Seven Creative Solutions to the National Debt Crisis

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, which is a government sponsored enterprise created by an act of Congress. The Fed even returns any profits from its activities to the US Treasury anyways. Its assets are assets of the federal government. This is money the government essentially owes to itself. Last year, Ron Paul suggested that Congress knock all that money off the national debt (and thereby create some breathing room between Congress and the debt ceiling) by instructing the Federal Reserve to forgive all those debts by destroying the government bonds on its balance sheet. Why not?

Back in 2009, a pair of creative Minnesota lawmakers recommended the state government close its $6 billion budget deficit by selling off Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to private companies to own and manage. It’s a creative solution for a quick shot in the arm of needed revenue that also creates a systemic fix by taking mismanaged government programs out of the budget and putting them in the hands of private businesses to manage and improve.

A good place for the federal government to start with a solution like this would be the US Postal Service. Washington’s postal service is poorly-managed, inefficient, and unnecessary in the era of email, FedEx, and UPS. The USPS fleet of more than 250,000 vehicles, its massive staff (as the third largest employer in the US), its infrastructure, and its operational expenses cost the taxpayer billions every year.

Selling these assets off to the private sector would put them to more productive economic uses, raise a quick round of revenue now, and take some of the pressure off the federal budget year after year.

In 2010, Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana with the SAM (Small Amount of Marijuana) program. Before the SAM program, Philadelphia spent thousands of dollars on every drug case. DA Williams said “We were spending thousands of dollars for when someone possessed $10 or $15 worth of weed. It just didn’t make sense,” estimating just 12 months after the SAM program started, that decriminalization had already saved the city $2 million. In addition to court costs for prosecuting marijuana offenders, consider the fiscal impact of US incarceration of so many non-violent drug users.

Then there’s the opportunity cost of foregone tax revenues that government could be collecting on marijuana if it were legalized. America is both spending and missing out on raising billions of dollars at every level of government at a time when its finances are at the point of crisis.

Should the government legalize and tax marijuana to reduce the national debt?

As recently noted at IVN, lifting sanctions on countries like Cuba would open up valuable economic opportunities and help grow the US economy, meaning a wider base of taxable wealth to boost federal revenues without even raising taxes:

“Moving to ease sanctions on foreign countries and establish permanent normal trade relations with countries currently under economic blockade could go a long way toward fostering international good will while opening up valuable markets and economic opportunities for trade, stimulating growth and job creation in the US. It would be like a multi-billion dollar economic stimulus package that taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for and the US government wouldn’t have to borrow money to finance, and its effects wouldn’t be temporary, they would be permanent, systemic, and structural.”

The net present value of privatizing Social Security is estimated to be as great as $20,000,000,000,000. Fifteen years after Chile privatized its own version of Social Security in 1980, the results were stellar:

“Pensions in the new private system already are 50 to 100 percent higher–depending on whether they are old-age, disability, or survivor pensions–than they were in the pay-as-you-go system. The resources administered by the private pension funds amount to $25 billion, or around 40 percent of GNP as of 1995.

By improving the functioning of both the capital and the labor markets, pension privatization has been one of the key reforms that has pushed the growth rate of the economy upwards from the historical 3 percent a year to 6.5 percent on average during the last 12 years. It is also a fact that the Chilean savings rate has increased to 27 percent of GNP and the unemployment rate has decreased to 5.0 percent since the reform was undertaken.”

While the national debt is technically at $16 trillion, the total outstanding obligations Washington has over the next few decades as a result of programs like Social Security is a much more harrowing number. Social Security is at a point of crisis, and Americans already have, in Chile, a working model for successful reform.

Conservatives and Republicans can get on board with eliminating corporate welfare– that is federal handouts to corporations in the form of subsidies, credits, and bailouts– because it’s a form of wealth redistribution. Progressives and Democrats can get on board because it’s a regressive distribution of wealth from working class Americans to wealth businesses. Why should companies worth billions ever be on the government dole? Writing at Forbes in 2008, Russell Roberts, noted: “Corporate welfare rewards those corporations that excel at lobbying rather than serving their customers. Eliminating it will save $100 billion annually.”

