of the entire budget!

Armed services cost $615.5 billion. Keeping in mind that only $148 billion is used to actually pay armed service salaries while our military hardware is falling apart. Other entitlement programs include $260 billion (education/child care), $180 billion (veteran’s benefits), $108.3 billion (food and nutrition assistance), $87.5 billion (environmental and land/water issues), $82.8 billion (child care and other tax breaks), $56 billion (international affairs), $51.6 billion (housing), $43.7 billion (unemployment compensation), $38.7 billion (immigration and law enforcement), $35 billion (miscellaneous), $31 billion (science/technology), $15.4 billion (FEMA), and $14 billion (NATO and ISIS).

But, nothing holds a candle to the credit-card interest on the national debt – $283 billion. Apparently Washington, D.C. didn’t pay attention in math class when the perils of compound interest was disclosed. And, remember, this is just the federal budget while we also have state income tax (California’s highest at 13.3 percent), sales tax (Tennessee maxes at 9.46 percent), and real estate taxes (New Jersey wins at 2.29 percent with median home prices of $319,900).

So, as we muck through the swamp of disinformation being troweled out in the mainstream media, let’s just get this great country back on track and demand that our elected officials get this mess sorted out! It’s not fair to Jack or any other child who inherits this mess in the next decade.

Pat Merriman is the Dunn County State Attorney. He is a photographer and also officiates high school and college athletics events in the area.


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