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National Debt Clock is Broken... Literally

Joshua Sharp

Posted: Oct 13th 2008 6:54AM

Filed under: US Elections, Politics, USC

Headlines are terribly depressing these days. (Fearful that I'm part of the problem, not the solution, here are some quick, happy thoughts: kittens, Dancing Man and Just Marrieds. Enjoy.)

In all seriousness, we are facing dire circumstances. Young voters like myself and my Bright Hall colleagues, I think, should be the most worried.

Most recently, the National Debt Clock has run out of room to express the size of the national debt, a mere $10,150,603,734,720. How naive Seymour Durst was to think Congress could restrain itself to a $9,999,999,999 national debt! We have Farm Bills to pay for and earmarks to fund, not to mention tax breaks on children's wooden arrows.

It seems my letter on behalf of college students is still waiting to gain traction. Shoot. Neither campaign is willing to get too detailed about which election-year promises won't be delivered, given the state of the economy and size of the national debt. I understand why, but frustrated, broke taxpayers expect better.

John McCain's proposed spending freeze on all costs except national defense and veterans' affairs is a step in the right direction, but unrealistic in its entirety. Not even the shrewdest negotiator in the Senate could make all of that happen, while I'm confident McCain could get closer than most. Barack Obama's promises about what he won't cut -- including sunny days, small classrooms, and the Dollar Menu -- not only dodge the question but simultaneously insult voters' intelligence.

No doubt that despite recent rhetoric, in the coming years some elected officials will continue to support "adjustments" (read: increases) in thousands of unaccountable government programs, not to mention new earmarks. The arrogance with which some Members of Congress continue to burden new debt on the backs of my generation makes them no better than the AIG executives who treated themselves to a $440,000 post-bailout holiday.

But I'm still hoping one politician -- perhaps McCain -- will say the magic words: "We simply can't afford it."

In addition to political commentary, the author co-chairs USC Students for McCain. Views posted here are his own.

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