As I have stated before in this space, I am not an economist. Far from it. I’m a creative writer. Usually, creativity and finances don’t go together well. (For example, I believe the U.S. Congress would like to ask Hunter Biden some questions about some creative monetary manipulations right now.) But that’s another story. This one is about the looming debt ceiling facing the country.

Reading about what’s being discussed between opposing sides is enough to give anyone a major headache. I passed my Intro to Econ course in college only by begging the professor to consider his having made a slight mathematical error in his grade computations to the betterment of my class standing. With that financial background, I generally reach for the Tylenol bottle just after reading a budget bill headline.

If I’m comprehending things correctly now, though, it seems that discretionary spending is at the heart of the currently raging money battle. Nobody apparently cares that the proposed $6.8 trillion fiscal 2024 budget is something on the order of $3.5 or $4 trillion more than what the IRS took in this past year. But, hey, why quibble over something like that? It’s much more fun to haggle over everything except Social Security and Medicare. (Those two large budget items are hopefully sacrosanct again for this upcoming year. Hey, it’s not like the recipients paid into the systems for 40 years or more. Sheesh.)

At present, the Biden Administration wants to add $1.9 trillion in discretionary spending on things such as Pre-K, childcare, and more healthcare, to name a few. House Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy says his merry band of budget busters wants to cut discretionary spending back to the 2022 level of $1.66 trillion.

According to reports, Republicans also want no changes to the current tax rates and a repeal of a few items already approved in the Inflation Reduction Act, such as clean energy tax credits and spending. Meanwhile, the White House wants to eliminate some fossil fuel, digital currency, and other tax breaks. Plus, expand the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, raise corporate income taxes, increase other business taxes, and force billionaires to pony up chunks of change for types of income I know nothing about (not being a billionaire).

There’s more too. Republicans want to repeal Biden’s student debt cancellation, expand work requirements for Medicaid, food stamps and other welfare programs, repeal the $80 billion in IRS funding, rescind unused COVID-19 relief funds, and modify regulations regarding the permitting and leasing of energy projects.

Tut-tut-tut, says the opposition. Biden, in addition to keeping all of the above, wants free Pre-K education and childcare, free community college, a national paid family and medical leave program, and more unspecified higher education spending. Along with those there would be an expansion of the Affordable Care Act subsidies and coverage and other long-term care spending.

Not being a financial expert, as previously mentioned, I’m not sure what would be the right way to proceed. What I am sure of, though, is that while Republicans are talking about spending $1.6 trillion discretionally and the White House would prefer $1.9 trillion, the difference between them when that much money is at stake is basically just a rounding error. I’ll bring it up again. Is anyone else mildly upset that both parties are talking about spending a few trillion more than We the People ponied up in taxes last year?

I did pay attention long enough in Econ class to figure out that Column A (Revenues) had to, at the end of the day, be equal to Column B (Expenditures) if an entity was going to stay solvent.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but at your house, if you don’t have the money for something, most of time you just don’t buy it, right? Or if you need to take out a bank loan or load a purchase onto a credit card, you tend to have some idea of when you might be able to pay it off, right? In virtually every report I’ve read of late, there isn’t one mention of how the rising federal deficit is going to be dealt with. (Well, besides taxing the rich. But I’m pretty sure not even a few hundred colleagues of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have deep enough pockets to help there.

I think Congress and Administration officials could benefit greatly by taking a class like Professor Gray’s Intro to Econ. They just need to pay stricter attention to detail than did I. (By the way, I may still have my textbook handy if needed. It’s practically brand new.)

©MMXXIII. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer