CBO: This American debt bomb is going really to hurt when it explodes — just so you know

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf was speaking at The Atlantic’s 2014 Economy Summit in Washington and he had a message for the American people: Pain.

CNS News reported:

The United States faces “fundamental fiscal challenges” stemming from the growth in spending for Social Security and major health care programs,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told a gathering in Washington on Tuesday.

The rising cost of those programs leaves Americans with “unpleasant” choices to make, but the sooner they’re made, the better, he said: “So we have a choice as a society to either scale back those programs relative to what is promised under current law; or to raise tax revenue above its historical average to pay for the expansion of those programs; or to cut back on all other spending even more sharply than we already are,” Elmendorf said.

“And we haven’t actually decided as a society…what we’re going to do. But some combination of those three choices will be needed.”

Elmendorf said there are various ways to proceed: “But they tend to be unpleasant in one way or another, and we have not, as a society, decided how much of that sort of unpleasantness to inflict on whom.”

I’ve been beating this drum for over four years now on this blog — I’ve called it the Jenga Economy — but Mr. Elmendorf is correct: “we have not, as a society, decided how much … unpleasantness to inflict on whom.”

The right answer is that you disperse the pain across as wide an area as possible because we are all Americans and we are all responsible for the debt tumor within. The problem is that we have “leaders” who lie to the American people about what is really happening under the surface, we have some that are just plain stupid, and we have others —like Sen. Claire McCaskill — who openly admit they have serious issues.

Hotair reported:

I do believe a $17 trillion debt is irresponsible. I do believe that. … It’s not like I am such a fiscal hawk that I don’t see that there are needs out there that we need to address. Supporting extending unemployment insurance, all of those things. … I don’t think we can keep our eye completely off that ball. So, some of the people who think, well, you know, deficits don’t matter, and debt doesn’t matter. We have cut our deficit by a lot, and that’s great, but I don’t think it’s responsible to go back to the old way, ’cause you know what the old way was? We said yes to everybody. You know, we want to be loved. That’s why we run for office.

She wants to be loved? That’s why she runs? Again — she’s said yes to everybody because she wants to be loved.

Unbelievable. You can not make this stuff up.

Leaders do not say yes to everyone. Leaders know that they must make tough decisions and that they will not be loved by everyone. Leaders take it on the chin because they know that what they’re doing is in the long-term interest of those under their command.

It is safe to say that Sen. Claire McCaskill is not a leader. The vast majority of her friends in the Senate are not leaders, and neither are the vast majority of her counterparts in the House. But, like I said, we’re all in some way culpable for what is to come.

The constituents who elected politicians to whisper sweet nothings into their ears are responsible. The American citizen who seemingly prides himself for being an uninformed boob is responsible. Independents who only opt to rhetorically throw stones at both parties are responsible. And yes, yours truly is responsible…in many, many ways that I’d be happy to expand on in the comments section.

Are you prepared for the “unpleasantness” coming down the pike? I am.

Related: The Jenga Economy: Brought to you by the federal government

Obesity Epidemic? Try Stupidity Epidemic, America.

Newsfat (I mean "newsflash"): If you swap spit with a fat person, you won't grow love handles. If you eat fried foods with them before going to bed every night, you will. Shocker.

America doesn’t have an “obesity epidemic.” You don’t “catch a fat” when you’re in enclosed spaces with your overweight coworker. Fat rolls aren’t picked up by people who don’t cover their stomach when they sneeze. If we’re going to play that game, let’s be honest: America has a “stupidity epidemic.” And on that topic Slate has a story that’s worth unpacking:

Racial and ethnic minority adults continue to make up the largest share of the epidemic. Among the national population, obesity rates were the highest for African-Americans and Latinos.

In addition, Americans who made less money and had less education were more likely to be obese. Adults making less than $15,000 per year, for instance, had a 33 percent obesity rate, compared with a 21.5 percent rate for those making at least $50,000 per year.

Anyone who’s occasionally listened to rap knows that guys like Kanye West believe the government concocted the AIDS virus to kill poor minorities, and the CIA unleashed cocaine  on inner cities to do the same.

Before you ask me to get a job today, can I at least get a raise on a minimum wage?/
And I know the government administered AIDS/
So I guess we just pray like the minister say/
Allah o Akbar and throw em some hot cars…

Question: When will rappers start throwing out lyrical daggers at the fast food industry? It will be interesting to hear theories about how George Bush and the GOP created the Quarter Pounder with Cheese to ensure a never-ended cycle of poverty and diabetes. But I digress…

The point is—fast food is cheap. We should thank our lucky stars we live in a country where rich white liberals lament the tasty, tasty burgers and crispy golden fries the less-affluent have to deal (or was that deal meal?) with.  But that’s besides the point. There are plenty of healthy alternatives. Black beans and other legumes are extremely good for you. There are many frozen and canned vegetables that are not that expensive. Meat can be pricey, but there are cost-effective options for anyone who’s willing to put in a little effort looking. This underscores the more important point: a little education and initiative go a long way. The Nanny State, however, saps initiative and drive from the citizenry. Over time, the communities  that abdicate character-building responsibilities to the federal government become human gerbil farms performing tasks for fat pellets.

We’ve become a nation that sits in front of the television for hours on end. We eat sugary snacks and carb-loaded crap while doing so. We spend hours watching vapid California girls make Japanese-inspired fools out of themselves. We actually find it entertaining to tune in to talking heads screaming at each other every night instead of going outside to play catch or ride a bike with our kids. We’ve convinced ourselves that we have to spend countless hours looking at our Blackberries or iPhones for the latest email, instead of going on a long walk with our significant other.

Cold hard truth: There is no obesity epidemic; there is a national State of Denial. We’re in denial about federal deficits. We’re in denial about entitlement programs. We’re in denial about our horrid education system. We’re in denial about how important it is for America—the freest country the world has ever known—to remain strong and vibrant on the global stage. Are you the sensitive type who thinks an American superpower creates enemies? Wait until we’re a has-been afterthought of a nation and let me know how that works for global peace and stability.

On issue after issue, we’re a country that has become the fat, lazy, bloated guy who looks in the mirror and still sees himself as a leaner, meaner version of his younger self.

One of the precursors to diabetes is acanthosis nigricans, a discoloring of the skin (usually around the sides and the back of the neck). As a nation, we have acanthosis. We’ve enjoyed the empty calories of government-goodies for a long time, and the clock is ticking before our vital signs fail. It’s obvious to our friends and neighbors, but too many of them sit silently because it’s the polite thing to do. Unfortunately, it’s also the deadly thing to do. Worse yet, the people who are supposed to serve as public-policy doctors with a prescription for healthy living aren’t doing such a bang-up job.

Keep telling yourself you have an “epidemic”, America. When you go into diabetic shock there will be no Greece or Europe or China to give you your insulin. Instead of your common dirge, might I suggest something by Radiohead at the national funeral? How to Disappear Completely seems eerily apropos.