What is the true state of the union?
The budgetary health of the federal government, the prosperity of the American people, the prospects for the nation’s future and the state of America’s national security are all in significant jeopardy.
The nation’s finances fit the technical definition of bankruptcy. The national debt of $17,338,229,800,000 exceeds America’s Gross Domestic Product of $17 trillion. Combined with an annual deficit of $680 billion, this means that the U.S. has no realistic way to pay its debt under current conditions.
Under the Obama Administration, the debt has doubled. In January 2009, the total stood at $10.6 trillion. In October of 2013, it hit $16.7 trillion — an increase of 57 percent.
A salient question is what did all this spending—including the $787 billion stimulus package-- buy?
Since 2009, federal welfare has jumped 41%, costing taxpayers $193 billion per year. The increase in spending in this area has clearly failed. The poverty rate remains unchanged at approximately 15%. 46 million Americans live in poverty, and the median income remains over 8% lower than was in 2007.
America has vast unmet domestic needs. Its infrastructure remains in poor condition. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives the nation a D+.
Unemployment remains unacceptably high.
The Department of Labor Statistics’ U-6 figure is a dismal 13.1%., a figure that understates the true level of the dilemma since the national employment participation rate is at a four-decade low of 62.8%. Additionally, many of those who have found work and are counted as employed are actually working only part-time. Seven out of eight new employees under President Obama work at part-time jobs.
There has been a $2,535 drop in median income since June 2009, according to Sentier Research
The United States is less secure than it was five years ago. The significant increase in federal spending has not benefited the military. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “In calendar year 2012, military spending declined from $711 billion to $668 billion. In dollar terms, this was the largest decline since 1991.President Barack Obama's budget proposes cutting security spending to 2.4% of GDP in 2023. This would represent the lowest allocation of GDP to defense spending in the post-World War II era.”
While the US cuts back, its potential adversaries have drastically accelerated their spending. The National Interest notes that “Russia is now engaged in its largest military buildup since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago, with major increases in defense spending budgeted each year to 2020.”
A Foreign Policy article noted that China's official 2012 defense budget is $106 billion, an 11 percent increase over last year and a fourfold increase from a decade ago. The Pentagon places China's total military spending at somewhere between $120 and $180 billion [although this may exclude funding from undisclosed sources such as the military’s vast involvement in profit-making endeavors.]
Al Qaeda has rebounded, and now controls more territory than ever in the Middle East, It has strengthened in Africa, and its affiliate Taliban stands poised to make significant gains in Afghanistan.
In the economically and technologically crucial area of space technology, the United States remains in limbo. The last manned mission aboard an American-launched craft took place in July of 2011. NASA may not put astronauts in space with its own craft until 2021. While the U.S. retreats, China has moved quickly forward. The vast wealth from space-based assets on the moon and beyond, which will play an important role in the world economy within the next fifty years, is receding away from America’s grasp.
Politically, the nation appears more disunited than at any time since the civil war. The Justice Department’s refusal to investigate numerous official scandals, particularly clear cases of voter intimidation, diminishes faith in American democracy, as does the IRS harassment of Tea Party groups.
The State of the Union in 2014 poses a serious challenge for the nation’s future.