The Instigator
imabench
Con (against)
Losing
22 Points
The Contender
DanT
Pro (for)
Winning
25 Points

Can the US pay off its Debt in our lifetimes?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 11 votes the winner is...
DanT
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/18/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,263 times Debate No: 18852
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (11)

 

imabench

Con

Hello, I believe that the odds the US will pay off its entire debt through fiscal management and a balanced budget and years of generating a profit are small when compared to the odds that it will not be able to do just that.

He who accepts is the Pro and they will be arguing why it is probable (>50%) that the US can pay off its entire national debt within our lifetimes through fiscal management of its budget.

Pro CAN use the first round to begin their debate

4 rounds, 8000 characters, go nuts :)
DanT

Pro


The Average Life expectancy in the US is about 79; I'm 21 my opponent is 18, that gives us 58 years to eliminate the Debt.

The current total Public Debt Outstanding is $14,936,592,327,091.37
http://www.treasurydirect.gov...


Receipts, or Income, represents money that has been collected
Outlays, or expenses, represent money that has been spent
Net income = receipts - outlays

Surplus = Net income > 0
Deficit = Net income < 0

A Deficit represents money that is borrowed (or taken from savings) during a single year
A Debt is the total amount of money owed to lenders, which may result from accumulating deficits over many years.


In order to pay off the Debt one must maintain a surplus, and not borrow any more.

Now Divide the debt by 58 (the time limit) and you get $257,527,453,915.37

We need to maintain a $257,527,453,915.37 surplus, in order to pay off the debt.


In 2009 the federal government brought in tax receipts of about $2,105,000,000,000
http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu...

Since tax receipts has increased since than, and will continue to increase, let's make that the standard.


$2,105,000,000,000 - $257,527,453,915.37 = $1,847,472,546,084.63

So outlays must remain at $1,847,472,546,084.63 or under

The last time outlays was under $1,847,472,546,084.63 was the fiscal year of 2000 when outlays was $1,789,000,000,000; that year we also had a $236,200,000,000 surplus.
http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu...





We are more than capable of creating the needed surplus and maintaining it. We simply need to cut back on the wants, and focus on the needs.











Debate Round No. 1
imabench

Con

First off let me just state i completely agree with the Pro's definitions of the terms debts, deficits, outlays, etc.
I also agree that to pay off a debt you must maintain a surplus and not borrow any more.

The Pro uses some simple math to illustrate how to completely pay off the debt as of right now, the US government must maintain a surplus of just over $250 billion dollars every year until 2069 according to the (really cool) graph the Pro provided.

The Pro states that we must simply cut back on the "wants" and focus on the "needs"

I wont define the "wants" but I assume that Needs + Wants = Total Outlays

The Pro mentions that "outlays must remain at $1,847,472,546,084.63 or under" but according to
http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu......
Outlays have steadily increased fiscal year 2001, so as of 2009 total outlays were 3,517,000,000,000 and rising

Since Outlays show no sign of being reduced that means in order to reach the Pro's surplus of about $250 Billion the US would need to bring in well over $3.75 trillion in Income/Receipts the coming years....

The US is not projected to generate +$3.75 trillion until after 2015, and by 2015 expenses are projected to total
- $4.38 trillion. I believe that the Pro's statement of how "we are more than capable of creating a surplus" is rather far-fetched...

In the immediate future our national debt will increase at an a very alarming rate and that will add to our already enormous debt of $14.9 trillion. The increase in total debt will dramatically increase the annual surplus needed to balance out the debt because while the debt grows our lifetimes only grow shorter.

The Pro shows how only through years and years of a financial surplus could the US slowly pay off its entire national debt. But the last time the US had successive years of a budget surplus was during Clinton's final four years as president, and those years generated a total surplus of $559 billion over 4 years, or about $139.8 billion a year

The Pro states that we must cut back on the "wants" and focus on the "needs" but there are many many sources that show how in the coming years the US will only increase in the immediate and long term future....

http://acufinancial.com...
http://goldnews.bullionvault.com...
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com...
http://humblestudentofthemarkets.blogspot.com...
http://wmbriggs.com...
http://economicsonfire.com...

To summarize.....
1) The US does not have a recent history of having successive fiscal budget surpluses
2) US Expenses have mushroomed to a huge sum and show no sign of being reduced
3) In the immediate future we will see fiscal years where a great amount will be added to our national debt
4) It is unfeasible to believe that US income will eclipse expenses in the immediate future
DanT

Pro



The Outlays for the Fiscal Year of 2011 was $3,818.9 billion.

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com...









If we localize localize Healthcare, Welfare and Education we reduce the budget by $1,507.4 billion.

If we than eliminate all Foreign Aid from the Department of Defense we decrease the budget by another $55.2 billion




If we than localize Protection of biodiverity & landscape, recreational & sporting services, Housing development, and community development; we reduce another $79.2 billion from the budget.







Now if we than cut General Government, Defense, transportation, protection, Pensions, and other Spending by 17% percent, than the budget becomes $1,842.2 billion in outlays. These cuts can be in anything; salaries, letting employees go, defunding failed projects, or even capping the amount of resources used (paper, wood, water ect.)..








So as you can see it's more than possible to reduce the budget; we just need to cut out the waste.

Debate Round No. 2
imabench

Con

Could the Pro please expand on what he means when he states that "If we localize Healthcare, Welfare, and Education we reduce the budget by $1.5 Trillion"

The Pro uses several (still awesome) graphs to demonstrate where the government could cut billions from to reduce expenses. But these are all the parts of the budget the Pro wants to eliminate because he sees them as "wasteful"

$55.2 Billion of foreign aid from the Department of Defense
17% of the General Government
17% of Defense
17% Transportation
17% Protection
17% Pensions
17% other from cutting salaries, laying off workers, defunding projects, and capping resources
That leaves the total expenses of the US government at $1.8 Trillion

1) Some of these things sound rather important to me and I for one do not see pensions, defense, transportation as wasteful spending. Even though I personally only value some of these items listed, other people may value them too, and others may value different items altogether. So who gets to decide what is "wasteful" spending? Also I am not the most politically active person in the world, but if i were I would fight for some of these things you think should be cut, and people who ARE politically active are probably fighting for any of these items RIGHT NOW.

2) If there theoretically was a magical and wonderful right answer to what is necessary and what is wasteful spending, the political parties that govern this country probably would still value items that are considered "wasteful spending" and as long as they have the support of voters and stay in power they will ultimately determine what they feel is necessary spending, not people like you and me :(

3) Even if both parties agree that spending must be cut, both sides would be at each others throats trying to decide what should be cut. A few weeks ago the US credit rating was lowered by Standard & Poor, a credit rating agency. One of the reasons the US credit rating fell after both sides reached a spending compromise was that

"the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness,
stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political
institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic
challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a
negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011."

http://www.standardandpoors.com...

In other words, we were downgraded because our government is too divided/ weakened to adequately deal with the ongoing budget challenges even more than they originally thought.....

Lastly the Pro uses current statistics from 2011 expenses to identify what should be cut. Keep in mind though that some necessary spending are forecasted to increase over the next few years. Because of America's aging population programs such as Social Security and Medicare will only grow more expensive. With these necessary expenses just adding to the bill, we would have to cut even more from items and programs that the Pro listed above...

So to summarize
1) Everyone has a different idea of what should be cut, if anything at all
2) People will fight to protect spending in what they believe is necessary, and since everyone has a different opinion that would be difficult
3) Our government is also deeply divided on where to reduce spending from the budget
4) We have already seen how inefficient our government is at handling this crisis
5) I reaffirm my original point about how US expenses will only grow in the future
DanT

Pro

My opponent asked, "Could the Pro please expand on what he means when he states that "If we localize Health care, Welfare, and Education we reduce the budget by $1.5 Trillion""

By localizing, I am talking about transferring these organizations from the Federal Government to the State governments, since they are state powers in the first place.
The State Government could than choose to keep or eliminate them.


We don't need to be sending other countries $55.2 billion of military aid in cash and mercenaries; especially when are running up a debt and deficit in the trillions.

17% in cuts is not unreasonable.

If you want we could reduce the Defence budget by $335 billion instead, making it $574.6 billion (still the largest military budget in the world).

Either way, it's possible to reduce the budget.


Although outlays grow over time, so does receipts. And when the debt decreases the interest also decreased lowering the outlays.



It's more than possible to eliminate the deficit in our life-time.



Debate Round No. 3
imabench

Con

Localizing programs worth over a trillion dollars from the federal government to state governments does not subtract the costs of those programs from our expenses. Instead those expenses now become a burden on state budgets and the states now have to pay billions and billions of dollars MORE for programs we already have. Localizing such programs would throw the programs into disarray as now states could create restrictions and new laws for the same program that would differ from state to state. States could actually increase benefits people receive from the programs and make other changes to them that may only RAISE expenses for the same programs we have right now.

