It is hard to imagine any President of the United States being able to fulfill all the demands that the American people have placed before him or her.
Some 500,000 women marched on Washington, D.C. to let President Trump know that women have rights. I don’t think any intelligent person would challenge this. The reality (and problem) is that every citizen has rights they believe need to be addressed: gays, transgender, handicapped, and so on. And today, I venture, even the 200-plus Inauguration Day rioters facing 10-year prison sentences believe that they also have rights.
No one is quite sure how many immigrants we have in the United States that are not here legally. The estimate of 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States was taken in 2005. Conservatively we could add another 3 million to this number. A Bear Stearns study estimates the total number of illegal immigrants at 20 million. Regardless of the actual number, these immigrants have rights.
Unemployed workers demand unemployment compensation. Unfortunately this benefit only lasts a fixed number of weeks. The Labor Participation Report paints a much darker picture of our weak job economy. Because jobless workers are only counted as unemployed if they are actively seeking work, these “missing workers” are not reflected in the unemployment rate. The number of people of all ages whom the government considers “not in the labor force” swelled to a record 94.7 million Americans. Is it possible to secure employment for all these workers? The answer is unequivocally no.
The Affordable Care Act is hardly affordable. Insurers are leaving the market due to losses and rates and premiums are swelling. Some deductibles are so high that visiting a physician is pretty much an out of pocket cost for most Americans. Health costs and pharmaceutical costs are skyrocketing. Even generic drugs which were supposed to keep costs down are going up. Health care costs are rising faster than inflation and this prompts insurance companies to raise premiums.
It goes without saying that government mandated programs are in deep financial trouble. Medicare has to be changed or, in about seven years, it will be bankrupt. Social Security is facing the same fate as fewer numbers of taxpayers are paying into the fund but the number of baby boomers is fixed and they are retiring at a rapid rate of 10,000 each day. There were 76 million people born between the years 1946 and 1964.
Americans have an insatiable appetite for “I want” or “I need” or “I deserve.” A typical example is the controversial Planned Parenthood organization whose costs are roughly in the $530 million dollar range annually. This non-profit organization operates 159 medical and non-medical affiliates which in turn operate 650 health clinics. Many Americans now want their student debt to be forgiven. The key question being is “where will the money come from?”
The United States is badly in need of tax reform. Our 96,000 page tax code is hopelessly obsolete. Compounding the problem with tax reform is the fact that there is no “balanced budget” and our government operates on “appropriation” requests that have resulted in trillions of dollars in debt. Reducing tax revenue is an attractive idea that is usually sold on the fact that offsetting this revenue decline is the number of new Americans that would be paying taxes. Sadly, it has not worked in the past and there is very little hope that it will ever work in the future.
The corporate side of the taxation issue is even more complicated. Reports indicate that major multinational corporations are stockpiling profits offshore to avoid paying U.S. taxes. They are avoiding $695 billion dollars in U.S. taxation by holding $2.4 trillion dollars offshore. This issue needs to be addressed by our Congress. Our Tax rules need to be changed and updated to reflect business practices in the 21st century.
Our infrastructure is crumbling. We have 140,000 bridges as part of our national system that need repair; 40% of our highway surfaces are so deteriorated that the road beds have to be rebuilt; and we have a $70 billion backlog in transit system repair. The situation is so bad that by 2020, the United States will have to invest an estimated $3.6 trillion dollars in infrastructure repair.
Our National debt of $20 trillion dollars is rising daily and the interest rate to carry this debt is also rising. In 2016, our government paid $432,649,652,901 (that’s billion!!!) dollars in interest to carry this National debt. Americans owe nearly $1.3 trillion dollars in student debt spread out over 44 million borrowers. The average class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 dollars in student debt. The delinquency rate is also rising and now stands at 11.1%.
So I ask: “Who would want to be President of the United States?” Congratulations, #45. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
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.