General Motors and Chrysler, so the story goes, have repaid the dollars the federal government loaned them to keep them from going belly up. Therefore, it is said, every American should ignore the nagging constitutional and ethical questions and applaud the government’s efforts to turn these companies around. After all, what is more important: some yellowed piece of parchment or, as President Barack Obama put it, “millions of jobs [that] wouldn’t have been around anymore” if Uncle Sam hadn’t stepped in?

One of the most important, but widely unknown bills currently proposed in Congress is legislation that would end American participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The bill, H.R. 4759, calls for America’s withdrawal from the free trade agreement, and is sponsored by several Democrats and a small cadre of Republicans, including Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Rep. Walter B. Jones (R- N.C.).

In what could be one of the understatements of 2011, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking at the International Monetary Conference in Atlanta on Tuesday, remarked, “U.S. economic growth so far this year looks to have been somewhat slower than expected.… A number of indicators also suggest some loss of momentum in the labor market."

cagle economyWith the European economy in shambles from a seemingly intractable sovereign debt crisis and the United States technically out of money to fund its own bloated government, talk of sovereign default is in the air. Greece, the beneficiary of the first of three EU/IMF bailouts, is again on the ropes, insisting that it will not be able to meet its June obligations of more than $13 billion in interest payments. The hard-pressed Greek populace, meanwhile, is balking at the range of financial austerities being urged upon them by their government’s creditors, and Greece’s political class is caught in the middle. The financial world is expecting Greece to default eventually, and other EU debtors like Ireland, Portugal, and even Spain to follow suit.

Anyone paying much attention to the news is aware that the U.S. government is now about $14.3 trillion in debt and considering borrowing even more. That $14.3 trillion, however, only includes what the government currently owes. If one includes Uncle Sam’s unfunded liabilities — promised future payments the government does not expect to have revenue to cover — Washington actually owes “a record $61.6 trillion,” according to a recent USA Today analysis.

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