Transferring federal debt into state debt will not help us reduce our national debt because when the Constitution was adopted one of the agreements that came with creating a central government was that all state debts would be combined into one national debt that would then become the responsibility of the national central government to pay off. Localizing trillion dollars of programs will have no effect on national spending because states would now be massively in debt and since all debts are combined that would just add to the national debt.

The 55.2 Billion we are sending in aid overseas is in the form of reconstruction teams to Iraq and Afghanistan, training of police forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. these funds are being used to help Afghanistan and Iraq train their own military's and police forces so that US forces and troops dont have to do that job instead. the 55 billion is a short term investment that is going into our eventual withdrawal of thousands of troops from these countries....

http://fpc.state.gov... <- explains it all (skip towards the end the beginning is mostly a history of the Department of Defense)

The Pro states that 17% in cuts isn't unreasonable. That is purely an opinion. programs such as transportation, pensions, etc. are already underfunded on both the national and state level so cutting the programs by almost 20% would cause many long term problems that would cost money to repair, and that would also add to the national debt.

Cutting the defense budget by almost half is possible but as I said before the political parties in Washington would viciously fight over what parts, if any, should be cut and which should be preserved. The point of having such a big military budget isnt so that we could simply have bragging rights about.... Military budgets are large so that America can have a very technologically advanced military that could respond to any military or humanitarian crisis anywhere in the world and also to take necessary measures to preserve the integrity and safety of America's borders, assets, and its citizens.....

Either way it IS possible to reduce the budget but both options would be a long process with much fighting on both sides between the people, policy makers, Democrats, Republicans, etc over what should be cut and what shouldnt. Also both options have ramifications that could cause severe long term problems in the future that could cost even more money that was earned from the budget cuts in the first place.

For those who skipped this entire debate let me summarize the debate so far....

Round 1)
Me - creating the debate
Pro - defining terms of the debt and using math to create a timeline of how we could pay off the debt

Round 2)
Me - Showing how decades of a budget surplus are unlikely, how expenses will only increase in the future, and how revenues will not be able to offset the expenses.
Pro - Localizing trillion dollar programs and severely cutting others to eliminate "wasteful" spending

Round 3)
Me - Highlighting how what some see as wasteful spending others may see as necessary and showing how people will support preserving programs they value. Showing how the government is already ill-equipped when identifying what is "wasteful" spending. Restating how our debt will only grow in the near future
Pro - Transferring programs to state authority would reduce the national debt, stating how the defense budget could simply be cut almost on half with ease, and arguing that as spending grows, so does income

Round 4)
Me - Explaining how localizing trillion dollars of programs doesnt reduce spending and still contributes to the national debt, justifying foreign aid, arguing how 17% cuts in many programs is a very large and potentially dangerous amount, re affirming the point that such cuts to programs would be a difficult and lenghty process...
Pro - TBA

This is my last round so let me just state every point ive made so far and end on that...
reasons the US will not be able to pay off the national debt within our lifetimes
1) To do so we would need years and years of a surplus, something the US does not have a history of
2) Drastic increase in spending in the near future would only add to the debt
3) Income generated from taxes will not be able to keep up with expenses in the short term or long term future
4) Cutting programs would be problematic since there is disagreement over what is wasteful and what is necessary
5) People with opposing values will still fight to protect them which would make cutting programs long and unpopular
6) The government is already deeply divided over what should be kept and what should be cut from the budget
7) The government has already proven they are unable to handle the debt crisis
8) Reorganizing federal programs into state programs would not eliminate expenses and possibly be more costly in the future

I thank the Pro for a very awesome debate
DanT

Pro

My opponent claims that localizing the certain Government programs would increase the spending on those programs, but he is wrong.

If you localize the program you divide up the cost according to which states make use of the programs more. Some states may keep the programs, some may alter them, and some may scrap them.


My opponent claims, "when the Constitution was adopted one of the agreements that came with creating a central government was that all state debts would be combined into one national debt that would then become the responsibility of the national central government to pay off."

This is historically inaccurate. The Federal Debt was first created in 1790 when congress decided to assume state war debt. This did not eliminate states from owning their debt, as many states still hold their own state debt separate from the federal debt.

The State debt and the Federal debt are 2 very different things. The US is a Federation of States, and because of that we have 2 debts, our State Debt and our Federal Debt; collectively e have 51 debts. In order for the Federal Government to be responsible for State debt the Federal Government must first assume state debt through legislation.


localizing Federal programs would eliminate the US deficit, but state deficits may increase. The states could either raise taxes, or eliminate the program.


