As Congress and President Barack Obama continue to dither over the debt ceiling, conservatives ranging from former New York Gov. George Pataki to former GOP presidential candidate Steven Forbes, among others, are warning in increasingly shrill tones that America is running out of time to get its financial house in order.
“I think America is going to go the way of other great nations historically,” says author and syndicated columnist Walter E. Williams after carefully observing the political games being played over the deficit. “And that is down the tubes. That’s my prediction.”
Pataki, in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, says America is facing “an enormous crisis that looms above everything else.”
GOP budget guru Rep. Paul Ryan has warned that America is “on a path of economic ruin.”
And in an interview that Human Events published Wednesday, magazine publisher Forbes called for a return to the gold standard to shore up the dollar and stave off financial ruin.
“People know that something is wrong with the dollar,” said Forbes, who believes the gold standard would rein in federal spending. “You cannot trash your money without repercussions.”
One view all four of them share: America needs strong leadership to work its way out of a debt crisis that has led to $1 trillion annual deficits being projected through 2020. But they don’t see it coming from the White House.
“We now have $14.3 trillion of debt and under President Obama the debt has just increased the speed at which we’re racking up these unsustainable numbers,” Pataki warns. “This year, we’re looking at a $1.65 trillion deficit. Unprecedented.
“And yet when solutions are advanced, President Obama just ignores them or demonizes them,” he says. “And we can’t let him get away with this. We’re going to hold him accountable and we’re going to demand action to deal with the crisis right now,” he said.
Toward that end, Pataki created No American Debt, an organization he established to influence the presidential race in contested states such as Michigan, Florida, and Nevada, as well as early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. Pataki said he has more than $1 million in financial support for the group, and hopes to raise more than $10 million over the course of the campaign.
The effort echoes his previous campaign, Revere America, a group dedicated to fighting Obamacare. According to The Washington Post, the organization spent more than $2.5 million in the run-up to the 2010 election to support fiscally conservative candidates.
Pataki told Newsmax that Revere was involved in 88 house races, and won 44. And he’s just getting started with No American Debt.
“We’re going to be out there talking to the American people, we’re going to running ads holding the president accountable and we intend, as I did earlier with Obamacare, to get the American people to understand that the president can’t duck this, hide this issue, he has got to stand up and lay out what he is going to do today.”
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Pataki said that, when he was governor, he cut state workforce by more than 15 percent, and a similar move on the federal level would save hundreds of billions of dollars. He also advocated shifting Medicaid to a state block grant program which he said would save 10 15 percent of costs, raising the retirement age to 69, and closing military bases. The United States has 153 military bases around the globe with 15 alone in Germany, holdovers from the long-gone Cold War, he said.
The U.S. debt crisis is so serious that Forbes predicts the nation will have no choice but to return to the gold standard in the next five years. So far, the only likely GOP presidential candidate endorsing that idea is libertarian-leaning GOP Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. But Forbes believes that will have to change.
“What seems astonishing today could become conventional wisdom in a short period of time,” he told Human Events.
How long does America have until the interest payments on its national credit card escalate to the point where it can no longer afford to provide basic services to its citizens?
“We might be near that point right now,” says Williams, the George Mason economist. “If debt continues to grow the way it has been growing for the last decade, a large percentage of the taxes we collect will be for paying interest on the debt. Interest on the debt will probably in a few years exceed the military expenditures, and other expenditures that we make.
“When that happens, we’re just going to collapse. That is, Congress is going to say: ‘Well look, we can’t pay the debt, forget about it, and default on the debt.’ That’s what countries do,” Williams says.
Experts say the United States already has to borrow about 40 cents for every dollar it spends. And ultimately, the blame for that lies not with politicians, but with the voters themselves.
“They elect them to office to take the property of one American, and bring it back to them,” Williams tells Newsmax. “Whether it’s in the form of Medicare, whether it’s in the form of prescription drugs, farm subsidies, food stamps, welfare, you name it. That’s what we’ve become: We’ve become a nation of thieves who use the government to take someone else’s property.”
Williams says at least two-thirds of the current activities of the federal government would have been “unthinkable” to the Founding Fathers, in terms of their understanding of the role of the federal government.
As recently as 1930, he states, it would have been beyond the pale to imagine the government would embark on the avalanche of bureaucratic programs that now are funded every day.
The one optimistic sign for Williams: The grass-roots conservative rebellion generally identified as the tea parties.
“That’s the only optimistic note I see on the horizon,” Williams tells Newsmax. “The problem is, I don’t know if it will be enough.”
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