- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Since Sept. 11, 2001 and its aftermath, the U.S. government has been dependent on lending from foreign countries to fund its no-project-left-behind budget. Swollen guns-and-butter federal budgets in recent years have caused a financing problem of the first magnitude. Just in the last year the United States has spent $654 billion for defense and security, $476 billion on other discretionary spending, and an additional $700 billion on the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

In addition to that $1.83 trillion, there is also the $70 billion that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have received so far from their special $238 billion bailout fund, a $150 billion bailout for American International Group (AIG), and the initial $25 billion bailout for the American auto industry. The running tally is over $2 trillion so far, and growing.

Anyone who listened to President Barack Obama last week knows this isn’t even close to being the end. There is still the $819 billion economic stimulus package (exclusive of almost $350 billion in borrowing costs) that could grow larger once the Senate gets through with it this week. The Defense Department needs an additional $70 billion to recoup equipment lost during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, speaking of the wars, their cost for this year is yet unknown. All of this is in addition to the money America will dole out to retirees through Social Security, and the increasing numbers of unemployed who will add even more expenditures to Medicaid. Whatever that number is will be spent, regardless of what Congress or the president do, since these are entitlement programs.

Who is paying for all of this? Ultimately it will be the taxpayers. But so far this fiscal year, as of November 2008, China has loaned $682 billion (more than the record $637 billion the U.S. Treasury collected in the first quarter of 2008), Japan $577 billion, Britain $360 billion, Brazil $129 billion, and so on and so on. All told the figure stands at about $3.1 trillion (that’s $3,100,000,000,000) and growing rapidly.

Is anyone seriously wondering why 177 House Republicans and 11 House Democrats voted against the stimulus bill? Don’t be fooled. This is a staggering, awesome situation. The real disaster going forward is if China and others decide to loan less or can’t sustain their current level of lending. Or, heaven forbid, if they actually decided to start calling in the loans. America would be owned, collectively, by more than 50 countries. Of course that is highly unlikely and we have our own loans out to collect on, but we have certainly passed the tipping point. This nation owes more and pays more in entitlements than it can collect in several years.

Mr. Obama and Congress, it is past time for the federal government to find a rehab program that can alleviate its addiction to foreign money.


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