With Osama bin Laden dead, the Taliban crushed, and Al Qaeda’s top leaders killed or captured along with most of the organization destroyed or out of Afghanistan, it’s time for America to declare victory in the War on Terror and bring the troops in Afghanistan home to a hero’s welcome, rather than leave them in the region to fight foreign, ethnic civil wars and guard poppy fields while borrowing money by the billions to pay for it. With Saddam Hussein dead and a new regime in place in Iraq, it’s also time for Washington to withdraw from that region, curtailing federal spending by billions more.

Defense hawks should consider that there is arguably no greater, nor more imminent threat to America’s national security than its unsustainable and rapidly exploding national debt. Unless policymakers can get it under control, future generations of Americans will be left vulnerable by a government simply unable to afford national defense.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. Andrew Mahone When the debt becomes a problem even remotely comparable to our other problems, Angela. Robert, the gross inequalities are directly attributable to a widening gap in salaries and the ability of the wealthy to pay far lower effective tax rates than the working class. In what way is national debt keeping individuals poor?
  2. Angela Towry I am speaking to the person that made the statement that I posted under,Lloyd.Andrew would be who the question was directed at.
  3. Debra Idlelies Our entire financial system is a shame, because the FED is owned by private individuals and we are beholden, as a society, to pay them interest. Do not believe this charade in Congress, as it is just another tool used to divide us and conquer the citizenry. If we quit letting the FED control our money and printed our own, debt free, we would not be in debt and we could pay for all that we need. It's so simple, most people will not every understand it. Here's a good book to read, if this piques your interest. http://www.amazon.com/Web-Debt-Shocking-Truth-System/dp/0983330859/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386632444&sr=1-1&keywords=web+of+debt%2C+brown
  4. William Griffith Increase taxes on incomes over 100k, pay SS tax on all income, eliminate corporate tax breaks.
  5. Jacqueline Lynn Reduce Congress to part time status and pay. Reduce their perks and staffs! Put every American elected official on Social Security!
  6. Marilyn Daley Get rid of the departments that do nothing but ruin our lives; education, energy, environment, NPR radio, IRS,...and so many more. They are the sewers that drain all of our money away from us.
  7. Judith Shields I support returning taxes to the 1947 levels, adjusted for inflation, of course. Absolutely.
  8. Judith Shields Hey Lloyd, so if you think I'm not entitled to the money I paid in along with my employers, just who do you think is entitled to it? You are talking theft. I don't think you really mean to approve that. But in case you do, I want every freaking penny paid back that I've paid in. You want to stop Social Security? Go ahead. AFTER the government has a bake sale to pay back what they OWE to the people who have paid it in.
  9. Walter Zumbrennen Cut everything and fire 3/4 of all government workers...
  10. Mark W. Stevenson Get rid of Oblama he already cleared fort knox of gold,
201 comments
Andrew Mahone
Andrew Mahone

When the debt becomes a problem even remotely comparable to our other problems, Angela. Robert, the gross inequalities are directly attributable to a widening gap in salaries and the ability of the wealthy to pay far lower effective tax rates than the working class. In what way is national debt keeping individuals poor?

Angela Towry
Angela Towry

I am speaking to the person that made the statement that I posted under,Lloyd.Andrew would be who the question was directed at.

Debra Idlelies
Debra Idlelies

Our entire financial system is a shame, because the FED is owned by private individuals and we are beholden, as a society, to pay them interest. Do not believe this charade in Congress, as it is just another tool used to divide us and conquer the citizenry. If we quit letting the FED control our money and printed our own, debt free, we would not be in debt and we could pay for all that we need. It's so simple, most people will not every understand it. Here's a good book to read, if this piques your interest. http://www.amazon.com/Web-Debt-Shocking-Truth-System/dp/0983330859/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386632444&sr=1-1&keywords=web+of+debt%2C+brown

William Griffith
William Griffith

Increase taxes on incomes over 100k, pay SS tax on all income, eliminate corporate tax breaks.

Jacqueline Lynn
Jacqueline Lynn

Reduce Congress to part time status and pay. Reduce their perks and staffs! Put every American elected official on Social Security!

Marilyn Daley
Marilyn Daley

Get rid of the departments that do nothing but ruin our lives; education, energy, environment, NPR radio, IRS,...and so many more. They are the sewers that drain all of our money away from us.

Judith Shields
Judith Shields

I support returning taxes to the 1947 levels, adjusted for inflation, of course. Absolutely.

Judith Shields
Judith Shields

Hey Lloyd, so if you think I'm not entitled to the money I paid in along with my employers, just who do you think is entitled to it? You are talking theft. I don't think you really mean to approve that. But in case you do, I want every freaking penny paid back that I've paid in. You want to stop Social Security? Go ahead. AFTER the government has a bake sale to pay back what they OWE to the people who have paid it in.

Conrad Gosciminski
Conrad Gosciminski

Maury Grimm, we are on the same page and you are right in your conclusion. I and my fellow brothers and sisters served our nation and our citizens with our whole heart and souls to protect each and every legal citizen with hope of securing a better future for all. Unfortunately the politicos and power brokers have bastardize the meaning and sacrifice that we all made and that includes our families and loved ones. Unfortunately we have those who do not recognize or even care about the people who have given of themselves for the whole. You will see there are those who are living in a make believe world of their own that you will never be able to convince of the truth about what is happening. So you can not lower yourself to their level and try to convince them of your beliefs or ideas. For it is not possible to convince those are on the lower level of development since they are not equipped with the necessary abilities to understand where you are coming from.

Maury Grimm
Maury Grimm

The cuts in the military are being aimed at the personnel who serve and who have served. There has not been a cut to procurement--money that goes to contractors-- FWA has not been addressed either. For many retirees, if we take jobs to cover the cuts to our pensions as proposed, we are taking jobs from others that have no income at all. This meme of thieving from future generations, Lloyd Ritchie, has all ready happened, and it came on hard and fast with Right-wing policies.

Maury Grimm
Maury Grimm

I agree with Andrew, the debt is a small issue when compared to the gross inequalities we are seeing. How can we diminish the debt without raising GDP? How can you raise GDP when people are not working or working at non-living wages in largely the service industry?

Lloyd Ritchey
Lloyd Ritchey

"I do not support the proposed cuts in the military" Then what you support is the theft of future generations.

Lloyd Ritchey
Lloyd Ritchey

That's a tiny, tiny little sum that won't make a smidge of difference.

Lloyd Ritchey
Lloyd Ritchey

That undirected statement doesn't even make any sense, Kevin.

Johnny Ritchie
Johnny Ritchie

Lloyd Ritchey, SS is paid in by all. No one agreed to the 2.6 Trillion of IOU's the Politicians put in there for unfunded wars, drug programs, and bridges to no where, and tax breaks, subsidies, and loopholes for the super wealthy and Mr. Corporation. The super wealthy and Mr. Corporation is doing greaaaat. Way past time (30 years) to end their perks and pay for the Wars vs Debt/interest. For SS, remove the Cap, no more borrowing/spending from the trust, and pay back the IOU's in it.

Lloyd Ritchey
Lloyd Ritchey

Kevin, let us look at taxation rationally. (FTR, implying someone is hysterical isn't argumentation, it's ad hominem.) Assertion: Taxation is not theft. Analytic questions: What is theft? The involuntary appropriation of property. Is taxation voluntary? No. Does taxation involve the appropriation of property? Yes. Is that appropriation of property voluntary? No. Therefore, taxation is theft. Logically explain to me how taxation is voluntary and not coerced, and I think you'll have an argument. Otherwise, you're not even engaged in the act of reasoning.

Stephen Salkin
Stephen Salkin

Cutting the salaries of all elected offiicials by 50%

Angela Towry
Angela Towry

So what do we do about the debt? Let it continue to rise? When is it enough? How high do we let it go before it will ruin us?

Tom Brown
Tom Brown

don't spend more than you take in. deep, revolutionary, wild i know. Cut waste, and unnecessary jobs. Like the lady in space quest said, its a stupid job I know but its the only one I have on this lousy ship and i'm going to do it. Govt jobs and tax money are not here so you feel better about yourself. You could even pay those people to do something useful instead. I'm hoping to get a cush govt job but stop paying benefits and high salaries for unskilled workers. Make compensation of govt employees more closely reflect similar wages of people in the private sector of the same ability. None of these will get you elected and in fact make you a pariah. 2 nails in the coffin of American exceptionalism are something and something else....

Kenneth Dawson
Kenneth Dawson

How about we start with something we "should" all agree on. Like subsidies to big oil companies, just for starters?

Joshua Boone Wilcoxson
Joshua Boone Wilcoxson

Edmond , the permanent wealth class has steadily and increasingly been a myth for 3000 years

Virginia Hutson
Virginia Hutson

Stop using our money to buy weapons and artillery for the Muslims and all our other enemies. Maybe make them pay us back?

Ryan Rebecca Schneider
Ryan Rebecca Schneider

How about shutting down 5 useless Govt Departments, bring home all troops from overseas and shut down all foreign bases.

Edmond Seymore
Edmond Seymore

Sea Gale, some great ideas. I would make one suggestion: to continue the death tax for passed wealth over 5 million. I see no need for a permanent wealth class in a capitalist economic system.

Edmond Seymore
Edmond Seymore

First have four separate budgets: Federal Operations, Social Security, Health Care, and Subsidies for low income families. Each to be in balance each year. While allowing the federal Operational Budget to run a deficit which results in 5% interest payment each year.

Sea Gale
Sea Gale

Grassroots Ideas for Fixing America Politics and Laws: 1. Term limits - no more career politicians. 2 term presidents, 2 term senators, and 4 term congressmen 2. Remove big money from politics. Eliminate shadow donations via super PACs, individuals, lobbyists, etc. Require regular audits and post the results. Cap donations at $25,000 per donor. 3. Link elected officials' pay to success, shut it off when they shut down the government or fail to pass a budget. 4. Outlaw politicians from becoming lobbyists for a period of no less than 10 years, or twice their total length of public service, whichever is longer. 5. Require public apologies from politicians and pundits who publish false or contextually skewed information. Require chronic offenders to remove themselves from politics. 6. Make 100% of all lobbyist activity public. 7. Eliminate gerrymandering, period. Use redistricting to make districts more financially diverse and less politically pure. 8. Give the president line item veto authority. Budget, Taxes, and Govt Spending: 9. Congressional amendment requiring balanced budgets. Federal budget to be posted online for no less than 30 days before it takes effect. 10. Create a culture that rewards individuals and organizations who save federal funds, rather than linking success to high fiscal obligation rates. 11. Reform tax laws to implement a radically more simple system without loopholes, special political favors, or exceptions. A. No one in the poverty zone pays taxes. B. Everyone who earns $1M per year or less, down to the poverty level, pays 10% flat tax. C. Everyone who earns over $1M per year pays 15% flat tax. D. Establish a flat corporate tax of 11%, 1% lower than the rest of the world. Incentivize businesses to come to the US. E. Eliminate the death tax. 12. Implement a plan to reduce the federal workforce by 25% over 10 years, and reinvent the HR system so that it is easier to hire and fire. 13. Reduce the military dramatically: A. Cut the civilian workforce in half over 10 years. B. Eliminate one of the four Corps from the Army. C. Increase the special operating forces based on identified threats and feedback from the JCS. D. Significantly reduce our presence in Europe. E. Institute another BRAC, but let the military leadership make precision focused cuts based on strategic objectives rather than politicians pushing for their own agendas. Policies: 14. Require all bills to be posted online for public review for no less than two weeks before they're signed into law. Limit bills to no more than 50 pages. Outlaw riders. 15. Establish overarching strategic goals for energy and education at the national level, but let states and the free market develop and implement operational and tactical level plans. A. Set very high goals for STEM, add values-based education (honor, courage, self discipline, respect, integrity) and critical thinking to the curriculum. B. Make national energy independence a 40-year goal. Establish a fund that pays $50M to the individual or school that develops an engine that doubles mpg, but make the design copyright and patent-free. Publish the plans online. Repeat. 16. Hold white collar criminals accountable, even those who are too big to fail. 17. Create a culture of service. Compel every citizen to serve in some capacity for 2+ years. 18. Establish a public/private entity to reform healthcare. We could not sustain the exponential rise in costs before the ACA, and the same is true post-ACA. A. Focus on wellness, empower NPs and PAs, and hold people accountable for self-induced chronic illness based on lifestyle choices. B. Realign funds previously used to subsidize big business and foreign countries, which equates to roughly $6,000 per family on average. 19. Cease government subsidies to all big business.

