As a rule, Congress will not address a difficult problem until it becomes a crisis. Former GAO Head David Walker resigned because Congress would not address what he calls “unfunded liabilities” or the “fiscal gap,” which is the growing difference between the nation’s implicit debt and its expected revenues. The sum seems destined to bring the United States to its knees. Earlier this year, the federal government modestly estimated it to be about $58 trillion (estimates have been as high as $72 trillion), and the total is growing sharply. To give you an idea of how big that number is, each American household’s equal share of that would be over $400,000–over $175,000 per person (in addition to the taxes they are already expected to pay). This is especially frightening because we know that the net household worth of the United States is $56 trillion and falling. It would appear that the United States is worth less than it owes, and is therefore technically bankrupt. If the federal government seized the assets of every single American citizen today, it still would not be financially capable of keeping its promises.
When Congress wouldn’t listen to him about this issue, David Walker decided to take his message to the employers of the legislative body, the American people. Despite help from billionaire Peter G. Peterson, Walker and his message are still widely ignored.
Walker’s assertion is this: America will undergo a severe and prolonged (if not permanent) economic depression if it does not change its spending practices now. The claim is based on economic laws and reality, and cannot be denied. Walker is right.
As Americans, we are left with a choice between two emotions: we can get angry about our economic situation now (and elect people that will start spending and promising responsibly), or we can be sad about it later, at which point we will be very poor and helplessly incapable of fixing the problem. The rulers of our nation, along with our media, have already chosen the latter option, by focusing attention on gay marriage, drug use, and abortion while the world’s greatest economy keels over, but it is not yet too late to alter their choice. If Americans are able to replace rulers with leaders, and base their votes on sound policies (and this is a HUGE if), they can still avoid economic collapse, but they must act now with their ballots, by electing responsible candidates like William “B.J.” Lawson of North Carolina’s Fourth District.