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Diminishing returns

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Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009
 

For all the talk in Washington about reforming health care while somehow, magically, containing the nation's burgeoning debt, precious little attention has focused on the prime drivers of the nation's spending -- entitlements.

For the first time in history national debt has passed $12 trillion. As more Treasury securities are sold to finance the federal deficit -- which reached a record $1.4 trillion this year -- these securities will compete with private securities. Private investment, as a result of government borrowing, will decrease.

Rather than pass the mounting bill to future generations, Congress must address the triple tsunamis: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending. Notes Nicola Moore of The Heritage Foundation, as Social Security IOUs are redeemed and health care costs drive up expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid, publicly held debt by 2050 will exceed 320 percent of gross domestic product, based on Congressional Budget Office figures.

But unfortunately, unlike an irresponsible homeowner who maxes out his credit, Congress needs only to vote itself a higher credit limit. The House last week approved boosting that ceiling by $290 billion.

Doing so without addressing the drain from existing entitlements -- never mind government's health care ambitions -- digs deeper the hole of this nation's despair.

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