Unsustainable Policies and Practices with Deficits, Is America On A Burning Platform?
By: James Quinn
Market OracleOct 15, 2010
David Walker, the former Comptroller of the United States from 1998 until 2008, has been warning politicians, the media, and the American public for over a decade that we are off course and headed for disaster. In August 2007, before the financial system meltdown of 2008, Mr. Walker declared:
The US government is on a “burning platform” of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon. There are striking similarities between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government. The fiscal imbalance meant the US was on a path toward an explosion of debt. With the looming retirement of baby boomers, spiraling healthcare costs, plummeting savings rates and increasing reliance on foreign lenders, we face unprecedented fiscal risks. Current US policy on education, energy, the environment, immigration and Iraq also was on an unsustainable path. Our very prosperity is placing greater demands on our physical infrastructure. Billions of dollars will be needed to modernize everything from highways and airports to water and sewage systems. Three years have passed since Mr. Walker sounded the alarm and issued his dire warning. The National Debt in August 2007 was $8.9 trillion. Today it stands at $13.6 trillion, a 53% increase in just over 3 years. It took 205 years as a country to accumulate $4.7 trillion of debt. We’ve added $4.7 trillion in the last 38 months. It doesn’t appear that anyone in government heeded Mr. Walker’s warnings.