Being in the intelligence program and ROTC, I have become conditioned to thinking about threats to our national security in specific ways.
However, the most grievous threat to American national security is the American people themselves. In the words of comic character Pogo the Possum, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
So why are the American people a threat to national security? The answer is the national deficit.
Americans seem to believe that they are entitled to everlasting prosperity and increasingly growing government benefits (entitlement programs).
However, the American people equally feel that they don’t have the responsibility to pay for these costly programs.
The American people as a whole are self-absorbed with their own well-being, ill conceited of what their actions will bring about. But if the American people are the most significant threat to their own national security, then Congress would be the second most significant threat.
Here are some numbers that reflect poor fiscal policy on behalf of Congress: America currently borrows 42 cents of every dollar it spends. Of that dollar, 68 cents go toward entitlement programs, and at the current rate, entitlement programs will consume the entire U.S. budget by 2049.
The three largest programs contained within entitlement programs that are causing the majority of the problem are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The American people have come to take these programs as a God
given right of every U.S. citizen.
For example, the most effective method to fixing the current Social Security system is to increase the retirement age, as life expectancy today is far higher than it was when social security was enacted in 1935.
However, this solution would not fare well with constituents, most of whom are reliant on entitlement programs. Due to this heavy constituency reliance on entitlement programs, any politician who pushes for reform of entitlement programs would commit political suicide, and they would never be re-elected.
Furthermore, politicians attract votes based on a platform to protect entitlement spending from budget cuts, leaving defense as the only major option to cut.
According to Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), “Basically, Congress wants to spend money, because it’s easier to get votes if you spend money than it is if you don’t spend money.”
This is the reason that no politician wants to change the current funding for these entitlement programs. It’s too risky.
However, a possible solution for Congress to avoid this political suicide would be to establish a federal body whose recommendations are subject to an up-or-down vote in Congress. This would represent a major political breakthrough. So rather than politicians taking the blame individually, they can all follow a panel and exert blame externally.
The means to cure the deficit is in no way a fiscal challenge, but rather a political one. Congress can fix the deficit crisis today if its members wanted to. It’s just a matter of Americans voting fiscally minded politicians into office.
I truly believe that the man (or woman) of the century will not be the one who comes up with a source of alternative energy, but rather the one who finds the solution to our national deficit. If we can’t solve the deficit crisis, should America continue to deficit spend and print more money in hopes that the day of reckoning will never come?