As the Greek economy descends into political and economic chaos, it's only natural for Americans to wonder how the United States can avoid such a catastrophe. Greece is descending into a debt vortex from borrowing too much, and can no longer keep up with domestic demands for social welfare payments.
The debt abyss is an economic reality already known to millions of American families who made risky bets on the housing market just before the economic crash, or racked up massive credit card debt. Those families know that the solution to restoring a sustainable and prosperous future is not to keep on spending wantonly, but to make painful lifestyle adjustments that cut spending drastically and begin to pay off the debt. A nation, like a family, that lives above its means for a time must eventually live beneath its means to pay off the debts.
Last Friday the City Council of North Las Vegas, Nevada’s fourth largest city just north and east of Las Vegas, voted unanimously to suspend part of its union agreement in order to balance its budget. With property tax and general tax revenues down by more than 30 percent in just the last three years, North Las Vegas was facing a shortfall of $30 million in its $500 million budget.
Under state law it must submit a balanced budget by June 1. Negotiations with three public employee unions, the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association (POA), the North Las Vegas Police Supervisors Association (PSA), and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), began in January but the unions refused to make the concessions necessary to keep the city solvent.
The latest report from the nonpartisan Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College was brutal in its assessment of the status of state and local pension plans and their ability to keep their promises to their beneficiaries and retirees. With public pension funds underfunded by half, those states, cities and municipalities — and their taxpayers — would have to double their contributions to those plans just to have any chance of them avoiding default on their promises to those depending on them for their retirement.
A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, commissioned by Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), is questioning the federal government’s $18-billion job training program.
California Governor Jerry Brown is calling for higher taxes as lethargic economic growth has left his state in fiscal turmoil. Brown also mentioned that California would have to implement another $6 billion in spending cuts on public schools and higher education if voters reject his call to increase sales and income taxes.