Jane Logan
Jane Logan

Stop wasting money on countries which hate the USA and corporations destroying the USA.

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

This is pretty much a conservative laundry list. While most are at least worth investigating, #2 and #5 are non-starters as far as I'm concerned.

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

The same rate produces a disproportionately heavy tax on the poor and a light one on the wealthy, depending on what income is exempt. A progressive rate is what is needed to be fair. Sales (consumption) taxes can have the same result, too, though it can also be moderated to some extent by exempting basic items.

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

So, how much time is enough vacation time for the President (especially compared to the last 3 o 4)? How does assuming that people are guilty of a crime by applying for aid solve anything? What entire countries "burn our flag and want us [to] die"?

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

Sigh...and again the refrain that "our poor are too rich", all to make sure our rich aren't too poor.

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

Uh, Lloyd, come down from the heights of hysteria? Taxes are not theft, nor is retirement security "immediate self-gratification and largesse".

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

Well, by definition, "equal poverty for all but the elite" IS income inequality-so, no, he's not saying what you're trying to tell us he was.

Matthias Woodbury
Matthias Woodbury

These are Libertarian talking points and they don't seem very Independant to me. Yes many can agree on some of these but when you center an extreme point of view it makes moderates who will work together look like the bad guys.

Conrad Gosciminski
Conrad Gosciminski

I do not support the proposed cuts in the military or the present on going under calculated Cost of Living rates since they are fudged numbers that are inconsistent with the actual costs. Other than that a budget for the first time in years is a great start.

Lloyd Ritchey
Lloyd Ritchey

FTR, what you espouse is an extremely old and intellectually bankrupt manner of thinking. Proof: A Frenchman deconstructed the entire issue over 150 years ago, and yet contemporary Americans are so economically ignorant as to be fundamentally unaware of even the very basics. http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html#SECTION_G051

Lloyd Ritchey
Lloyd Ritchey

Then you're likely to see your goal come true with equal poverty for all but the elite. Also, that DEATH AND TRAGEDY is the only possible alternative you see to spending the earnings of the as of yet unborn shows a stunning lack of rational thinking and imagination.

Lloyd Ritchey
Lloyd Ritchey

Oh, just for starters, how about this: 1. Cut military spending by 50% and retrench the Department of "Defense" into an actual _defense_ role vis a vis the closure of overseas military bases. 2. Repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments, and revoke the Charter for the Federal Reserve. 3. Make all Federal entitlement programs voluntary. For example, you want to rely on Social Security? Good for you. You can choose to pay into it. No one else is obligated to pay for _your_ economic choices. 4. Eliminate all cabinet level Executive agencies. These are not elected representatives, they are appointees; this is a feature of the spoils system. They legislate via regulatory fiat and are _entirely_ unaccountable to the people.

Lloyd Ritchey
Lloyd Ritchey

^ LOL You might want to tell that to your children and grandchildren who will be paying for all of that. You also might to reassure them that though they never agreed to any such theft of their future earnings and economic opportunity that your immediate self-gratification and largesse is well worth their indentured servitude.