November 20, 2018

Hey Obama, Where Did My Ten Trillion Dollars Go?

So former President Obama is back out on the campaign trail. Maybe this time the press will hold him to account with some tough questions (spoiler: don’t count on it).

Here’s a quick question for our former president, and a possible tagline for the GOP midterm elections. “Hey Obama, where did my ten trillion dollars go?” In other words, what exactly did Obama accomplish with his extraordinary orgy of federal spending that doubled the national debt, raising it from $10 trillion to $20 trillion?

Yes, I know, the Wall Street downturn, the never-ending recession, and the limp recovery practically mandated that the government open the spending taps (or at least provided a decent excuse for it). But where did it all go? What tangible result do we have in return for this unprecedented deluge of red ink? There was no Louisiana Purchase, or defeat of Hitler in World War II. It just seemed like business as usual and then we woke up drowning in debt.

Most Obama defenders, after a little harrumphing, would point out that every POTUS increases the debt, and besides Obama inherited an economy in tatters, and a Wall Street crisis that required a nearly trillion-dollar TARP bank bailout. But in actual fact, the TARP loan was fully repaid, with interest. The Feds actually made a profit on that deal, so the net cost of TARP was $0.

The 2009 Stimulus Package, on the other hand, was real spending, some $700 billion that went out into the ether and never came back. As Obama acknowledged, there were precious few shovel ready jobs, and most of the money went to various pet government projects. Can you point to any? I can’t either.

I regularly travel to mainland China where the evidence of government spending is everywhere; gleaming new airports, high-speed trains, huge mass transit systems, a vast network of new superhighways. We didn’t get any of that stuff, and Americans still struggle through public transportation facilities that look more at home in third-world countries. What a missed opportunity!

What else did we get? Student loans are one of the few “investments” the Federal government makes where we actually receive an asset in return. The current student debt held by the Feds is approaching $1.5 trillion. Forbes recently referred to the poor quality of this portfolio, with a delinquency rate over 10%, as a “crisis.”

So what does all this federal debt mean to the average American? Allocated per capita, Obama’s $10 trillion equates to an additional $30,700 in debt for every man, woman and child living in the USA. (Should we count non-citizen undocumented aliens? Or are they off the hook for this kind of thing?) For the average family size of 2.58 people, that averages just over $79,000 per household.

Considering that the median U.S. housing cost is $200,000 (which sounds cheap to these California ears), that’s the equivalent of a 40% mortgage for each household. But remember, we’re only including Obama’s most recent share of the debt; adding in the full $20 trillion in obligations brings us to a staggering $160,000 in federal debt per household.

Think of it: that $160,000 in debt represents 80% of the value of the average U.S. home, a loan to value ratio already in excess of the traditional 70% LTV maximum. And that’s just for the national debt. And many households don’t even own a home, and those that do already have a mortgage. And most have student and credit card debts as well.

And keep in mind the $20 trillion in Federal debt is just the tip of the iceberg; we’re not including other contingent liabilities like Federal pension obligations or loan guarantees that might double or triple the overall debt levels. Nor does this include state and local debt; and many cities and states have debt levels that make the Feds look like penny pinchers. So if you add it all up — it’s just too depressing to even think about!

Jay Latimer is an international businessman, writer and investor who has worked in investment banking in New York, Hong Kong, and Beijing.

Source: American Thinker