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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

The nation's bills keep piling up

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The past week's headlines were dominated by the ongoing debate over the health care overhaul and the upheaval that followed.

President Obama and his posse hit the stump to play cheerleader for the health care overhaul and denounce the fiery rhetoric that followed passage of the bill. A dozen or more lawmakers reported threats directed toward them for their health care vote.

Meanwhile, the talking heads on both sides of the political spectrum were quick to denounce the name calling and veiled threats. And, as expected, both sides pointed an accusing finger of blame toward each other.

While the national media fed us a nonstop stream of health care babble, two hidden news items got lost in the shuffle.

Beware of small items tucked neatly beneath the headlines. Those are often the ones with the most impact.

The Commerce Department on Thursday quietly announced that personal income fell in 42 states last year. The American view that each generation will improve their financial position from the prior generation hit a pothole.

Personal income from wages, dividends, rent, retirement funds and government benefits slipped 1.7 percent last year. That downward trend showed improvement in the final quarter of 2009 but overall, the slipping economy clearly had an impact.

Then with little fanfare, the independent Congressional Budget Office said last week that President Obama's budget for next year will result in a $10 trillion budget deficit over the next 10 years - that's $1.2 trillion more than the administration had promised.

That one-two punch went unnoticed as we focused on the issue of health care. But declining personal incomes and a $1.2 trillion taxpayer surprise should not be relegated to the back pages.

Here's one nugget of news that should get your attention regardless of your party affiliation. The public debt was $6.3 trillion when President Obama took office. It stands at $8.2 trillion today. That debt will reach $20.3 trillion in 2020.

In reality, none of us can fully understand nor appreciate these numbers. But we can understand that we work more but have less left at the end of the day. We can understand that the actions taken today will someday have to be paid. Yet we don't yet know how these debts will impact our daily lives.

The GOP would be wise to quickly switch the rhetoric from the health care debate and focus on the pocketbooks of the American public. We may be confused on just how this health care overhaul will impact our lives but we're not confused when our paycheck is unable to meet our daily needs.

When the working public finally sees the impact on their families from this avalanche of government spending, the pendulum of big government will swing in a different direction.

For many of us, that day can not come soon enough!

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen