It's no secret that we've go big financial problems in this country. And while lawmakers try to hammer out solutions to address decades of overspending and promises, what many don't see is how our fiscal crisis threatens our very existence.
"You can't spend trillions of dollars more than you take in without someday having a day of reckoning," says former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker. "It's happened to every other great republic in the past who's been fiscally irresponsible, and, frankly, some of them no longer exist."
In Washington, Walker was a deficit hawk long before it was cool, and he has had the ear of both the Republican and Democratic presidents who appointed him. However, in his current role as the CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, Walker is as much evangelist as activist and is willing to take his message —- and research -— to whoever will hear it.
Most recently, his group gained national attention when it released the Sovereign Fiscal Fitness Index, which plunked the United States into the 28th spot in the world, behind China (5), Canada (11), Mexico (18), Spain (24) and Italy (27), to name just a few.
While Australia, New Zealand and Estonia took the top three spots, "the good news" for the U.S. is that we're still ahead of Ireland, Portugal and Greece. Wooohooo! Join me now in a rousing chorus of "We're #28!"
Walker points out that the U.S. "needs to walk and chew gum at the same," adding that we have no choice but to address our short-term challenges and long-term structural problems at the same time. And he applies the same thinking to addressing the current debt ceiling/budget cut battle going on in Washington, with a bias toward sooner rather than later for a fix.
"Congress needs to stay on the floor until they address the debt ceiling," he says. " They should not go home until they address it. The stakes are too high."
He says the effects are already being seen in the treasury bond market, where the Federal Reserve is the only buyer of 10- and 30-year debt, because the return is inadequate for the risk.
"If the U.S. Government was a corporation," Walker says, "I'd short the stock and not buy the bonds."
It's the kind of candid commentary David Walker is known for, and the fact that it is coming from somebody who has spent much of his professional life navigating inside the belly of the beast makes it all the more worth listening to.
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