Tag Archives: Government debt

Can a Return to Isolationism Solve America’s National Debt Crisis?

U.S. debt from 1940 to 2010. Red lines indicat...

U.S. debt from 1940 to 2010. Red lines indicate the Debt Held by the Public (net public debt) and black lines indicate the Total Public Debt Outstanding (gross public debt), the difference being that the gross debt includes that held by the federal government itself. The second panel shows the two debt figures as a percentage of U.S. GDP (dollar value of U.S. economic production for that year). The top panel is deflated so every year is in 2010 dollars. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The increasingly partisan struggle over America’s mountainous national debt and budget crisis reminds me of a famous quote by the Roman political theorist Cicero:

“The budget should be balanced, the treasury refilled, public debt reduced, the arrogance of officialdom tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt”

With the current outrage over the outsourcing of middle-class jobs to China and Mexico, insistence on acting as the world’s policeman resulting in foreign entanglements ironically causing more problems than they have solved; and never-ending foreign aid to foreign nations during a domestic economic downturn, is it time for the United States to return to its original foreign policy of isolationism during this time of economic crises?

Isolationism is a foreign policy of non-interventionism and economic protectionism in which a nation refuses to enter alliances or international agreements with other nations in hopes of avoiding wars not related to direct self-defense. Nations practicing isolationism avoid all foreign entanglements and focus all their resources into self-advancement within its own borders.  Can a return to this way of thinking ultimately solve America’s national debt crisis? Is a return to isolationism even possible today?



Class Warfare?!

Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)

Karl Marx

President Obama recently proposed $1.5 trillion in tax increases on American corporations and the American wealthy in an attempt to reduce the nation’s annual deficit. To be fair, the term “tax increase” is not entirely accurate as the president’s plan would not increase taxes per se but would merely close corporate tax loopholes and let the Bush-era income tax cuts expire. CNN’s political ticker posted a great blog summarizing the various responses of GOP leaders to Pres. Obama’s debt plan. In general, the response from the Republican leadership has been to condemn the president’s plan as class warfare.

Class warfareis a term typically used by communists and socialists to describe the struggle between the rich and the poor. In fact, according to Karl Marx, class warfare is necessary as it will lead to the violent overthrow of capitalism. In other words, the republican response to proposed tax increases as class warfare is an attempt to imply the plan as ideologically and inherently Marxist and thus un-America and illegitimate. Conversely, if asking the top 5% to pay their fair share is analogous to class warfare, what is cutting services to the middle-class to avoid rising taxes on the rich? The American middle-class have stood idly by as:

  • Corporate lobbyists maintain more influence in Congress than the American people
  • The U.S. Congress facilitates the outsourcing of American middle-class jobs to China via tax breaks
  • Corporations receive bailouts and/or subsidies devoid of strings
  • Colossal military spending goes unimpeded while the average American soldier is underpaid
  • Bank of America and General Electric paid zero taxes to the IRS in 2009 and 2010 due to tax loopholes

The “cut government spending” counter-solution presented by Republican Party leaders make for great politics but contradicts history. Historically, there has never been a nation that has “cut” its way into prosperity. However, history is filled with examples of nations building their way to prosperity with the United States being one of them. Asking the super wealthy to pay higher taxes was not a partisan issue under the republican Eisenhower administration when the wealthy paid a whopping 90% of their income to the government. So why is asking the rich to simply pay their fair share, who are currently paying the lowest taxes since World War II, an issue today?  The answer is unfortunate but simple – party politics.


MPSL VLog: National Debt – Raise the Roof?

Congress and the President agree that we should take steps to reduce the deficit, but disagree about how to handle the national debt.  If Congress refuses to raise the legal debt ceiling, will America be able to pay its bills? Professor Gaffaney explains.

Weekly Quiz: Test Yourself on This Week’s Events

The weekly quiz is now live in Mypoliscilab. Good luck!

Colbert Report: The Word – The Business End

Mitt Romney knows how to treat America’s sick economy with his business experience. (05:38)

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Daily Show: Cantor Won’t?

Eric Cantor wants to cut other federal spending to justify financial assistance to tornado victims in Missouri.

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Weekly Poll: Your Opinion on the Federal Budget

A major decision facing Congress and the President is how to reduce the national debt as well as balance the federal budget. How challenging is this task?