What are your thoughts on this report -- and on Obama’s vow to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term in office?
I thought for an hour program it created important questions on how, why the government faces a Debt Crisis. The debt problem has many causes be it health care, defense, social security costs.
Both parties are equally to blame to the current fiscal situation in the United States. In the 1960s, Democrat LBJ wanted a war on poverty and a south east asia war. In the 1980s, GOP Reagan wanted huge defense spending with huge tax cuts and in the 2000s, GOP President Bush wanted both expanded welfare entitlements and to fight wars in the Middle-East.
Now Americans face a potential Argentina type debt crisis that will destroy their hopes and dreams for the future. As a nation new solutions to entitlement program can be found that may involve a mixture of public and private investments. Young people need to be brought into the debate progress for they will have to the live with the consequences. Midnight is here and to do nothing is suicide.
Santa Clarita, Ca
As always, your Frontline program on our nation's debt was thought provoking and well done. Why won't our politicians confront the 800 lb gorilla in the kitchen?
Social Security must be seen as a national insurance plan and it ought not be viewed as an entitlement. It is not a savings or pension plan. Yes, every senior who needs the support of the plan should receive benefits. But how many seniors receive benefits who have the personal financial means to take care of themselves? My elderly father-in-law put it best: "I don't need the government's money. I'd rather have the government invest in the future of this country: our children." If Social Security (and our government's solvency)is going to survive, we must confront the need for means testing.
I was shocked while watching "Ten Trillion and Counting". It was heavily slanted against the Republicans and seemed over critical of past Republican presidents. This type of biased coverage seems unlike Frontline. I have always counted on a balanced view from Frontline and there was no balanced view of this particular segment. It's as if PBS is pandering to the Democrats in order to secure funding. Please get back to your roots and show boths sides of the story in a neutral, logical tone.
While there's a whole host of variables out there to look at when looking at the current economic mess we're in, I for one, appreciated the fact that Frontline's Trillion focused in on fiscal policy. And Frontline shed some much needed light on the debt (versus the deficit), how and from whom our government borrows money and the vulnerabilities that presents to our future.
I do agree with another blogger, however, that knowing how our debt and deficit compares as a percentage of GNP would have helped provide further perspective.
"Ten Trillion and Counting" gave PBS another opportunity to jump on the "hate Bush" bandwagon. Gee whiz, he's retired. Quit blaming him for every ill the country faces. This report would have done well to concentrate on the Obama budget and the trillion dollar a year deficits it promises for years and years to come. His spending so outpaces the Bush administration years that one wonders why Frontline felt obligated to spend most of the program on the sins of our last President. God knows the new one is going to make him look like a frugal person, skinflint even. The liberal bias in the media is once again on full display. PBS - why the heck are we still spending tax dollars on this?
I can't thank you enough for this report. I, like so many others have felt so frustrated and overwhelemed in my attempts to understand the current financial meltdown, much less what we need to do about it. I feel for the first time that the dots have been connected. I understand exactly now why increasing preventative health care, growing our economy in the areas of energy and education are not only good things, but vital to the financial health and sustainability of our future. This kind of careful consideration, responsible exploration of the issues and facts and the skill in laying it all out are invaluable contributions to our democracy.
Fort Worth, Texas
I agree with Michael Hermon from Salt Lake City. No one ever talks about the profits being made by all the players involved, much of it with the insurance companies themselves.
What is also not talked about are the amount of people who use the emergency room as their clinic and who are usually not insured and do not pay the bill. People are so afraid of not being politically correct and offending others that the real issues never get solved.
I think the root causes need to be addressed before any glossed over changes are made.
FRONTLINE's editors respond:
Click here for more on rising health care costs and ideas on how to get them under control.
Frontline does two things very well:1. It tells a well connected and accurate narrative about current issues in our country.2. It creates these narratives quickly so that the public can digest and act upon their conclusions while the issue is still in the public sphere.
After watching 10 Trillion and Counting online, I followed the link to technorati where I read what people were saying about it in the blogosphere. There was one unescapable conclusion: the public feels as if Frontline didn't go far enough. While the details vary, the conclusion is the same: the problems are far larger and more complex then anyone seems to be able to sort out. This story connected Social Security and Health Care to the problem. Others have connected spending on defense, government waste, energy scarcity, and environmental destruction. Clearly these and thousands of other issues are all connected. I wish Frontline would examine what the alternatives are if/when all of these interconnected systems start to fail. While is seems like a grim topic, I am amazed at how many people have created solutions to address this. Please connect their stories with the national narrative. We need something to work towards if we can't fix this mess.
Not a good report I have to say. Why did the frontline reporters rely exclusively on (business) journalists (NYT, economist, WSJ) and a bunch of think tank wise guys.Perhaps because "real" economists like renowed economics Professors from America's top universities wouldn't paint quite that dark of a picture which the authors were looking for ??These think tank "experts" (f.e. brookings inst., CAP, cato) are at think tanks for a reason. Because they're not competent enough to actually get a real professorship at a real university. I would've loved to hear from real luminaries on the matter like Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz, Lester Thurow or whoever. Also talkin about absolute figures like 10 Trio. and this and that is utterly misleading. If you see a graph on how the debt has skyrocketed over the last 50 years that tells you nothing when the economy also over that same period has doubled or trippled in GDP. Anyway, nowhere is there a mention that in comparison to the other great economies of the world the US debt is actually rather modest in % of GDP, well below f.e. germany's 75% or so (as of yet) and a far cry from japanese 180% levels, and they are still not in ruins.
We need to remember we are a community. "Socialized medicine" is not a dirty word. It is a reasonable way to assure access to care for all of us. We need to shift our focus to health maintenance and preventive care. We'd spend less on expensive interventions if we spent more on preventing conditions that lead to chronic health problems. I'd like health care reform to include incentives for physicians and nurse practitioners to go into primary care, and for governments to support more local clinics that would make it easier for people to access that care. Entitlement is not a pejorative, and health care is not a privilege--and I am willing to pay more to be sure all Americans receive its benefits.
Deborah H. Webber
Your report on the debt was staggering. I believe it is high time to institute a balanced budget amendment to the Consitution. The past 18-20 years have shown that the Congress has no heart in controlling spending during down times or maying down the debt in good times no matter which party is in power. An amendment would force responsibility onto an unwilling Congress. We need to do something before its way too late.
I got the impression from several of the interviewee that they were emphasizing too much on the role of the "entitlement programs" in creating the mess we are in. Sure, we seniors are entitled to social security and medicare, as we were forced to pay into them during a lifetime of work. Those programs are the lifeline for our old citizens who in this day and age have lost all other support system. No one I know receiving social security can live off of it alone. As for medicare, the problem lies in the ineficiency of our health care system. Other industrialized nations have socialized medicine for yound and old, and still are doing better than us.The blame lies squarely on our so called leaders, who neglected investing in our country and distracted us with a costly and unjustified war, as well as our greedy corporations , who outsourced our jobs , and let foreign countries that were ten years ago known as underdeveloped nations, effectively own us.
santa cruz, california
People like to throw blame around. But it seems most clear from this journalism is the real culprit is the American voter. the fickle American that wants to have their cake, and eat it too. Want the low taxes, but high cost benefits also.
Americans also want the their high wages, short hours, and medical benefits. But also the cheapest possible price at Wal-Mart for goods made overseas by people that don't have those benefits. They want it all, but don't want to pay for it.
The main point that comes out loud and clear here is the politicians cater to the voter so they can stay in power, and the voter is "in denial" about the real cost of what they want. Americans have no one to blame but themselves. It's just a shame that the selfish voter, primarily baby boomers, far outnumber any truly conservative, understanding and responsible voter. But overall, we will get in the end what we deserve. We will transfrom from "the land of the free, and home of the brave", to the land of debt-slaves, and home of the fearful.
Santa Clara, CA
Your analysis on "Ten Trillion and Counting" was interesting, although not entirely surprising. But perhaps more importantly, your considerations of our spending priorities dramatically ignored our bloated, wasteful military spending, which comprises over 50% of the entire federal budget (excluding the stimulus and bailout). You might do well to have a program in the future on the overly expensive military-industrial complex.
Health care is also an important issue, but there was barely an allusion to how this might be resolved. One important question is this: why do countries like Canada, Britain and Australia spend less of a portion of their GDP on health care? Perhaps a single-payer system will make for a more efficient health care system. I hope your future programs will address this issue as well.
Santa Barbara, CA
While an excellent portrait of the fiscal irresponsibility that has plagued Washington for the past two decades, "Ten Trillion and Counting" fails to comment on the dangers of our monetary system as a whole. While placing much of the blame on the United States'largest foreign creditor, China, and the extravagances of the Bush years, the program makes no mention of the federal government's largest overall creditor, the Federal Reserve Bank. Until the Fed and our monetary system gets the kind of candid and insightful reporting Frontline is renowned for, our economic woes will continue, uninhibited.