Last week Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) was mad as hell about the national debt and he wasn't going to take it anymore. People across the political spectrum in elected office and everyday Americans have come to agree that our debt and deficits are out of control and something needs to be done. In that sense they're on Senator Bunning's side. They're likely not on his side about filibustering a bill that would extend emergency unemployment benefits to millions of Americans who cannot wait.
Bunning's response to widespread criticism that this was "not the time for this" is perhaps a good one. We can't keep saying everything is an emergency -- which we frequently do -- and kick the serious conversation about spending and deficits further down the road. As we know, Senator Bunning ultimately ended his one man filibuster, and the bill passed with bipartisan support. But he did manage to do what tactics like these are meant to do, draw attention to an important issue that otherwise would never get heard.
But with all this talk about the debt including a never-ending series of bipartisan commissions (the latest of which was announced last month), where is the action? Well we don't have to wait for Washington. Here's a little known fact, there is something you can do right now to decrease the national debt: you can make a tax deductible donation that goes directly to pay down the debt. Last year this program, which has been in existence since 1961, only took in $3 million, and the largest single donation ever made in this program was $3.5 million. Hardly anyone knows about this program and the government rarely publicizes it.
Understandably, giving any more money to the government than you are required to give isn't the most popular idea. However, if people are really concerned about fiscal policy, this is something you can do to back it up. If concerned Americans could channel their fiscal anger into this effort, imagine the results... What if at the next tea party convention -- made up of people who profess to be incredibly concerned about debt -- they do something and gather money from attendees to pay down the debt? What if the government initiated a text $10 to your cell phone to pay down the debt campaign? What if the government met with wealthy individuals like Warren Buffett and asked them to consider making large donations and even encouraging other private donors to match it. Private public partnerships have been instituted across federal initiatives from education to energy, there is certainly a case for it in bringing down the national debt.
I know this won't get rid of our debt completely. We can't fundraise our way out of debt,
Washington needs to take action as well. But our debt is so high that almost any action Congress takes won't come close to eliminating the debt for years to come. However, if we all pitch in and if a "fundraise for the debt" program is run as aggressively as a major not for profit fundraising effort, we could certainly make some inroads in bringing the debt down, and we could help.
By clicking here you can make a donation to pay down the debt right now.
Follow David D. Burstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidburstein