July 23, 2019

Unhappy Days are Here Again

Not quite the same words that the old Roosevelt song read but the reality of today’s sad situation is that it took 8 years but the Obama administration will leave office with the nation in a severe recession after having spent trillions of dollars to get us out of a recession in 2008. Almost every budget that Mr. Obama submitted to Congress while he was in office was nearly a trillion dollars out of balance with incoming revenue. The National Debt is now at $19 trillion dollars with the interest of this “national debt” consuming near $400 billion dollars and growing for which the American taxpayers get nothing. This interest pays the investors that buy our debt and is expected to grow as rates increase.

While the measured unemployment statistics, those people currently out of work but looking for work, is low, it would make one think that we have solved the problem. However, if one takes into consideration the millions of American workers that have actively stopped looking for work, our unemployment would be in the range of 15% to 20%.

The stock market has taken many financial hits in the past few weeks and many call it a “YoYo” market as it goes up and down depending upon the situation in China, the price of oil, the strength of the dollar and our sinking GDP. The Federal Reserve is powerless to act having kept interest rates artificially low for 8 years and having bought up $3.5 trillion dollars in bank assets as part of its quantitative easing strategy which, by the way, did not work.

We, as a country, are in serious trouble but you would never know it by watching the “presidential circus” as it moves from State to State giving one the impression that an “easy fix” was just around the corner. Raising taxes might work if we cut spending at the same time. We need a balanced budget and the rising cost of our entitlement programs is submarining the Federal budget. The Defense budget is skyrocketing but no one ever seems to question the thousands of military bases we have around the world. Did the fighting in Korea not end 63 years ago? Why do we still have a military base on Okinawa? America spends more on its military than the next 15 countries combined. Supplemental spending bills under Obama accounted for $900 billion dollars in 2008 and the United States has spent $3.7 trillion dollars for the just the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The college class of 2015 is the most indebted class in history. The average student owes at least $35,000 with over 7 million debtors in default.  Student debt is growing with the current debt fast approaching $1.4 trillion dollars.

I keep hoping that sanity will return to the operation of our Federal Government. The current presidential candidates borrow money and use funds that they have raised to run for an office where they will continue to operate on borrowed money. Makes no sense. Unhappy days are here again.

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Written by
Donald Wittmer

DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati's Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.

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Written by Donald Wittmer