Trump’s major challenge
On the left, hysteria, profanity, protests, puppy-cuddling, and various sundry demands and not-so-implied threats. On the right, exuberance, cheers, American flag-waving, and high expectations of rolling back excessive and intrusive government actions. A true way forward, based on core conservatism, is eagerly anticipated in many quarters. This anticipation grows as various names are floated or nominated for key cabinet positions. However, a major challenge to the president-elect is receiving little notice.
Of all the serious challenges facing this nation, the federal budget is possibly the most concerning. Within that budget, entitlements must be addressed. Of the entitlements, the health of Social Security, as highlighted by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, is of real concern. It is easy to see that the nation is traveling an unsustainable course.
The new administration and Congress must address the national debt and entitlements. Doing so will require strength of conviction; the brightest minds; difficult political choices; and clear, concise communication with the American people. Detailed plans enacted by legislation where necessary or executive action where reasonably and legally possible is required.
It is clear to the average individual that expenditures cannot perpetually exceed revenues. Continuing to do so will ruin the country. In the case of Social Security, the alternative is either reducing benefits (expenditures) or increasing the Social Security payroll tax by as much as 4% (revenues), or a combination of the two. How to do so without adverse political impact has been the barrier to earlier action, as the nation spends more money than it brings in. That this specific challenge must be addressed is particularly important to retirees or those about to retire.
The overall economic policy and approach to the federal budget are crucial, with so many factors to be considered. Will government pensions be cut? Will spending on health care be reduced? Will taxes be raised? How to increase revenues and tackle national debt? What about inflation and investment returns? I make no assertion of any economic expertise, but the questions are easy to pose after looking at the economic landscape.
All the exuberance and eager anticipation makes for great feelings in the post-election glow, but reality must be addressed. The major challenge of dealing with the federal budget must not be pushed down the road as successive administrations have done.