The Debt Guilt Trip and Other Economic Fallacies

piggy-bank“Congressman Reed believes that tough choices need to be made now to reign in the federal government’s excessive spending.  We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars. We cannot leave them a legacy of debt and the potential of a national bankruptcy.from Rep. Reed’s website.

That phrase, or similar ones about leaving the debt to our children and their children has been used by the Republican Party, and the Tea Party to make us feel guilty–guilty of trying to raise our standards, guilty of making sure all have health insurance, guilty of…you name it.

The fallacy of their guilt trip is…except for one brief two year exception, the United States has been in debt every year from 1776 to the present. Between 1835 and 1837, when the Andrew Jackson  ‘retired’ the debt,  a budget surplus was maintained. Then the economy collapsed and a deep depression sweep over the country and the government. We have been in debt ever since.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio: “Every family in America has to balance their budget. Washington should, too.”

Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.: “You know, every family in America understands the necessity of a balanced budget.”

Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.: “This is how every family tries to live in good times and in bad. Your government should do the same.”

Comparing Individual’s (and families’) debt and the Federal Government’s debt is another favorite activity of the Republican Party. This comparison is another economic fallacy. Many families run in a deficit. Do you have a mortgage? Do you use a credit card? Do you finance your car? Do you take out College Loans? If the answer is “Yes” then you do not have a balance budget.

The Republican leaders have tried to have us believe that President Obama’s lack of a balance budget is sign of doom for our economy. You might be surprised to know that since 1969 we have had only 5 years with a balance budget. Four of them were President Clinton’s last four budgets.

I’ll admit that I don’t know a lot about economics. Most of us don’t. I do understand that these are far from being the best of times. Something needs to be done, but not scaring us with untruths. We need to realize that sometimes people we should trust, are untrustworthy. They are using our lack of economic worldliness to have us believe that only they can save us. They are not representing us. They are using us.

About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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9 Responses to The Debt Guilt Trip and Other Economic Fallacies

  1. Anne says:

    Did it really say “reign in”? Because it’s “rein in,” which just goes to show how badly these guys need to reinstate school funding. That’s just embarrassing.


  2. pystew says:

    I just cut and pasted that quote from Rep. Reed’s website.


  3. Anne says:

    Good lord.


  4. whungerford says:

    There are many differences between a family and the Federal Government. Here are a few:
    1. The Federal government is immortal: it can roll over debt. Unlike a home mortgage, there is no due date.
    2. The Federal government has the power to tax; no family has that.
    3. Farm families fear debt due to the danger of foreclosure with the bank taking the farm. The Federal government isn’t subject to foreclosure.
    4. Family debt is a private matter. When the Federal Government takes on debt when times are bad or reduces debt when times are good, it has a profound beneficial effect on the national economy.

    The idea that the debt is a burden to our children is nonsense: today’s debt is owed to persons who are alive today, not to those long dead. Tomorrow the debt will be owed to those who are alive then. If there is a threat to children, it is the threat that they may not get a good education or find a good job due to widespread unemployment.


  5. Mark says:

    The republicans would like to “reign” in 2014. Let’s keep up the campaign to stop it!


  6. Kelle says:

    Thanks , I have just been searching for information approximately this subject for ages and yours is the best I have came upon till now


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