The recent death of Ross Perot should remind us of his commitment to addressing the national debt. While he had a somewhat zany and unconventional campaign, Perot made the federal debt a centerpiece of his 1992 presidential run. Who can forget the blown up charts he often utilized to remind us of our impending budget nightmare?
It’s quite funny and equally sad how much the debt was talked about in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was a national crisis when I was growing up. Back then it was around $2 to $3 trillion. Today that number is an absurd $22+ trillion. But in so many ways, the debt has morphed into the crazy aunt we keep hidden in the basement. When is the last time somebody has thrown an epic temper tantrum on social media over the debt? Believe me, I wish they would, but I have yet to see it. People get far more outraged over a comment from a celebrity about America or if an executive in business says something positive about President Donald Trump.
Here in North Carolina, the big debate right now is whether to expand Medicaid. Of course, this is the signature goal of Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper. I’m very sympathetic to the crippling cost of healthcare given I have experienced the high costs firsthand from treatment and procedures myself. That being said, it’s not rational to merely demand Medicaid expansion without a serious discussion on the debt and entitlement reform. I wrote an op-ed on this topic in the News & Observer this year. Yes, the primary problem rests with our federal government and our larger debt culture, but it doesn’t mean states can’t lead or have a say in this debate. We all (particularly future Americans) will bear the cost of all of this unsustainable spending.
Fiscal conservatives, even if they are for Medicaid expansion, need to seriously grapple with the cost for all Americans.
In 2016, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget noted:
Finally, CBO estimates that technical changes will raise ten-year deficits by about $365 billion, primarily due to increasing outlays. Most of the increased spending – $340 billion – comes from higher-than-expected enrollment in Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act and an expanded population of veterans who are eligible for veterans’ disability benefits.
There is no magic pot of money that has been appropriated for expansion. If a state opts out they simply do not add additional dollars to our federal deficits and immoral debt. While the federal government and our federal politicians don’t have the courage to act it doesn’t follow that states should merely encourage the spending binge. If the problem in Washington is too much spending then why is adding to it a viable policy solution?
North Carolina should be an example of fiscal responsibility, not just another burden. The Left likes to claim budgets are moral documents. I’d agree. Our deficits and debt are certainly a top moral crisis facing this nation. Which is why the insane spending has to be halted somewhere. One of the biggest myths out there in the public square today is that there aren’t solutions unless we spend more than the trillions we already do. That has to end for anything to change.