David Walker interview about the economy

GLENN: From Radio City in Midtown Manhattan, the third most listened to show in all of America. Hello, you sick freak. My name is Glenn Beck. Dow is down 300 points. Still people are in denial that our economy is in real, real trouble and the reason why I say normally, I would tell you that, you know, we go through these cycles and it happens. I cannot tell you that now and I have been telling you this for at least a year. I've been really ringing the warning bell since August on what was coming with our banking systems and everything else because of the underlying problem that we have in our government's recordkeeping, the way our government is spending. An avalanche is right around the corner and there is no escape and no one is willing to talk about it. None of our politicians will address it and so no matter what kind of Band-Aid you put on this economy, you must address certain issues, and the biggest issue is not the peanut museums but Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. What is coming around the corner. Today all of our politicians are talking about spending packages, giving out more money to help this economy. It will be short lived and in the end do much, much more damage because the underlying problem is we have spent too much money as it is.


 


 Now, I tried to get this guy on the radio for you to listen to for quite some time. David Walker is the comptroller general of the United States of America. Basically he is our chief accountant. This is not a political position. He was appointed originally by Reagan, reappointed by Clinton but always unanimous in the Senate. He never spoke out. He has finally said an avalanche is coming and no one's willing to talk about it and so he will tell you what really is coming. I beg you to listen to this man because he's the only one telling you the truth about what's happening in Washington because he's the guy who keeps the books.


 


 It is an honor, sir. David Walker, welcome to the program.


 


 WALKER: Good to be with you, Glenn. Like your theme song.


 


 GLENN: Thank you very much. David, do you get a lot of heat from political people for speaking out this way?


 


 WALKER: Glenn, as long as I state the facts, speak the truth, don't blame any particular political party and don't blame any particular person, then I'm fine. And in fact, I'm doing elected officials a favor because the American people need to understand where we are, where we're headed, the need for tough choices and realistically elected officials aren't going to make those tough choices until the people understand the need for them.


 


 GLENN: I don't care about the blame. I don't want to point fingers. I just, I understand the problem. Start at the beginning. Tell us how this system works. Tell us how if our Government was a business, they would all be in jail today.


 


 WALKER: Yeah, if we were a business, we would be out of business. But the Government has the ability to do things that the companies don't. The Government has the ability to print money. The Government has the ability to tax. The Government has had the ability to borrow because at the present point in time the federal government is viewed as having the safest credit rating that you can get. However within the last two years both S&P and Moody's have said that we're headed for a junk bond rating within the next 15 to 20 years if we don't --


 


 GLENN: What does that mean to us?


 


 WALKER: Well, what that's going to mean is much higher interest rates that the Government will have to pay in order to borrow money which will have adverse effects on the budget, which will have adverse effects with regard to the overall economy.


 


 GLENN: David, please, please help me out on this. I'm a former deejay. I'm a self-educated guy. I'm a recovering alcoholic, for the love of Pete, and I can understand our economy. But every -- because I look at it like my house. But every economist, every expert, every politician will say, oh, no, well, that's too simple. It doesn't seem -- you are talking about, here come crushing interest rates because we have bad credit. That's what the average homeowner who has bad credit and went out and got a risky loan is facing today.


 


 WALKER: Right.


 


 GLENN: Where is the difference? Why is it more complex than our personal economy?


 


 WALKER: Frankly I think a lot of the economists want to make it more complicated than it really is. I mean, the fact of the matter is that the federal government is spending more money than it takes in. It's charging the national credit card. It's building debt in compounded interest and it's expecting future generations to pay it off. And, you know, our problem is not the current deficits. The deficits we're running now are manageable. Our current debt levels that we have now are manageable. The problem is that even though the deficits have come down for three years in a row, our unfunded promises for Social Security and Medicare have risen dramatically. In our total fiscal hole it is $53 trillion. That's $440,000 per household. So the problem's not where we are, it's not where we've been. It's where we're headed unless we end up making dramatic and fundamental reforms.


 


 GLENN: And see, this is the problem. All the politicians make the deficit, the current deficit the issue and they say these deficit spendings, they're out of control. And I believe they are. And they've got to cut spending in Washington. But the biggest problem that we've had in the last eight years is adding another program like prescription drugs, correct?


