Columnists, Denver, Mike Rosen, National, Politics, U.S. Congress, Uncategorized

Rosen: Democrats joyriding off a fiscal cliff

(You can listen to this column, read by the author, here.)

A special election will be held in November for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.  In a recent candidates debate, one of the contenders, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, called for raising California’s minimum wage to $50.00 an hour, arguing that low income workers need that much to just get by given the cost of living in that state.  $50 an hour computes to $104,000 a year. (U.S. median personal income is currently just over $50,000.)

Lee is a radical activist who represents Oakland and Berkeley, a district where whites are a distinct minority at 32%.  She’s held that seat for 25 years, reelected in 2022 with 90% of the vote.  Her voting record is at the extreme left of progressive House Democrats.

Her proposal is preposterous and unfeasible, as anyone with the slightest grasp of economics would understand. She’s oblivious to that, nor would she be concerned given her ideology and political agenda. But this column isn’t about the minimum wage.  I’m just offering this as a classic example of a much bigger problem: the mentality of elected officials like Rep. Lee and her ilk and the damage they’re doing to our nation.

It’s most obvious in cities and states wholly controlled by Democrats, like Denver and Colorado.  In both the state legislature and Denver City Council every single Democrat seems duty bound to sponsor yet another statute, ordinance, or regulation that will expand government, solve every problem – no matter how insignificant –  and deliver the promise of joy and social(ist) justice.  And money is no object. Of course, all of these won’t become law (although far too many do) because the sky is not the limit.  Ultimately, however, fiscal insolvency is the limit.

This is mostly theatrical virtue signaling giving all these politicians something to brag about; a public display of compassion and concern, practicality aside.

This scam is greatly to the disadvantage of conservative Republicans constrained by reality.  They could never – nor would they want to – outbid progressive Democrats in an auction for unachievable utopian outcomes that lead to economic ruin, especially in places where voters are hooked on unsustainable government handouts.  Which is precisely why Democrats are in power here.

At the national level, the problem is far worse, even critical. I’m not exaggerating when I say the U.S. government is on a trajectory to fiscal insolvency.  The federal budget has run a deficit every year since 2002.  Our gross national debt is $34 trillion, 130% of our economy. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it will exceed 200% by 2053.  What the government calls “payments to individuals” is 2/3 of all federal spending.  Most of that is Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, compounded by a cornucopia of so-called “entitlements.” This is the primary force driving our perpetual deficits and, consequently, interest on the national debt which is approaching 13% of the budget, exceeding defense spending.

Soaking the rich won’t balance the books.  The top 1% of taxpayers already pays 43% of all federal income taxes (the bottom 50% pays only 3%). The U.S Treasury estimates the combined unfunded obligations of the Social Security and Medicare programs alone will total $80 trillion over the next 75 years.  Their so-called “trust funds” are just bookkeeping entries.  They don’t hold piles of cash or stocks, just IOUs from the Treasury.  To pay deficiencies the government will have to raise taxes or borrow more money.  All of the government’s gold in Fort Knox is relative chicken feed with a market value of only $275 billion.  That’s a measly $275 billion not TRILLION.

No one knows exactly what a U.S. default on its national debt will look like, but would surely lead to an international depression.  Most Republicans recognize the necessity of heading off this catastrophe.  But even discussing this problem is a political minefield.  Back in 2012, when Republican Congressman Paul Ryan dared to suggest Social Security reforms, a progressive attack group ran a TV ad showing a likeness of Ryan pushing a grandma in a wheelchair off a cliff.

Democrats pretend this crisis doesn’t exist, damning Republicans who even hint at reforms.  Radical lefties like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Barbara Lee go even further promising to expand these programs. No Republican is considering “slashing” or “eliminating” Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. But unless we trim, or least contain their growth and put a limit on entitlement programs the U.S. will go broke.

There’s no easy answer to this crisis, but there is a first step for rational Americans: For Heaven’s sake stop voting for Democrats!  Young people, especially, take note.  It’s your future.

Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for


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