This brings me to another very important feature. The flat tax.

According to the World Bank The Gross National Income of the US is $14,011 billion, as of 2009.
http://www.google.com...


The total corporate and individual income tax receipts was $928.5 billion, as of 2009
http://www.taxpolicycenter.org...

$928.5 billion / $14,011 billion = 0.66

So a 7% flat income tax would produce more tax receipts than the progressive income tax.

A 14% flat tax would produce $1 trillion more in tax revenue than the progressive income tax. If needed this could even help contribute to reducing the deficit. A 18% flat tax would be more than enough so we don't even have to localize health care welfare or education.



My opponent claims, "programs such as transportation, pensions, etc. are already under funded on both the national and state level"

This is purely opinion, many believe government employees are receiving too much in pensions, and that they should decrease their involvement in transportation.

Again we should not focus on the wants, only the needs.

My opponent claims that eliminating aid to Iraq and Afghanistan will cause problems, I disagree. We don't need to fund their military and their police; we simply choose to do so. It's a waste of money and resource, that we don't have. They are sovereign states capable of financing their own security forces.


We are more than capable of eliminating the debt within our lifetime.


For those who skipped this entire debate let me summarize the debate so far....

Round 1)
Con - creating the debate
Pro - defining terms of the debt and using math to create a time line of how it's possible to pay off the debt in our lifetime.

Round 2)
Con - claiming that expenses will only increase in the future.
Pro - Showing how revenues will also increase in the future, and localizing trillion dollar programs and cutting other programs to eliminate wasteful spending

Round 3)
Con - claiming that politicians can't agree, and criticizing cuts.
Pro - Showing how cuts are possible.

Round 4)
Con - claiming that localizing programs increases spending, and claiming that state debts are national debts.
Pro - Showing that state debts and national debts are two separate things and that a flat tax could help increase revenues.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by drafterman 5 years ago
drafterman
This debate is purty.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
"Can" and "Will" are two very different things. I think Pro should have a big advantage.
Posted by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
crap, good point
Posted by innomen 5 years ago
innomen
resolutions shouldn't be in the form of a question...just sayin'.
Posted by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
drafterman = I had a bit of a problem trying to word out what im trying to say. But basically my argument is about how the odds are against the US paying off its entire debt within our lifetimes if that clarifies anything :)
Posted by DanT 5 years ago
DanT
Jackson paid off the debt, for about a year.
Posted by drafterman 5 years ago
drafterman
There are two statements being tossed around here. Whether it's "possible" and whether it's "probably (>50%)." I agree that the latter would be hard to prove, but just showing that it is possible is rather easy.
Posted by Rusho 5 years ago
Rusho
the U.S. has been in debt since it was founded... the pro side is gunna have a hard time proving that we can get out of debt.
11 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by 1dustpelt 5 years ago
1dustpelt
imabenchDanTTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Same as LordKnuckle
Vote Placed by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
imabenchDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Although I think pro won, I am countering willow's unjustified vote bomb. Please demonstrate how con had poor conduct and grammar.
Vote Placed by Willoweed 5 years ago
Willoweed
imabenchDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I felt that pro proved that it is possible to pay off the debt
Vote Placed by bozotheclown 5 years ago
bozotheclown
imabenchDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I have to go with con, even though they had the easier burden of proof.
Vote Placed by GWindeknecht1 5 years ago
GWindeknecht1
imabenchDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I thought Con generally, but only marginally, made better arguments. Pro used more sources though.
Vote Placed by Kethen 5 years ago
Kethen
imabenchDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I believe Pro is right but I think Con did a lot of good research.
Vote Placed by innomen 5 years ago
innomen
imabenchDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Nice debate. Pro had the edge in argumentation and presentation - do not form a resolution as a question.
Vote Placed by Lordknukle 5 years ago
Lordknukle
imabenchDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The resolution clearly stated if the US "can" pay of its debt. Pro successfully proved it. Even though it is unlikely, it is possible.
Vote Placed by seraine 5 years ago
seraine
imabenchDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Think I'm going to have to go Con here. Though it is perfectly possible for drastic cuts to pay off our debt in our lifetime, politics in general would make that almost impossible.
Vote Placed by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
imabenchDanTTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I don't see that we have any interest in paying off the debt. Not going to happen. But Pro shows that it could happen, so I should vote for him. But Drafterman makes the excellent point that the issue is whether we probably will pay it off, so I should vote Con. But check shows the resolution is actually whether we probably can, not whether we probably will. I vote Pro.