 


 WALKER: That was the most fiscally irresponsible act in decades. And when the congress debated that, they only considered the ten-year cost of the program, not the longer term cost. And now we know the price tag for Medicare prescription drugs is over $8 trillion. There's twelve zeros in line with that eight.


 


 GLENN: Give some example. These numbers honestly, David, I think that trillion, I believe growing up, I believe when I was in second grade I think I made up the word trillion and zillion. I didn't think they were real words. So give some concept of what $8 trillion means.


 


 WALKER: Well, I'll give you the $53 trillion that I talked about which is the total unfunded obligations for Medicare, which is $34 trillion. The total unfunded obligation for Social Security which is about 7 plus our debt and other liabilities. $53 trillion is $440,000 per American household. Median household income in America, believe it or not, Glenn, is less than $50,000 a year. So it's like if we just want to continue on our present path, it's like every American household having a mortgage of nine and a half times their annual income for the median household but no house to back that mortgage. That's in addition to all the other debt that they have.


 


 GLENN: It's my understanding when people say tax the rich, they need to pay more, it is my understanding that you could take all of the income, income, not income tax, all of the income generated in this country and still not afford what we have coming.


 


 WALKER: Well, to put it a different way, the $53 trillion is 90% of the estimated total net worth of every American, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and every billionaire. You are not going to tax your way out of this problem. You're not going to grow your way out of this problem. You are not going to do it by con training spending. You are going to have to do a combination of things and the biggest thing is going to be entitlement reform, Social Security and Medicare, healthcare being a much greater challenge. And we need to start soon because time's working against us. That $53 trillion number is going up $2 to $3 trillion a year by doing nothing.


 


 GLENN: Tell me about the -- and listeners, because I don't want to make this political. It tell you, though, behind-the-scenes story on the Menu of Pain on a later episode of the program. But let's just keep it nonpolitical here. Tell me about the Menu of Pain that actually was supposed to be in a federal budget but was buried in a group of actuary tables in the back of the Social Security budget, if I'm not mistaken, but this is telling. It tells you the real story of what you've got to do.


 


 WALKER: Well, we're going to have to do several things. Number one, we're going to have to bring back tough budget controls, tougher than the ones we had in the 1990s. Those ones worked. They took us from deficits to surpluses but they all expired in 2002 and there's been no constraint since then. And so we've got to bring back tough controls. But in addition to that we're going to have to reform Social Security, which frankly is easy and we can talk about that if you want. We're going to have to engage in dramatic healthcare reform in installments and we're going to have to --


 


 GLENN: Wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait, wait, dramatic healthcare installments, what's that mean? Can we afford anybody's plan of universal healthcare?


 


 WALKER: Well, the current plans that we have right now, the numbers don't add up and here's what we have to recognize. We have already promised in Medicare alone $34 trillion more than in revenues that we have to deliver on those promises. $34 trillion in today's terms, okay? So when people talk about, gee, I want to do this on healthcare, I'm going to pay for it by not extending the Bush tax cuts or whatever, what about the $34 trillion hole? You can't just be in a situation to talk about I'm going to pay for my additional promises. We need to address the $34 trillion hole. And that was the problem with Medicare prescription drugs. We were in the hole about $20 trillion and it went up another $8 rather than going the direction it needs to go.


 


 GLENN: On the Menu of Pain it was several different things. You can reform Social Security, you can raise taxes and every year that slips by because of the mounting interest, those, that menu becomes more and more painful.


 


 WALKER: That's correct.


 


 GLENN: Can you give us some of the realistic -- because everybody's talking about raising taxes now. Can you just give us the line of how high you need to raise taxes to be able to deal with it two years ago today and maybe two years in the future?


 


 WALKER: Well, let's talk about today, okay? I mean, you know, you would end up having to increase taxes about $11,000 per household immediately in order to deal with this problem. Stated differently, you would end up having to -- we would end up having to tax, rather than at about 18 1/2% of the economy, which is what we're doing now, about 30% of the economy over the next 15 to 20 years and continuing to rise. And those taxes would be borne primarily in all likelihood either based upon income taxes or some type of consumption tax because payroll taxes are already burdening too many Americans.


