DEFENSE EDUCATION FORUM
ROBERT FEIDLER • DIRECTOR, ROA strategic defense education
Fiscal Threat (Part 2)
Policymakers must address not only short-term fiscal issues
but equally important long-term ones.
y article in the October 2008 issue of The Of- who are not held to account for their imprudence. In the long-
ficer described the long-term fiscal threat that term crisis, it is this generation that reaps the benefits of the
the nation—more specifically, our children—will deferred debt and entitlements—and it is our children and fu-
face. It pointed out that the federal budget includes manda- ture generations who will pay the heavy price or collapse.
tory (interest on the debt) expenditures and entitlement (So- Our current financial system lacked adequate transparency
cial Security, Medicare/Medicaid) expenditures that make that resulted in an inability to determine risk. In the long-term
up almost two-thirds of the budget and are growing. The crisis, we also have a lack of transparency with items amount-
remaining slightly more than one-third of the budget is made ing to trillions of dollars that are kept off the federal balance
up of defense spending (about $650 billion this year) and all sheets, including the recently added bailout-related debt. We
other federal government functions (infrastructure, educa- have departed from fundamental principles of fiscal prudence.
tion, research, and so Without meaningful reform, we are headed into an abyss.
on), and it is shrink-
Our policymakers have been ing. The unfunded li- What You Can Do
absorbed in efforts to address ability we face to pay Demand that our leadership address the problem. That is
easier said than done. Congress and the presidential candi-
the near-term crisis created for what has been
promised over the dates simply will not discuss the long-term fiscal issue even
by the housing, credit, and years now stands at though they are aware of the facts. The prescriptions are
simultaneously complex but also straightforward: spend
financial market turbulence. almost $54 trillion. within our means, impose budget controls, review the tax
The threat to fu-
But they must also consider ture defense budgets system, eliminate ineffective or l