The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Are we borrowing against future?

 

March 25, 2020



By the time President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, nearly half the nation’s governors had already declared health emergencies of their own. The states, not the federal government, have been leading the battle against COVID-19.

In New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a health emergency on March 11, and since then, our state’s effort to contain the spread of this new disease has come out of Santa Fe.

It started with cancellations of everything that draws a crowd and, within a week, extended to mass closings of nonessential services like dining in or having a drink at your local bar. Such actions are highly inconvenient and harmful to the economy, but still better than an all-out outbreak that overloads our hospitals and kills our elderly.

Now that we’ve essentially locked down America, one state at a time, what’s left but to start testing people for the virus. But that’s not possible because we don’t have enough testing kits. In February, the Centers for Disease Control botched its first attempt to mass-produce a COVID-19 test kit, severely cutting back our ability to get a handle on the disease in its earliest stages of outbreak in the U.S.

Seems our dysfunctional federal government has come home to roost.

Now, our best hope to avert a health catastrophe is to “shelter in place,” practice “social distancing” and sacrifice our economy for our health.

One way to avoid an economic collapse, our dysfunctional federal government is thinking, is to throw money at us. It’s being called an economic aid package but it’s really a massive bailout that includes checks to Americans to help us through the hard times — to the tune of more than a trillion dollars, more than the size of our current national deficit, and then another trillion or two in the days and weeks ahead.

Voices of dissension are weak or non-existent, I suppose because nobody wants to be against $1,200 checks landing in nearly every American’s mailbox. But since I’m not running for office and don’t need your vote of approval, I’ll ask the trillion dollar question: Aren’t we just borrowing money against our children’s future?

That’s always been the argument against deficit spending, that we’re saddling future generations with our indebtedness. I can understand the Democrats’ going along with the consumer bailout, since they’re not known for their fiscal prudence anyway (though it’s only fair to note that the last surplus this nation enjoyed was created during Bill Clinton’s administration). But you would think Republicans, who used to stand on the principle of fiscal responsibility, would be opposed to such a socialistic approach to the economy.

Moreover, they’re all wanting to get the checks to us as soon as possible, as if we’re starving already. What happens if this drags out for months, as many knowledgeable people are predicting? Will Uncle Sam give us weekly checks to get us through the crisis? We’ll be needing it, right?

Of course, I really don’t know what a trillion-dollar giveaway, or two or three, will do to the economy. Maybe the circumstances demand it.

But, if it works, it’ll be hard to take seriously any future warnings of the dangers of deficit spending. If it works, maybe we can eliminate taxes altogether and just print money, so we can all live comfortably ever after.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at:

[email protected]

 
 

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