By DANIEL GARDNER
Imagine youâ€™re walking down a road and you see a can. What do you do? Do you kick it down the road? If not, what do you do with the can?
I suppose we could ask those in Washington or the media elite since theyâ€™re the ones always talking about kicking some can down some road. I donâ€™t even know whatâ€™s in the can! And, why are we kicking it anyway? Who does the can belong to? Where did the can come from? Did the can just fall from the sky like we were living in some Cohen Brothers movie?
How big is this can? What road are we on? How far can we kick the can? Is the can a noun or a verb? I mean, when we say somebody is kicking the â€ścan,â€ť is he/she kicking a physical thing or kicking the ability to do something as in â€śYes we can?â€ť Obviously, we havenâ€™t so far.
Yes this is absurd, but so is all the discussion in Washington and the mainstream media. The bottom line is we the people have been getting discounted government and benefits for years without having to pay for it. Now, everyone loves discounts. Donâ€™t you just love those end-of-year sales? Early-bird specials? Senior discounts? OK, maybe not the senior discounts if youâ€™re merely prematurely gray.
Consider federal spending:
2008: $2,983 trillion
2009: $3,518 trillion (Whoa! What happened?)
2010: $3,456 trillion
2011: $3,599 trillion
2012: $3,538 trillion
Compare these numbers with federal receipts, i.e. tax dollars:
2008: $2,524 trillion
2009: $2,105 trillion (Remember the recession?)
2010: $2,163 trillion
2011: $2,302 trillion
2012: $2,449 trillion
So, even though Washington was taking in fewer dollars, Washington decided to spend hundreds of billions of dollars more, and weâ€™re still taking in fewer dollars than we took in 2008. Who came up with this plan? Is this what kicking the can down the road means? Well then, stop it!
Ironically, all the fuss over the media-inspired â€śfiscal cliffâ€ť is a bunch of hoopla in the real world. They keep talking about reducing the deficit and debt, but every single one of their proposals actually increases spending/deficits/debt. Both parties!
What if we the people actually had to pay for all this government? To balance one yearâ€™s budget (we havenâ€™t had a budget since Obama took office) each American would have to pay about $3,500 more in taxes every year just to cover the annual overspending in Washington. A family of four would have to pay $14,000 on top of what they paid last year in taxes, and that would merely cover costs for one year. We wouldnâ€™t be reducing the $16 trillion dollar debt one penny. We wouldnâ€™t even cover the interest on the debt.
When faced with these daunting numbers and realizing the only solution is a combination of making all of the people pay higher taxes while simultaneously cutting government services and benefits, Washington has always kicked the can down the road.
Whatâ€™s in the can? The bill for us living well beyond our means. And, somebodyâ€™s going to have to pay for it down the road â€¦ but not right now.
Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville. Contact him at Daniel@DanLGardner.com.