Social Question

Avangelo's avatar

How can the United States get out of debt?

Asked by Avangelo (253points) April 20th, 2012

Just a random question. If we’re in an seemingly impossible debt, how can we get out of it?

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72 Answers

Jaxk's avatar

Just a thought, balance the budget.

Blondesjon's avatar

If every man, woman, and child would only send me $1 I would tell the government exactly what they needed to do and this entire mess would be over.

interested in spending a dollar to save the economy? PM me.

bkcunningham's avatar

Do we finally have a budget? How long did that take, @Jaxk?

rebbel's avatar

The simple answer would be in my mind I can hear my mother say: “before having debts make sure you don’t make debts” to pay them off.

missingbite's avatar

Simple answer is yes we can but no we won’t.

Jaxk's avatar


That was a cheap shot :-) Apparently it will take until we have a new Senate.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m glad you know I was playing with you. ;) @Jaxk. I think you are correct though.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Since the value of the dollar is now based on debt and its sale, it can’t happen. At least, it can’t without the economy crashing, which I hope for each day.

Pandora's avatar

By paying their bills on time !!! If I ran my home the way Congress runs theirs, I would be out in the street.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m afraid that @incendiary_dan will get his wish before you get yours, @Avangelo. Not literally ‘afraid’, but ‘concerned’.

jerv's avatar

First, we have to get our political system to stop fighting each other long enough to even agree to talk to each other instead of just digging their heels in and refusing to even listen to opposing viewpoints, let alone possibly even think about maybe considering them. Of course, that would mean that the two parties we have now (and possibly the two-party system) would have to not only be discarded, but destroyed so thoroughly that future generations will be afraid to emulate them. Maybe this an be done by having the current parties reform themselves, but I doubt it.

After we get a government that is more concerned with making good policy and acting in the best interests of our nation and it’s citizens than in infighting, we could force employers to pay living wages and reform the healthcare system.

I know, that sounds like Socialist Liberal propaganda, but think of it like this; the more self-sufficient the average person is, the less government assistance is required, which in turn means smaller government (fewer people required to administrate said assistance) as well as lower taxes since the government will be spending less on benefits and administration. Some may call that “redistribution of wealth”, some may think that penalizes success, but I consider it to be an investment.

Of course, we could take that savings from reduced spending and, instead of lowering taxes, keep them the same and use the “extra” money for debts, but the likelihood of the first step happening are slim enough that I don’t see it happening. We are going to stay the course, crash, and burn because being “right” is more important than doing the right thing.

chyna's avatar

Re-elect Clinton. ;-) Source

Rock2's avatar

Spend less than we take in.

Jaxk's avatar


And/or elect a Republican Congress.

ETpro's avatar

We could always go back to what was at least reducing the debt as a percentage of GDP and producing budget surpluses in the Clinton years. The GOP loves to wring their hands and point fingers at tax and spend Democrats, so nothing gets done, but look at the Debt as a percent of GDP by president to see what’s really gone wrong. We’ve mortgaged the future to make a few people that were already at the top way richer than they already were.

Avangelo's avatar

I agree with @ETpro. We don’t have very much shit of our own. We can legalize a certain product, but shit.
I’m not sure if the president really makes that much of a difference as it used to. Seems being president in this era means having a hand up your ass as you stand behind a piece of cheap colorful cardboard.

jerv's avatar

@Avangelo Being CEO means more; you have a larger effect on policy than any mere politician could ever dream of.

ETpro's avatar

@jerv It would be a step.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s really simple. Grow the economy and support moderate inflation. This makes people wealthier and it also makes it cheaper to pay off the debt. We should be stimulating the economy and printing more money. Inflation is our friend. Moderate inflation is our friend.

I really don’t understand why people don’t get this. Everyone gets all freaked out by the debt and wants to do exactly the wrong thing: slow down the economy by cutting taxes and cutting spending. They call this balancing the budget.

Well, it won’t balance the budget for generations if you slow down the economy. You want to speed up the economy and the budge will balance itself.

filmfann's avatar

Tax every dollar earned after $500,000 at a higher tax rate, and close tax loopholes.
Remove taxes on retirement income for the first $100,000.
Lower the amount we give to the Pentagon by half.
Lower the cost of college education.
Cap the amount of interest banks can charge on credit cards at 15%.
Rewrite bankruptcy law to make it less attractive.
Increase national oil production.

The object is to increase tax income for the country, and decrease defaulting on loans.
Also, the military is over funded on war machines, and underfunded on military salaries.

gondwanalon's avatar

Fire up the printing presses through another QE and pay off all the bills with cheap dollars.

Jenniehowell's avatar

Change the banking system and legalize hemp – the amount of product that can be produced and sold which is made from hemp would be a great profit generator.

I’ll take a quote or two from the late Thomas Jefferson

“Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.

And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

May as well add a couple more presidents.

Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.
– George Washington, U.S. President quote on Hemp

We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption.
– John Adams, U.S. President quote on Hemp

Thammuz's avatar

Reduce spending on pointless foreign wars.

Start economic cooperation with other first world countries

Ensure less disabilities by instituting public healthcare

Raise taxes on the rich, lower them on the poor

Legalize harmless drugs and tax them like alcohol and tobacco

Legalize prostitution and tax it (Some prostitutes make 5000 to 10000 € a month here in italy, i assume there is some good money spinning in that field in the US as well)

In short: start acting more like the Netherlands.

ucme's avatar

Fleece Oprah & Gates’ bank accounts, job done.

Jaxk's avatar


You may have to add Jobs to that list. The government is not above a little necrophilia, so raping him is not out of the question.

ucme's avatar

@Jaxk Yeah but he’s been dead a while now, no fun in humping bones.

jerv's avatar

@ucme Some people pay extra for that. Rule 34 and all…

Qingu's avatar

Letting the Bush tax cuts and ending the Afghanistan war would pretty much do it.

If that’s not fast enough, let’s raise top marginal tax rates back up to what they were when Reagan was elected.

That was easy. And also a lot less vague and meaningless than “balance the budget.”

Qingu's avatar

Also worth noting: if Congress does nothing, the Bush tax cuts gets repealed. That’s $4 trillion over ten years.

If Congress does nothing, military spending cuts go into effect. I think that’s another half trillion, though I’m not 100%.

If both of these things happen, and all else remains equal, we would pay off our debt in just a few decades.

Jaxk's avatar


Why am I not surprised that you would think a balanced budget is a vague and meaningless thing.

Qingu's avatar

It’s vague and meaningless unless you specify what you are going to cut.

It’s like someone asking for a recipe for a birthday cake and you saying “it should have frosting!”

Jaxk's avatar


It only seems vague when you don’t have a budget to start with. Obama promised us: “We will go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way.” It didn’t sound vague when he said it. It only got vague after he was elected.

Qingu's avatar

Obama’s budget.

Took me literally 2 seconds to find on Google.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I’ve heard the same (in slightly different words) from Conservatives more than a few times over the decades, so if your argument is valid, then you just cut your own throat.

Now, if you are the type of person that can whip up a full, workable budget in twelve minutes then you can be the next POTUS, but I would wager that there are enough details and such that it might take you a little more time than you are willing to ever allow a Democrat.

Qingu's avatar

I think the more interesting question is, will @Jaxk admit that he is wrong about the supposed nonexistence of Obama’s budget.

I’m going to bet no.

Jaxk's avatar

There is no budget until it has passed congress. The Obama budget unfortunately couldn’t even garner a single Democratic vote, let alone a republican one. Rejected by the House 414 to 0. It’s not a budget merely an election gimmick. The Senate wouldn’t even vote on it. The Ryan budget at least passed the house. Again the Senate wouldn’t even vote. With nothing approved, the Obama budget is as worthless as Michelle’s grocery list.

We’ve been 3 years now without a budget. That includes when the democrats controlled both houses. It’s not that they can’t create a budget, it’s that they won’t. If that is the best defense you guys can muster, it’s pretty pathetic.

Qingu's avatar

Yeah that went about how I expected.

Anyone want to take bets on when Jaxk will modify his use of this talking point from “Obama has no budget” to “Congress won’t pass a budget”?

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Considering that the Republicans have been notorious for stalling things that, once they get their way on another issue, pass the Senate by margins of 96–4, I think it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Dems really don’t want to waste more time and effort on a futile task.
The Republicans have a budget they want, and nothing else will do, so it doesn’t matter, nor did it matter even when they had both houses; unless the Republicans get 150% of what they want, the best that can be hoped for is inaction.

Jaxk's avatar


Of course it went the way you expected because it’s information you already knew. You just like to nibble around the edges of reality to see if you can fool anyone.

Jaxk's avatar


The Senate is sitting on 290 bills that have passed the house. They table these bills without a vote and even House Democrats are getting frustrated. You can’t keep saying the Republicans won’t work with you unless you at least to up a counter proposal. The Senate is doing nothing and that is at the direction of Harry Reid.

And of course let’s not forget that a budget resolution can not be filibustered. Reconciliation was developed for this exact purpose, so that budgets wouldn’t be delayed. Your reading way too much Nancy Pelosi.

Qingu's avatar

I love how Republicans completely refuse to compromise for three years and do everything they can to obstruct Congress from passing bills… and then blame Democrats for not passing bills.

Is there some sort of official playbook here? Using a problem that you create as a weapon to attack the other side? Sort of like how Republicans explode our debt during the 2000’s and then spend 2008–2012 bitching constantly about how bad our debt it? Or how Republicans completely mismanage government agencies and then say “look at how dysfunctional government is—that’s why we need smaller government?”

What I want to know, @Jaxk, is the extent to which you and people like you are deliberately lying. The question has always fascinated me. Do conservatives know how dishonest they’re being? Or have they succeeded in deluding themselves? Or is it both at the same time?

wundayatta's avatar

The interesting question is why would anyone expect anything any different if the Morman is elected. The American People don’t seem to want government to do anything. They want government to do as little as possible and and as soon as they do anything, they rebalance things in the next Congressional election so that agreement on anything is impossible.

The Morman would have two years to do anything, at most, and then it’ll be back to gridlock and executive orders as the only way to do things. Of course, executive orders are pretty powerful things. Bush certainly destroyed a lot with them.

missingbite's avatar

@wundayatta That’s pretty insulting to refer to Romney as “the Morman.” Especially since you spelled it incorrectly. I doubt you would think it was ok if Obama was referred to as something other than his name or President. How about we now refer to President Obama as “the black?”

I’m sure this will be moderated so I’ll say right now that my example was an example only, not the way I see President Obama.

wundayatta's avatar

I think we are still allowed to insult people. And I don’t know why an alternative spelling makes it more insulting, but I’ll take it. What if I called him The Merman?

How about The Mitt? The Mittster? The Mittsteroony? The More Man? More for him, that is.

PS. Race is not something one can control. One’s superstitions are something one can control.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Funny. The sad part is that the Republicans currently in Congress make her seem reasonable by comparison. She isn’t, of course, but when you view things in a relative sense, it’s actually kind of depressing.

Jaxk's avatar


I’m always amazed by your world view. What’s most amazing is that anyone that doesn’t live in the same fantasy land that you do, must be lying or deceptive in some manner. Bush created way more debt than he should have. No question about that. But you seem to have no scope, no concept of proportion. Bush had an average deficit of $612 billion/yr for the 8 years in office. Obama has averaged $1.536 trillion/yr. Can you not see a difference in those numbers? Are you totally incapable of understanding why one would be worse than the other. And of course it would seem that if government is dysfunctional, you would rather we ignore that. I have to admit that I find it amusing that Obama made a speech that businesses would not be allowed to use taxpayers money to throw lavish parties in Las Vegas and then the lavish party was thrown by his own agency in, none other than, Las Vegas. That must burn his ass. And it should. Despite your fantasy land view, the person in charge takes the heat when things go wrong. Blaming everyone but yourself is a weak argument at best.

Climb out of the rabbit hole and maybe your worldview will become more realistic.

Jaxk's avatar


Reasonable is in the eye of the beholder.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Very true, but when the only choices you have are unreasonable or completely, fanatically, hostage-taking unreasonable, I will take merely unreasonable every time. And it’s gotten worse over the years, mostly on the Conservative side.

Whatever happened to the days when Conservatives were merely people who wanted some fiscal responsibility, smaller government, and (most importantly) cared more about our nation and it’s citizens than their own agenda or personal gain? I know Democrats/Liberals are not innocent either, but they are far less egregious, and also closer to their roots than the current-day GOP who only seem to care about a small percentage of citizens and are willing to sell or future for short-term gains (unlike their predecessors who would sacrifice people for the good of the Republic).

We cannot survive like this for long. Something is going to give, whether it be us becoming an impoverished police state, a dystopian Corporate state, or just having a revolution, I don’t see the US surviving much longer unless we can do something about the problems that have been caused/exacerbated by the policies that Republicans have either pushed for or are seeking to enact.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Bush damned near burned the ship of state to the waterline, and all you can concentrate on is how much those who inherited the mess are spending to rebuild it and make it seaworthy once more. You want us to usher in a bunch who plan to double down on Bush’s policies. Instead of playing with matches, they will patrol the engine rooms with flame throwers. No thanks.

Jaxk's avatar


At least you’ve gotten new material. You’ve moved on from the Car in the Ditch to a ship. Not overly creative but I have to give you some points for that. Just not many.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, mandatory spending increases during a recession. Tax revenue drops precipitously during a recession. Obama also continued to fund those wars that Bush started and completely failed to manage. Obama also temporarily renewed the budget-busting Bush tax cuts because—we both agree here—it’s dangerous to raise taxes during a depressed economy.

But you know this. Some part of you does, at least.

Jaxk's avatar


I’m not sure what your point is in all that. Do revenues drop during a recession, of course. The war in Iraq is over, it would be nice to see some budget reduction from that. And if we both agree that it’s dangerous to raise taxes during a recession, why all the clamoring to raise taxes?

What is your point and what do you think I’m hiding?

Qingu's avatar

There was no reason to go into debt during the Bush years. The economy was stable, and we went from budget surpluses to a tremendous deficit. This was all Republicans, as you know.

Obama inherited this mess. He can’t raise revenue because that would screw up the economy. He can’t cut spending because that would screw up the economy (and completely ruin the lives of millions of people already left destitute by the financial crisis). He did end the war in Iraq, and is in the process of ending Afghanistan, but he came into office with the Taliban winning in Afghanistan and it’s still a mess.

Judging from your response, you appear to know all this. So why do you expect anyone to believe you’re being sincere when you criticize Obama over the debt?

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk The clamor to raise taxes that you claim is largely targeted at those who both pay fairly little (at least a lower percentage than the middle class), and who reaped >90% of the benefits of what prosperity we have had. The tax cuts were originally designed to give all Americans more discretionary income to increase consumer spending and, due to the increased demand, create more jobs. Instead, we have higher unemployment, stagnant income for most, and increased mandatory expenses as a result.

Since raising taxes is often political suicide, no politician wants to do so if there are other choices, but until some of that economic growth trickles down (which the Republicans wholeheartedly oppose) there really isn’t much choice. Failed policy is bad policy; the allegedly temporary tax cut has failed, but raising taxes on the lower income brackets would make things worse. Why not go back to 20% on long-term capital gains? It’s still lower than the rate on earned income, only affects a small percentage of people, though no worse than they were affected before the cuts when most of them made their millions/billions, and would help offset the increase in mandatory spending.

The alternative is for the rich to do what they were supposed to do and create enough jobs to get people off the government teat, but that would require current workers earning enough to demand enough goods/services to justify the increased workforce, and if that hasn’t happened in the last decade, it won’t.

Jaxk's avatar


I can’t help but wonder where you were during 2001. The economy was not stable. I don’t know if you recall the recession of 2001 or the 9/11 attack but they reeked havoc on our economy. The Dow dropped 4,000 points and the Nasdaq dropped from 5048 to 1139. It never has recovered. We had to bailout the Airline industry and unemployment was on the rise. Tax revenue dropped from about 2.1 trillion to 1.8 trillion. You can assign whatever you want to our recovery but to imply the economy was stable is simply erroneous. You may not agree with what Bush did but the economy recovered.

Obama’s debt can not be explained by merely pointing to a reduction in revenues. It’s much bigger than that. And giving Obama credit for the end of the Iraq war is laughable.

Jaxk's avatar


The tax cuts did thier job. The economy recovered from the 2000 recession. The unemployment we are seeing now is the result of the housing crash.

I would like to see you backup that claim that the tax hikes are targeted at those paying less (percentage wise) than those in the middle class. Don’t try to use those isolated individuals for examples. The top 1% pay an effective rate of 24%. Higher than any other group. Raising thier taxes even higher will not put 1 penny in your pocket. There are lots of other choices if you’re not fixated on some kind of revenge theory.

Qingu's avatar

The economy in 2001 was not suffering from a global financial crisis, we were not at the zero-bound, we were not in a liquidity trap. Unemployment was rising, sure, but this alone does not justify $4 trillion worth of tax cuts.

And Bush wanted to cut taxes when he got elected. He campaigned on it. He would have cut taxes if the economy was fine. He wanted to make the tax cuts permanent. It’s insane to suggest that the Bush tax cuts were merely a technocratic response to the dot-com bubble collapsing and 9/11.

What I’m hearing from you is that it’s fine to deficit-spend like mad, start two unpaid-for wars, and create huge tax cuts if the economy is in bad shape… but if the economy is in the worst shape since the Great Depression—OMG DEBT OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST.

And I continue to find it amazing that you feel so strongly that the Bush economy recovered well from recession, but have done nothing but criticize Obama’s economic recovery from an even worse recession. You say one thing without implying the other. Again, it’s arguments like this that make me wonder about your mental state. Do you realize that the stuff you are writing is utterly dishonest or do you block that part of your brain when you post about politics on Fluther?

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I an aware that raising taxes on the rich won’t put more money in my pocket, but it would help Uncle Sam. Moreover, we were just fine with the taxes on capital gains where they were. When it comes to effective tax rate, I seem to recall you and I actually agreeing a while back that we need more tax brackets, and possibly progressive taxation on unearned income. I know that my parents who were in the low six-figure brackets paid more than 24%, as did others I know in that range, though I am not sure if they were anomalies. The figures I’ve seen over the years indicate that that is normal though. I’ll have to check again with more current figures.

I already pointed out one alternative.

Jaxk's avatar


It may be time to end this discussion with you. It sounds like you’re about to have a heart attack. Or maybe a breakdown. I’m not sure which but it’s obvious that rational discussion is no longer possible.

Jaxk's avatar


The effective rate is not the top tax rate but rather the total tax divied by AGI. Remember that the effective rate is the average of all returns in that income range so some will be higher and some will be lower. The benefit from the Buffet rule is really minimal, about $4.7 billion. Lost in the rounding when talking about a $1.2 Trillion deficit.

A quick excercise for you. If you work for the government in California for 30 years, you will recieve a retirement of $60,000/yr for the rest of your life. If you work for 40 yrs it will be $82,000. So if I want to retire with a similar slary but I don’t work for the government, how much do I have to save to do that. Savings can be 401Ks or investment in my business or any variety of means. Remember that whatever you save will be taxed when you try to retire. A business will take capital gains (currently 15%) a 401K will take regular income (35% fed, 10% state). How much do I have to save just to retire at the same level as the government guy working in the motor pool? And am I considered rich if I can do it?

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I am aware.

As for retiring, if you do the math, the only ways to retire self-sufficiently are to either have a six-figure income or to start saving/investing when you are in your late teens. I’ve done the numbers and seen enough with my own eyes to corroborate that many people just plain cannot retire without some form of outside assistance no matter how fiscally responsible they are. Some rely on Social Security, some on pension plans, some on family, but the only ones I know that retired self-sufficiently were at least well-off (as in “at least double the median income”) during their working years.

So the short answer is that yes, if you can retire even comfortably, you must either be rich, have started before you you were of legal drinking age (unlikely), or had some significant help (like living with your parents until you were 35), and also not have had any major financial hardships that basically set you back to square one. Retirement is a luxury.

Jaxk's avatar


Very pessimistic attitude. Actually if you put $100/month into a retirement plan in 30 years you would have $250K. If you put $100/mo into savings for 40 years it would be $730K. That is based on the average annual return on the Dow over the past 25 years (10.5%). Frankly that doesn’t seem to oppressive. Add to that any capital returns you may have, say a house that you’ve bought, and the package could easily be over a million. Now if you have a 401K with company matching funds the returns could be double.

And that’s only $100/mo. I’m not saying everyone could do this but the majority of us could. In fact with a reasonable income you could do much better than the $100.

Now the down side is that even $1,000,000 is not going to match the $60K you’d get from government work unless you can find a 5% safe income producing investment. Difficult today. And since the taxes will total about 50% on a 401K, your screwed. You need to double the savings and a better house. All I’m asking is that when you go after the rich, don’t screw the poor schlep that tried to do it right. Because he’s not rich.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Then my 401k and the one I had at my last job (both with company matching) were/are vastly underperforming :p

That doesn’t stop me from shoving 5% of my gross income (maxing out my company match, resulting in a net contribution of $100–150/month) into it anyways, but unless something changes in the numbers soon, I see only a small fraction of that amount being around when the time comes. The stock market over the last few years has returned less and it appears that it is in the downward portion of a cycle. Regular savings accounts and CDs have interest rates a small fraction of what they were; low enough that compound interest won’t work the magic that it used to.

I do have a slight advantage in that I have spent the last 14 years in states with no income tax though; maybe you should consider moving. Home prices are reasonable here; the median price for a 2-bedroom is only $294k. Come on over, we could be neighbors! Of course, the combined state/county sales tax of 9.5% makes up for that and makes me sometimes wish I had stayed in NH where it was also zero… but I digress.

One misconception I wish to clear up though. I really have no problem with people being rich either. It’s partly a matter of not having a rising tide lift all boats (compare the income growths of various levels) and partly the fact that some seem to think that the solution to our economic problems is to amplify them.

Trust me, I know that what some people consider “rich” really isn’t. Some consider my folks rich because they earned five times what my wife and I did and spent a couple of weeks a year in Europe. Sounds like something only rich people do, but they drove cars over a decade old, took a beating on their stock portfolio a few years ago, and also had to deal with some major home-related expenses (septic systems are not cheap!). That is why I feel that some people considering $250k/yr “rich” is a little… unwarranted (I think that is the word I am looking for).

When I look at the economic growth and record profits and incomes, then compare them to wage stagnation (despite increased productivity per worker), unemployment, and rising poverty levels though, that is where I get a little touchy.

Now, taxes are kind of a stupid way to try and fix things. I still think the more sensible way would be to have more Americans have more disposable income to do some combination of spending and investing (yes, people in the lower 90% invest too) and to have more Americans able to live self-sufficiently instead of either at taxpayer expense or not living at all. More money circulating amongst more people means a higher standard of living for all instead of a few, more consumer spending (and thus, indirectly, higher employment due to demand), and leads to a more robust and more sustainable economy. That coupled with the reduced government spending while, at the same time, having many of the people that used to get government money now paying taxes will turn an expense into a revenue stream… increased revenue plus reduced overhead sounds like a win to me!

Thing is, that won’t happen. There is too much pressure to not only maintain the status quo, but to give the inequality issues we have a cocktail of steroids and PCP.

filmfann's avatar

Get a room, you two.

Jaxk's avatar


We are in agreement on what needs to happen we just disagree on how to make it happen. Right now there is a shit storm of changes on the horizon. Healthcare, taxes, regulation, gas prices, etc. Businesses are unclear about how this will afect them. No one is willing to make any long term investment (hiring permanent employees is a long term investment) until they can plan on the future. The jobs we are creating right now are part-time or temporary jobs. It’s just not clear if we are dropping back into recession or whether we’re coming out of it. The bush tax cuts are expiring the end of this year. Even the CBO estimates that will throw us back into recession. No one is going to hire a full time employee staring recession in the face unless they have to. So they use over-time, or part time or temporary help to get the work done. How much will healthcare cost? no one knows. So if you hire temps, you won’t have to deal with it. The economy is fragile and it won’t take much to drive us back into recession. We need some stability before business will hire. We have enough demand that we should be pulling out of the recession, but unless we can plan on what next year will bring, we’ll continue to limp along as we are.

The stock market has recovered most of the losses from 2009. It won’t do much more until we see a future. Way too much money is sitting on the sidelines waiting for this double-dip fear to subside. The wealth gap you all continue to harp on is a result of the housing bust. Middle America lost half their wealth when their homes dropped in value. No body stole it, they lost it (myself included). They will start getting it back once the housing market begins to recover. More taxes, more government spending and more government employees aren’t going to fix this. Let the economy stabilize before creating more uncertainty. There are trillions sitting overseas that could be brought back to the US to help our economy. The double taxation prohibits companies from doing so. I don’t care if they use it to buy back thier stock, pay dividends or just let it sit in the bank, at least it would be working for our economy instead of overseas. Hell let them bring it back, there is no downside. We should be doing everything possible to inject cash into our economy from the private sector. There is enough to make a difference but we’ve got to stop this incessant tinkering if we want to recover.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk If I had my way, we wouldn’t have the added mandatory government spending and thus could get by with lower taxes (at least more most people and businesses) and fewer government employees. The catches?

One would be that if you earned any money in the US, including investing in a company that draws a profit here, you pay taxes. Worried about Facebook execs ducking US taxes by moving overseas? Facebook operates in the US, so unless we block FB at the US border, there will be taxes. That is a simplistic explanation of what I’d like to see; I don’t feel like typing pages about just that part of my evil plan.

Another would be revamping compensation packages for all workers. I believe that wages should at least keep pace with inflation, and that wage increases should be split at least somewhat equitably. I’m not saying that if my boss’ income doubles that mine should also double, but I would like at least enough of a raise to cover the rise in gas prices; I used to work an hour a day just to recoup the cost of my daily commute, and now it’s almost ninety minutes. And stop cutting corners on insurance and passing the cost of healthcare on to the government and us taxpayers.

Speaking of insurance and healthcare, there is no reason our costs should be by far the highest in the world yet far from the best. In a true free market, our healthcare industry would be eaten alive by competitors that supply better care for far less. And the high costs also increase government spending and taxes.

Basically, most of my ideas for reducing debt are to curb our excesses instead of considering our flaws to be strengths. I am not a Socialist, as I believe in just compensation; some people deserve to be filthy rich. However, I feel we have tried so hard to distance ourselves from Socialism that we created a system that is even worse, even more corrupt, and far less sustainable. Right now, we are at the point where we either evolve or perish, and I don’t like the latter option. Sadly, there are many who feel that change is worse than death, and they are dragging you and I down with them. And until we can ditch the dead weight, the struggle between the sensible and the silly will preclude the possibility of stability, and therefore make recovery nearly impossible.

What we really need is less partisan bickering, less extremism, and more common sense. Too bad we don’t have any real Republicans in this next election.

Strauss's avatar

As long as the Treasury is in the business of selling bonds we will never be completely out of debt. That is the red herring that is thrown into the conversation. According to this website, China holds about $1.2 trillion in treasury bills, notes and bonds, or about 8% of publicly held US debt.

Other large foreign holders of U.S. debt include Japan, which owns $912 billion; the United Kingdom, which owns $347 billion; Brazil, which holds $211 billion; Taiwan, which holds $153 billion; and Hong Kong, which owns $122 billion.

ETpro's avatar

@Yetanotheruser What would you have us do when WWIII breaks out. Not retaliate till we can mine enough gold to back increased spending? I will consider all suggestions to abandon our fiat currency as half-baked nonsense till somebody explains to me how we keep our currency flexible and inflatable in anything approaching a bimetalism scheme.

Rops's avatar

They can come out of debt by reducing the imports and increasing the exports. They should spend less on foreign products and consume more of their own country made products to boost their economy. And I think increasing taxes of the super rich people can also help to reduce debt to some extent.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Sell assets.

Strauss's avatar

The US does not have to eliminate all debt. Much of the debt is Treasury bonds of one sort or another.

However, we can eliminate unnecessary debt by educating taxpayers that taxes are the admission fee to prosperity.

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