Veterans, Debt and Politics

Is debt the real enemy?


That’s a typical question veterans are asked when surveys are conducted by consumer credit professionals. According to statistics from hundreds of US military service personnel and their spouses, 19% of respondents are dissatisfied with their current financial situation, 26% are satisfied with their current financial situation, and 55% of respondents have neutral feelings about their current debt situation. Recent trends tend to indicate that general household expenses have been rising, and the number of bounced checks is also on the up among veterans.

Junior enlisted members of the Armed Forces indicate that they have had their Internet, telephone, or cable cutoff (12% of respondents), while some 3% were subject to heat/electricity/water shutoffs. It appears that military personnel have a much greater propensity to use credit cards than their civilian counterparts. The stats reflect that 91% of military families have at least one credit card, versus 69% of their civilian counterparts. A less flattering statistic indicates that 16% of civilians have $10,000 + in credit card debt while 27% of military families have $10,000 + in credit card debt. When higher debt figures are considered ($20,000 +), 7% of civilians can lay claim to that inauspicious burden, while 10% of military families are highly indebted.

What Is the Debt Ceiling and Why Does It Matter?

The debt ceiling is a reference to the difference between what the US government needs to spend, and how much the US government has available to spend. Throughout our history, presidents have raised the debt ceiling to allow the federal government to continue to finance its expenditures. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no aversion to raising the debt ceiling with Republican or Democrat presidents – they are both equally guilty for their own reasons. The president who raised the debt ceiling the least on the listing conducted by leading debt management resource, is President Harry Truman. During his term in office, he raised the debt ceiling twice. President Franklin D. Roosevelt raised the debt ceiling 3 times, much like President John F. Kennedy.

The big surprise comes with President Barack Obama. He was the most liberal of all US presidents to date, and he was a big spender, yet he raised the debt ceiling only 6 times, just like President Bill Clinton. The Iraq wars, Afghanistan operations, and other military escapades necessitated bigger budgets by the federal government. In this vein, President George Bush Senior and his son President George Bush Junior raised the debt ceiling 9 times, and 7 times respectively. It comes as no surprise that the greatest non-conflict scenario was between the worlds two premier superpowers – Russia and the United States.

During President Ronald Reagan’s terms in office, he raised the debt ceiling a total of 18 times. He’s also credited with being the most fiscally conservative, responsible, and successful Republican lawmaker of all time. His efforts at curtailing Russian dominance with crippling US investment in space programs is largely credited with the dismantling and degrading of the Russian military machine. That the Russians couldn’t keep up with US spending effectively ended the Cold War and ushered in an era of US military, economic and political supremacy.

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