America Enters the Doom Loop
America is in a real pickle.
Our most pressing issue is a self-inflicted wound born of our deeply partisan divide: the weaponization of the criminal justice system and much of the media by Democrats in order to get Donald Trump and protect Joe Biden.
As troubling as every aspect of this effort may be – including Trump’s self-defeating responses to his mistreatment – it’s fitting that this drama is dominating our politics. If the Democrats succeed in undermining the third branch of government (the independent judiciary), we will be in danger of losing the Republic Benjamin Franklin challenged each generation to keep. The stakes are that high.
Still, I wonder: It’s probably going too far to cast all that sturm und drang – which now includes Republican talk of impeaching Biden – as political theater staged by the two parties. But it is awfully convenient for our elected leaders that the attention paid to tribal scandals obscures the failure of both parties to address multiple crises facing the country. At a time when “doom loop” and “fiscal cliff” are becoming part of the lexicon, they are like the people who try to get out of a hole by digging. Consider:
- The national debt now stands at almost $33 trillion, or more than 120% of our annual Gross Domestic Product. In June, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that net interest costs on that debt would amount to $663 billion in 2023 and that it will double over the next decade. If no action is taken, interest payments are projected to exceed spending on Medicare and national defense. In 30 years, that debt service will become the largest line in the budget, bigger than Medicaid and Social Security. This is, of course, unsustainable. It is also not surprising. Many economists have been warning about the threat since the Reagan administration – while our leaders have fiddled. And so, the deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 is expected to exceed $2 trillion, about twice what it was last year.
- Higher education has been America’s key path to opportunity, prosperity, and fulfillment since World War II. But that road is being closed to millions, who cannot afford its onerous tolls. Accounting for inflation, tuition increased by around 54% between July 2001 and July 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Student loan debt now stands at about $1.77 trillion, a 66% increase over the last decade, according to the Federal Reserve. Although much of this problem can be traced to easy government loans that encouraged schools to jack up their costs, our leaders are not even offering a semblance of a plan to fix it. President Biden’s continuing schemes to transfer some of this debt onto the backs of taxpayers does nothing to address the underlying problems while adding even more to our crushing national debt.
- Our immigration system is beyond broken. Many millions of people from far-flung corners of the world have streamed across our southern border since 2021. Cities and town stretching from New York and Chicago to Denver and Sacramento are struggling to provide shelter and other services to these migrants. Updating earlier reporting by RealClearInvestigations, the Wall Street Journal notes that the U.S. Immigration court system “has become an intractable bottleneck. … Millions of immigrants in the U.S. have settled into new lives while waiting, most of them for years, to learn whether they will be allowed to stay for good.” While Biden administration policies have gravely intensified this crisis – even as the president mysteriously turns a deaf ear to calls from Democratic mayors and governors for assistance – the “border crisis” and the need for immigration reform are issues both parties have acknowledged and ignored for decades.
Those are just three of the many monumental challenges our nation is failing to address. Politicians and much of the media pretend that the problem stems from our deep partisan divide. That would be true if the parties were offering competing plans about how to fix them. They are not. Instead, we are hurtling down the abyss, shouting about who should be our leader – BIDEN! TRUMP! – when neither man, or any other elected official for that matter, has demonstrated the imagination or will to lead us out of this mess.
In fairness, the fault does not lie solely in Washington. Ultimately, we the people are responsible for our government. Our unwillingness to demand action – and to bear the painful consequences that will attend any meaningful remedies – encourages the government to just keep digging deeper holes while doubling down on strident political theater that increasingly sounds like whistling past the graveyard.
This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.