 


 GLENN: David, what happens if we don't address this problem in the next four years? What does it look like in four years from now, you know, ten years or 20 years from now?


 


 WALKER: Here's my concern. I believe we have a narrowing window of opportunity to get our fiscal house in order. I believe we have five to ten years maximum in order to be able to demonstrate to the capital markets and to our foreign lenders that we will take this seriously. If we're not able to do that, then I think it's only a matter of time before those who have been borrowing our debt -- buying our debt, which is increasingly foreign players, 75%-plus of our debt bought by foreign players, will lose their appetite for our debt and that's when interest rates go up. And when interest rates go up, then believe me, we can have something a lot worse than a recession.


 


 So my concern is that the next President, whoever that might be, has got to make fiscal responsibility and intergenerational equity one of their top priorities. They need to start talking about it in the general election campaign so that they have some basis to do something about it because the window of opportunity is closing.


 


 GLENN: David, I will not ask you a question that will put you in an awkward situation. So answer this as generally as you can and we'll do our own homework. Have you heard any politician out there that has a shot actually talking about the issue in a way that you feel is fiscally responsible?


 


 WALKER: First, I did not expect and I haven't been disappointed in the fact that fiscal responsibility and intergenerational equity has not been a major issue in the primary campaigns. I didn't expect that it would be because in the primary campaigns both parties are playing to their base and they are more concerned with issues like Iraq and immigration and now the changing nature of the economy and general healthcare coverage and things of that nature. I've expected and I hope that I will be right that it will be an issue for the general election campaign.


 


 Now, without mentioning any specific names, there's at least a couple of people on the Republican side and at least one person on the Democratic side who have used some words that lead you to believe that they understand that we have a problem here, but nobody has dealt with specifics at this point and I don't expect that they will for some time. Candidly I think they need to commit to several things, Glenn. Number one: They understand that we have a big problem and they are committed to make it a priority to do something about it. Number two: They will work on a bipartisan basis to address this problem if they become President. Number three: They will not take anything off the table. They won't take changes to Social Security or Medicare or the tax system or spending policy off the table because the gap's so big, we need to have everything on the table. And ideally, number 4: That they would endorse a capable, credible bipartisan commission that would make recommendations to the next President and the next congress for an up or down vote, a forced vote to try to help us get a down payment on this big problem so we can start making progress.


 


 GLENN: David, I only have one minute and there are a ton of nay sayers, a ton of people who say, oh, we've always faced these problems, et cetera, et cetera. Give me one fact that would peel the skin off of people's faces to wake them up.


 


 WALKER: In 1950 we had 16 people paying into Social Security for every person retired. Now we have 3.3 to 1. We're going to have 2 to 1 by 2030. Same ratios for Medicare. We've never faced this before. This is a tsunami of spending that can swamp our ship of state if we don't get serious.


 


 GLENN: David Walker, I can't tell you, sir. You are going to go down in the history books as a patriot. I appreciate you speaking out and don't stop. And anything we can do, you please let us know, sir.


 


 WALKER: Thanks for your interest and efforts, Glenn.


 


 GLENN: Thank you, sir.


 


 WALKER: Take care.


 


 GLENN: David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States of America. He is our chief bean counter and the first, first guy to ever come out and really talk about it. We're out of time. I wish we weren't because he'll talk to you about the three sets of books that we hold, how I think we should put these people in jail. But that's a different story.

Stop trying to be right and think of the children

Mario Tama/Getty Images

All the outrage this week has mainly focused on one thing: the evil Trump administration and its minions who delight in taking children from their illegal immigrant parents and throwing them all in dungeons. Separate dungeons, mind you.

That makes for a nice, easy storyline, but the reality is less convenient. Most Americans seem to agree that separating children from their parents — even if their parents entered the US illegally — is a bad thing. But what if that mom and dad you're trying to keep the kids with aren't really the kids' parents? Believe it or not, fraud happens.

RELATED: Where were Rachel Maddow's tears for immigrant children in 2014?

