The Washington Post‘s resident debt-denier E.J. Dionne, whose two-letter name makes him sound smarter than he really is, recently took to the pages of WaPo, as it is called in “cool” circles, to show that America isn’t really broke. Peter Tucci, writing for The Daily Caller, or TheDC, as we “cool” people like to call it, proves that Mr. Dionne has his entire head up his ass:
The other day, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne wrote a column in which he posed the question, “What if we’re not broke?” Dionne concluded that we’re not actually broke and that “a phony metaphor [the idea that we’re broke] is being used to hijack the nation’s political conversation and skew public policies to benefit better-off Americans and hurt most others.”
Dionne might as well have written a column posing the question, “What if the moon landings never really happened?” or “What if LBJ was behind JFK’s assassination?” because, as it turns out, we’re broke by any conventional meaning of the term “broke.”
This year the federal government will collect $2.17 trillion and spend $3.82 trillion. In other words, the federal government is spending 76% more than it’s taking it. Last year the federal government spent 49% more than it took in. Our national debt is fast approaching 100% of our GDP, and our unfunded and underfunded liabilities — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — now total more than $66 trillion. If the federal government were a company, it would have a negative net worth of $45 trillion.
State governments are also in trouble. Collectively, the states have amassed $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and it’s looking increasingly likely that several states — including Illinois and California — will need to be bailed out by our broke federal government.
If I spent well more than I made, year after year, you’d say I was “broke,” even though I could probably pay off my debts somehow — either by taking a second job, robbing my neighbors, or winning the lottery. Likewise, federal and state governments can theoretically avoid going bankrupt — either by dramatically raising taxes, dramatically cutting spending, or both. But to say that we’re not broke is to strip the word “broke” of any real meaning.