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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: National Debt, Elena Kagan

Our unsustainable debt and the future of the Supreme Court

May 11, 2010

Our Unsustainable Debt
"America's financial situation is unsustainable. In 2009 the federal government spent $3.5 trillion but collected only $2.1 trillion in revenue. The result was a $1.4 trillion deficit, up from $458 billion in 2008. That's 10 percent of gross domestic product, a level unseen since World War II. Worse, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that we'll be drowning in red ink for the foreseeable future, with annual deficits averaging $1 trillion during the next decade.  While these figures are dramatic, they pale in comparison to what the federal government owes foreign and domestic investors. According to the CBO, in 2009 America's public debt reached $7.5 trillion, or 53 percent of GDP, the highest it has been in 50 years. In 2010 the debt will cross the 60 percent threshold, a level at which many economists believe a country is putting itself in financial peril. And the situation is deteriorating rapidly... The more we borrow, the higher the cost of borrowing. By 2020 the federal government will spend a projected $900 billion each year just to pay interest on our debt. That's more than what the U.S. spends right now on two wars, plus the Departments of Defense, Education, Energy, and Homeland Security combined." - Columnist Veronique de Rugy in the June issue of Reason magazine
Watch Reason's Adrian Moore Discuss Greece, California and Deficits on C-Span

We Are Out of Money
Also in the June issue, Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch details the "feedback loop in the media, where budget cut horror stories-which never mention how much state and local government spending skyrocketed in the years before the recession-mix seamlessly with editorial-page calls to spend still more money we don't have on government jobs we can't afford."
Watch Matt Welch Discuss Airline Regulation With John Stossel
Comparing Private Sector and Government Worker Salaries

Kagan Is Perfect, For Obama
Reason magazine's Radley Balko evaluates Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's record and writes, "Kagan may well be the perfect nominee for him [President Obama]. She's a cerebral academic who fits Washington's definition of a centrist: She's likely defer to government on both civil liberties and regulatory and commerce issues. And though libertarians allegedly share ground with Republicans on fiscal and regulatory issues and with Democrats on civil liberties issues, neither party cares enough about those particular issues to put up a fight for them. Which is why Kagan sailed through her first confirmation hearings, and is widely predicted to sail through the hearings for her nomination to the Supreme Court. Justice Stevens' reputation as a stalwart defender of civil liberties was probably overstated. Which makes it all the more disappointing that Obama's choice to replace him will almost certainly make the Court even less sympathetic to the rights of the accused. And taken with Obama's decision to replace Justice Souter with Sonia Sotomayor, a former prosecutor with a 'tough on crime' reputation, the candidate who touted his days as a community organizer for the powerless and dispossessed and who decried the criminal justice system's disproportionately harmful treatment of minorities and the poor during the campaign will now almost certainly leave the Supreme Court more law enforcement-friendly and more hostile to criminal defendants than he found it."

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