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Nov 24

Written by: Diana West
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 7:16 AM 

Glenn Beck opened his show yesterday with the lead story of the New York Times -- "Wave of Debt Payments Face US Government" -- which underscored and repeated many of Beck's longtime themes of financial dysfunction leading to collapse via continued government borrowing to spend on a colossal scale.

Well, the Times didn't come right out and say that, exactly, but what other conclusion is there to draw from, for example, the projected $700 billion Americans are expected to pay in 2019  just to service the $12 trillion deficit. That $700 billion -- which equals one stinkin' "stimulus package" for nothing -- is a figure Beck highlighted in his book "Common Sense" published five months ago. And that only goes, according to the Times, "even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher."The Times continues:

The surge in borrowing over the last year or two is widely judged to have been a necessary response to the financial crisis and the deep recession. and there is still a raging debate over how aggressively to bring down deficits over the next few years.

"Widely judged" necessary by on the Left, at least since George W. Bush left office. Remember, the House GOP voted unanimously against Obama's stimulus plan in January. And they own the "raging denate" against deficit spending with, for example, the recent Senate GOP vote against health care last weekend. 

"But there is little doubt that the United States’ long-term budget crisis is becoming too big to postpone," the Times writes, particularly as interest rates appear ready to rise.

The current low rates on the country’s debt were caused by temporary factors that are already beginning to fade. One factor was the economic crisis itself, which caused panicked investors around the world to plow their money into the comparative safety of Treasury bills and notes. Even though the United States was the epicenter of the global crisis, investors viewed Treasury securities as the least dangerous place to park their money.

Reflex action based on the past, not the future.

On top of that, the Fed used almost every tool in its arsenal to push interest rates down even further. It cut the overnight federal funds rate, the rate at which banks lend reserves to one another, to almost zero. And to reduce longer-term rates, it bought more than $1.5 trillion worth of Treasury bonds and government-guaranteed securities linked to mortgages.

With what -- clam shells?

Those conditions are already beginning to change. Global investors are shifting money into riskier investments like stocks and corporate bonds, and they have been pouring money into fast-growing countries like Brazil and China.

The Fed, meanwhile, is already halting its efforts at tamping down long-term interest rates. Fed officials ended their $300 billion program to buy up Treasury bonds last month, and they have announced plans to stop buying mortgage-backed securities by the end of next March.

Eventually, though probably not until at least mid-2010, the Fed will also start raising its benchmark interest rate back to more historically normal levels.

So voters won't be feeling the inevitable pinch by Election Day 2010. Let's hope brilliant leaders persuade them to imagine it.

The United States will not be the only government competing to refinance huge debt. Japan, Germany, Britain and other industrialized countries have even higher government debt loads, measured as a share of their gross domestic product, and they too borrowed heavily to combat the financial crisis and economic downturn. As the global economy recovers and businesses raise capital to finance their growth, all that new government debt is likely to put more upward pressure on interest rates.

Even a small increase in interest rates has a big impact. An increase of one percentage point in the Treasury’s average cost of borrowing would cost American taxpayers an extra $80 billion this year — about equal to the combined budgets of the Department of Energy and the Department of Education....

The White House estimates that the government will have to borrow about $3.5 trillion more over the next three years.

Why isn't this a scandal? How can legislators even think of passing the government takeover of health care, fr'instance?

On top of that, the Treasury has to refinance, or roll over, a huge amount of short-term debt that was issued during the financial crisis. Treasury officials estimate that about 36 percent of the government’s marketable debt — about $1.6 trillion — is coming due in the months ahead.

To lock in low interest rates in the years ahead, Treasury officials are trying to replace one-month and three-month bills with 10-year and 30-year Treasury securities. That strategy will save taxpayers money in the long run. But it pushes up costs drastically in the short run, because interest rates are higher for long-term debt.

I don't quite get this, but I can tell it's bad.

Adding to the pressure, the Fed is set to begin reversing some of the policies it has been using to prop up the economy. Wall Street firms advising the Treasury recently estimated that the Fed’s purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities pushed down long-term interest rates by about one-half of a percentage point. Removing that support could in itself add $40 billion to the government’s annual tab for debt service.

This month, the Treasury Department’s private-sector advisory committee on debt management warned of the risks ahead.

“Inflation, higher interest rate and rollover risk should be the primary concerns,” declared the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, a group of market experts that provide guidance to the government, on Nov. 4.

“Clever debt management strategy,” the group said, “can’t completely substitute for prudent fiscal policy.”

Irritatingly understated statement of the day,

Meanwhile, this year debt interest alone comes to $202 billion, which ain't hay.

Or maybe it is. Maybe cotton, hay and rags is really what we're dealing with here.

Benign interpretation: Obama knows not what he wrought(s)? As a Marxist ideologue surrounded by Marxist ideologues, it might be possible he is a prisoner of hothouse theory who has failed to learn the repeated lessons of the real world where such theories have repeatedly failed.

There's a nefarious interpretation, too: Obama knows exactly what he's doing insofar as bringing this nation to a crisis, a breaking point of faith in institutions long corrupted by waste, fraud, abuse and selling off our birthright to China and other nations. What next? Dear Leader must wrest even more control of the government, his government, to restor order, his order.... 

Your choice. Or is it his?

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