Tag Archives: government spending

The Federal Deficit Keeps Growing

Yesterday was the federal government budget.  I didn’t bother going through most of it because it’s an election year, so it includes a little something for everybody. Bloomberg called it ‘a laundry list for voters.’ Nothing like getting a little kickback or bribe with our own borrowed money that someday we’ll have to pay back. All that borrowed money being sprinkled around on this International Happiness Day…

What I did notice was the deficit for the coming year. That’s not the debt – it’s just the overspending for the year. Prime Minister Trudeau promised in 2015 that there would be a small deficit of $10 billion for two years and that the budget would be balanced by 2019. It’s now year five and it’s still double that – each year.

The 2016 deficit was 19.7 billion, 2017 19 billion, 2018 14.9 billion and this year it’ll be 19.8 billion and the governments’ own estimates are for 56 billion in the next four years.

The two biggest political financial lies I’ve ever heard were from the former Mayor of Montreal stating that the Olympics (there in 1976) could no more have a deficit than a man could have a baby. It turned out that the cost overruns were 720% and the debt took 30 years to pay off.

The second big lie was from Prime Minister Trudeau in 2015 when he stated that ‘budgets balance themselves.’ Five year later – still waiting for that magic self-correction to happen.

George Boelcke – Money Tools & Rules book – yourmoneybook.com

Government Debt vs. Ours – Is It Fair to Compare?

Now that the Canadian Federal Election is a month behind us, what are we in for? If you voted Conservative, it’s nice to see there’s a majority government and we won’t be spending the $300 million on an election every two years.

If you’re not Conservative – don’t worry about it – that’s not a true conservative government that’s elected in any event. Partly, because us Canadians wouldn’t want it, or tolerate it.The budget two weeks ago had $37 billion in deficit. That’s more spending than income. And the government will take four years to get out of the hole. If you’re spending more than you’re earning, four years puts you into bankruptcy, and you had better deal with this BIG problem sooner.

You may also realize that nobody is talking about our $500 billion debt. That’s no different than most of us individuals. We only really want to focus on making it through each month, and thinking about our total debt is way too depressing. Well, you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge. But….let’s not talk about that, or even think about the total staggering amount of debt…. Right now, however, that debt takes $40 billion of interest payments. That’s the deficit right there if we weren’t in debt!

Again, it’s exactly the same as most people’s finances. The interest we pay each month has a real choke hold on our finances.

Four years to get out of the hole? That’s four years of not a single dollar onto paying down the debt. And that’s in an economic upturn cycle. So what happens when the next down cycle, or recession comes? Yup. We’re right back to borrowing, just to pay the bills.

The vicious cycle, for governments all over the world, and all of us, is totally backwards. Financially successful people SPEND during a bad economy and SAVE during the boom times. Think about that. They’re spending when everything is on sale and saving when earnings are up and inflation makes things more expensive.

Lastly, can we please stop comparing ourselves to broke countries? Well, we’re better off than this country or that. What nonsense. My neighbor might have one foot in bankruptcy court and that makes me financially successful? Give me a break!

And a final question to ponder: Who leads the way here? Should the government be the ones to balance their budget and live within their revenues, or should we lead by example and then hold the government accountable?

Yesterday’s U.S. Elections

Yesterday, the U.S. had their mid-term elections and there are certainly some interesting philosophies and policy suggestions raised when it come to debt and financing.

A number of very conservative Tea Party Republicans were elected as senators yesterday. Their common belief, and quite correctly, is that the deficit (spending) is out of control, and spending has to be curtailed – NOW. OK, but between March and June of next year they will need to vote on increasing the debt limit. That’s the total the government owes, but something nobody really talks about at all. That’s kind of like the U.S. credit limit, and it has to be voted on a specific day when the debt ceiling is reached.

Will these senators stand on principal and refuse to vote for it? If so, you are going to see a huge, immediate, and world-wide impact on the stock market, consumer confidence, the dollar, and many other areas. It will also immediately shut down all but essential government services. Will they do it on principal, no matter what the implications?

What drove me insane yesterday were a bunch of politicians flagrantly refusing to answer direct questions of what spending they would cut. For the entire election campaign, it was nothing but generalities and buzzwords. That sounds nice, but specifically, what would you cut? Pretty much all of them said it couldn’t, and wouldn’t be defense, social security, and medicare. Fine, but there’s a problem: These three areas are around 93% of all federal spending. So what does that leave?

The equivalent is that you can’t or won’t cut your spending on housing, vehicles financed, and utilities. What does that leave where you can have a meaningful impact on your debt? Yup – nothing. Take a $4,000 income, and now work with only 7% that you can impact. That’s $280. Can you work your way out of an incredible mountain of debt when all you can work with is maybe 5 or 10% of that $280? It’s nuts. It’s political talk, and it’s ridiculous.

There are literally trillions of dollars that the U.S. government has in unfunded liabilities. That’s IOUs for pensions and medicare that are not funded and for which there’s no money. Yet, there was no talk about that. They can’t even come up with specific solutions to today’s debt – never mind the next wave that will hit within five or ten years.

There’s a Canadian politician that coined the phrase: Elections aren’t the time to talk about policy. Yesterday’s elections reminded me of that. Or essentially, we’re pretty much too stupid to understand policy questions and meaningful solutions.

Lastly, you know I’m not in favour of debt and borrowing. But in the U.S., and Canada, there are only three groups that can spend in the economy: Consumers, businesses, and the government. In a recession as severe as the one just ending, consumers stopped spending, as did businesses. Who does that leave? Can you imagine how much worse it would have been without the government infrastructure spending?

And ironically, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce heavily lobbied politicians two years ago to vote in favor of the stimulus programs. A year later, they’re spending tens of millions in campaign money against those same people who did! But that’s not much different than what some of the opposition parties did in Canada. Ah, if we could only be like politicians and have it both ways – all the time. Unfortunately, for us, in the real world – that’s not reality.