Nestled in the briefings column of Friday’s newspaper were the federal deficit figures for the first two months of the 2021 fiscal year. The federal government spent nearly double its revenues. This, even without any new coronavirus relief measures.

While there is a strong case for deficit spending in times of crisis, I am perplexed by its distributional apportionment, and by our apparent unwillingness to ask wealthier Americans to support some part of its profound burden on this and future generations.

Pick your income threshold: it could be $100,000, it could be $400,000, it could be $1 million, but there must be some level where people can be considered doing okay-enough to be contributors to federal relief measures not beneficiaries from them.

The paycheck protection program logically supported the retention of jobs for some low and middle-income Americans. But in doing so, we should have required some sacrifice from the highest earners in those same small, and not so small, business beneficiaries.

The national debt is not somebody else’s debt. It is ours. Excluding cross-agency obligations, the debt stands at about $170,000 per household, quadruple what we owed in 2008, and rising explosively now.

I do not under appreciate the scale of the current crisis and the need for immediate fiscal stimulus to aid struggling families and to avert economic collapse. But there are a lot of people who are doing fine, financially, and poorly targeting the relief we deliver will magnify the burden of our debts for generations to come.

Dick Woodbury

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: