Tom Purcell: Spendthrift idioms define Congress |

Tom Purcell: Spendthrift idioms define Congress


“Republicans like to talk about fiscal discipline, but when they have control of Congress they spend like drunken sailors!”

“Ah, yes, you speak of the recent $150 billion spending bill that does some good things for veterans, but is loaded with goodies and pork — as though the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t warned that our annual deficits will exceed $1 trillion in 2020 and will increase our debt by $12.4 trillion by 2028!”

“That’s a lot of cabbage. That’s why every idiom that ever described reckless spending applies to Congress. To borrow from Ben Franklin, Congress and our hard-earned tax dollars are soon parted!”

“That’s regrettably true. Despite record economic growth and an increase in government revenue, the federal deficit through August was $224 billion more than it was last year at this time.”

“Well, as they say in Congress, easy come, easy go!”

“What’s worse: Congress isn’t just spending our money carelessly, it’s spending the money of millions of Americans who aren’t born yet.”

“You mean Congress is spending like there’s no tomorrow?”

“Exactly. And tomorrow looks dire where debt is concerned. Since 2002, our politicians have increased the debt by nearly $15 trillion. We’ve been spending, on average, roughly $930 billion per year more than we take in in tax receipts. These debt increases cannot go on forever.”

“You mean that at some point, Congress is going to run out of blank checks?”

“That’s right. Massive borrowing provides more money for Congress to spend now, but, says the independent Congressional Research Service, it comes at the cost of higher taxes and diminished economic growth for future generations.”

“I worry about my kids and my kids’ kids, but I’ll be long gone by the time my kids’ kids’ kids get stuck with the tab!”

“We’re already stuck. According to J.P. Morgan Asset Management, personal household debt — mortgages, credit cards, car loans, etc. — averages about $126,000. Meanwhile, our federal debt, currently $21.5 trillion, will average $127,000 per household by the end of this year!”

“My family owes more on government borrowing than on our mortgage because Congress thinks money grows on trees?”

“Regrettably. Yet so few people understand that a fiscal train wreck is fast headed our way. Mandated benefits, such as Social Security and Medicare, are going to explode as the baby boom generation retires.”

“You mean congressional spendthrifts will have to go through our money like it’s burning holes in their pockets?”

“Precisely. The president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 is $4.407 trillion — up $300 billion over 2018. About 62 percent covers the annual costs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. As millions more retire, the cost of mandated benefits will skyrocket.”

“You’re a regular Suzy Sunshine!”

“Look, Americans need to get their heads around our rapidly increasing spending and debt. At some point, our debt will grow so large, we’ll have to offer lenders high interest rates to entice them to keep lending — rates so high we won’t be able to pay them. When that happens is anyone’s guess, but it will happen eventually if we don’t get our fiscal house in order.”

“In other words, to borrow from Margaret Thatcher, Congress will eventually run out of other people’s money!”

Freelance writer Tom Purcell of Library is author of “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood!” Visit him on the web at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.