Sen. Dan Coats: National Debt Hypocrite

Senator Dan Coats claims to be concerned about the national debt, according to the "Coats Notes" email attached below. However, Senator Coats voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank in 2012. The Export-Import Bank, formed under statist Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934, exemplifies crony capitalism—crapitalism—by providing low-interest loans to US firms, typically massive companies like Boeing (thus US taxpayers are subsidizing foreign airlines competing against Delta; Cato Institute has more on the crapitalist Ex-Im Bank) and Exxon-Mobil that are more than able to come up with money on their own on open markets but prefer using cheap money taken from US taxpayers.

When it comes to expressing concerns about the national debt and budget, Senator Coats is a rank hypocrite who deserves to be voted out of office.

No Democrats voted against HR 2072 (112th session of Congress), which means every sitting Democrat felt that taking money from you to help corporations they like (and which surely like them) was a legitimate use of your taxes. Interestingly, Bernie Sanders abstained from voting.

From: Senator Dan Coats <enews@coats.senate.gov>

Date: Mon, 9 May 2016 15:56:51 -0400

Subject: Coats Notes: Debt Deniers Ignoring the Truth

Debt Deniers Ignoring the Truth

 

Much has been made about a recent TIME cover story that boldly declared that every American man, woman and child owes $42,998.12 to pay off our national debt.

The article's author, James Grant, framed the federal debt as a burden to be paid by every U.S. citizen, personalizing an otherwise abstract and impersonal statistic. But as Grant himself admits, this visualization tool does not even include intragovernmental debt, which would bring the amount owed per citizen closer to $60,000.

Critics of Grant's piece quickly attempted to dismiss our $19 trillion national debt as a non-issue or a problem easy to solve, as outlined in a Joint Economic Committee report this week. Yet denying that the current size or trajectory of U.S. federal debt is a problem is both dishonest and insulting to the American people. Indeed, despite the claims of some critics, we cannot continue to discount the short-term and long-term effects of our country's debt burden.

These "debt deniers" make three main assertions that must be refuted.

1) Debt deniers say our national debt is not that large, and that the deficit is sustainable.

When President Barack Obama took office, our national debt stood at $10.6 trillion. It now tops $19.2 trillion and is eating up a historically large share of the gross domestic product (GDP). Federal debt is roughly double its historical average of 39% of GDP and set to outpace economic growth over the next decade.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, publicly held federal debt is projected to rise to 85.6% of GDP by the end of the next decade, and to 155% within three decades -- the highest percentage ever recorded in the United States. Even the Obama administration's Treasury Department explicitly noted in its annual financial report, "The continuous rise of the debt-to-GDP ratio after 2025 indicates that current policy is unsustainable."

This is a large, dangerous and growing problem.

2) Debt deniers assert there is still time before policymakers need to make drastic decisions.

The CBO estimates that if Congress aims to simply maintain the current debt-to-GDP ratio for the next 25 years, revenues would need to increase by 6% annually, or noninterest spending would need to fall 5.5% annually. Attempting to bring publicly held federal debt back to its historical average would require 14% annual revenue increases or 13% annual noninterest spending cuts.

Can policymakers reprioritize federal spending without restructuring current programs? Not really. Within the next decade, more than 98% of federal revenue will be consumed just by mandatory spending and interest payments on the debt. That does not include spending on other important priorities like national defense and medical research.

With spending on the rise, the longer it takes for policy action, the more significant the changes must be. This is a problem requiring immediate action.

3) Debt deniers claim that reducing debt by slowing spending growth could hurt economic growth.

High levels of publicly held federal debt as a share of the economy negatively affect the private sector. The 2016 Economic Report of the President recognized this threat in other major advanced economies, but the report fails to consider the potentially destructive consequences of high federal debt in the United States. Rising federal debt dampens economic growth, burdening future generations with diminished opportunities and a larger debt burden to pay off.

Painting our national debt as a non-issue is a disservice to the average American because doing so makes it more difficult for our elected representatives to come together in bipartisan agreement to make credible, lasting fiscal reforms.

With all this in mind, Congress should heed the overall warning of TIME magazine's cover story. The U.S. federal debt is a significant problem, and it must be addressed soon. There is no denying this reality.

 

Spring 2016 Grades

Though repetitive in light of previous posts, here are my grades for this term:

  1. ECE 488, Senior Design II, 2 cr.: A
  2. ECE 401, Engineering Ethics, 1 cr.: A
  3. ECE 532, Power Systems Analysis, 3 cr.: A
  4. ECE 427, Semiconductor Power Electronics, 3 cr.: A

This term started poorly, especially since I spent the entire first four weekends doing little more than learning Kivy to build my senior project's GUI. That led to some abysmal initial test scores. However, the term ended quite well.

The first two courses listed above are the last two required courses I must take. The third and fourth are my first two EE electives. This fall I will take three more electives to graduate.

Two Finals Down

Today I had two back-to-back finals in 427 and 532.

The latter, ECE 532: Power Systems Analysis, had three tests, each similar in format: 17 multiple choice questions, the first a free four points followed by sixteen worth six points each. I have had questions with choices a~h, which makes eliminating choices very difficult. My first test was a disaster, as it came during the busiest time of the term, when my portion of the seni0r design project--learning and writing Kivy--was at its zenith. The second test went well, but not well enough to offset the first. In the end, I scored a 76 on the final, which will almost certainly result in a very solid B. If the instructor gave + and - versions of grades, I would possible get a B+.

Grades are less certain in ECE 427: Semiconductor Power Electronics. However, after a retake of an interim test, I went into the final with 63.6%, assuming I skipped the final. Since I did not skip the final, its 30% weight will greatly influence my final grade. While I could yet be proven wrong, I expect at least a 65 on the test, which would put me on the border of B- and B. I think I might have done a bit better though, in which case I should get a B there, too.

These will be my first B grades in core engineering classes, but that's fine.

Update: I was prematurely pessimistic about 427. I will apparently get an A after some grade modification. My final score of 88 helped as well. There was some adjustment for 532 as well, so it can back an A, too.