Tag Archives: Government debt

The national debt is my debt

“It’s our country. It’s our debt. We are all responsible. We can’t just sit around waiting for government to fix this.” — Scott Soucy | Middletown, Del.

Eli Saslow at the Washington Post has a story about a guy, Scott Soucy, with a proposal to pay down the national debt. He believes each of us, including businesses, can take care of the national debt on our own. The simple explanation is you donate $1 every paycheck and businesses donate $1 for every transaction over $10. Personally, I think the paycheck proposal is easier to swallow than the business one.

There is a group looking to have a place on your tax form you can designate to donate to the debt. Before I found the site, I looked at the 1040 form and there is not a space specifically designated for that. You can give $3 to the presidential campaign fund, but not for the debt. You can send the IRS a separate check with your return if you like, but how many people are actually mailing hard copy tax forms anymore?

If you want to help pay off the debt, Pay.gov has a page, Gifts to Reduce the Public Debt, where you can donate online.

Obviously, if you’re convinced government has more of a spending problem than an income problem, you might not be motivated to do something like this. However, the fact that it’s voluntary might have some appeal even to fiscal hawks.

There are legion stories about government spending money it doesn’t have, the most glaring example being our entering a war we that didn’t cost us a single extra tax nickel now. It was the first time we ever did that. We got into debt for other wars, but we at least paid for some of each with additional taxes.

Complaining about that, though, has yet to do anything to solve the debt trouble we are in. At least Soucy is seeing the problem as his own. I think there is probably much to fault in his specific plan, but he is not waiting around for someone else to come up with a better idea. He’s taking on the challenge now and encouraging others to do the same. If 220 million other people felt that same level of accountability we might actually solve the problem.

It may come down to 220 million people like me realizing that however little blame I am willing to accept for the overall problem, I benefit from federal spending any time I cross the Manette Bridge.

According to CNN people donated nearly $8 million to pay down the debt in fiscal 2012, more than double the donations from earlier years. It’s a groundswell, but it’s far from 220 million. No wonder, then, there is little movement in solving the fiscal cliff issue. American leaders are taking their cues from us. Almost everyone involved is waiting for someone else to budge.