While there are plenty of heartbreaking stories of parents simply seeking a chance for a better life for their children in the US, there are also corrupt, abusive human traffickers who profit from the illegal immigration trade. And sorting all of this out is no easy task.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security said that since October 2017, more than 300 children have arrived at the border with adults claiming to be their parents who turned out not to be relatives. 90 of these fraud cases came from the Rio Grande Valley sector alone.

In 2017, DHS reported 46 causes of fraudulent family claims. But there have already been 191 fraud cases in 2018.

Shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

When Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pointed out this 315 percent increase, the New York Times was quick to give these family fraud cases "context" by noting they make up less than one percent of the total number of illegal immigrant families apprehended at the southern border. Their implication was that Nielsen was exaggerating the numbers. Even if the number of fraud cases at the border was only 0.001 percent, shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

This is the most infuriating part of this whole conversation this week (if you can call it a "conversation") — that both sides have an angle to defend. And while everyone's busy yelling and making their case, children are being abused.

What if we just tried, for two seconds, to love having mercy more than we love having to be right all the time?

Remember when cartoons were happy things? Each panel took you on a tiny journey, carrying you to an unexplored place. In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud writes:

The comics creator asks us to join in a silent dance of the seen and the unseen. The visible and the invisible. This dance is unique to comics. No other artform gives so much to its audience while asking so much from them as well. This is why I think it's a mistake to see comics as a mere hybrid of the graphic arts and prose fiction. What happens between . . . panels is a kind of magic only comics can create.

When that magic is manipulated or politicized, it often devolves the artform into a baseless thing. Yesterday, Occupy Wall Street published the perfect example of low-brow deviation of the artform: A six-panel approach at satire, which imitates the instructions-panel found in the netted cubbyhole behind seats on airplanes. The cartoon is a critique of the recent news about immigrant children being separated from their parents after crossing the border. It is a step-by-step guide to murdering US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents.

RELATED: Cultural appropriation has jumped the shark, and everyone is noticing

The first panel shows a man shoving an infant into a cage meant for Pomeranians. The following five panels feature instructions, and include pictures of a cartoonish murder.

The panels read as follows:

  1. If an ICE agent tries to take your child at the border, don't panic.
  2. Pull your child away as quickly as possibly by force.
  3. Gently tell your child to close his/her eyes and ears so they won't witness what you are about to do.
  4. Grab the ICE agent from behind and push your knife into his chest with an upward thrust, causing the agent's sternum to break.
  5. Reach into his chest and pull out his still beating heart.
  6. Hold his bloody heart out for all other agents to see, and tell them that the same fate awaits them if they f--- with your child again.

Violent comics are nothing new. But most of the time, they remain in the realms of invented worlds — in other words, not in our own, with reference to actual people, let alone federal agents.

The mainstream media made a game of crying racism with every cartoon depiction of Obama during his presidency, as well as during his tenure as Senator, when the New Yorker, of all things, faced scrutiny for depicting him in "Muslim clothing." Life was a minefield for political cartoonists during the Obama era.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

This year, we saw the leftist outrage regarding The Simpsons character Apu — a cartoon representation of a highly-respected, though cartoonishly-depicted, character on a cartoon show composed of cartoonishly-depicted characters.

We all remember Charlie Hebdo, which, like many outlets that have used cartoon satire to criticize Islam, faced the wrath and ire of people unable to see even the tamest representation of the prophet, Muhammad.

Interesting, isn't it? Occupy Wall Street publishes a cartoon that advocates murdering federal agents, and critics are told to lighten up. Meanwhile, the merest depiction of Muhammad has resulted in riots throughout the world, murder and terror on an unprecedented scale.

The intersection of Islam and comics is complex enough to have its own three-hour show, so we'll leave it at that, for now. Although, it is worth mentioning the commentary by satirical website The Onion, which featured a highly offensive cartoon of all the major religious figures except Muhammad. It noted:

Following the publication of the image above, in which the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity, no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened.

Of course, Occupy Wall Street is free to publish any cartoon they like. Freedom of speech, and so on—although there have been several instances in which violent cartoons were ruled to have violated the "yelling fire in a crowded theater" limitation of the First Amendment.

Posting it to Twitter is another issue — this is surely in violation of Twitter's violent content policy, but something tells me nothing will come of it. It's a funny world, isn't it? A screenshot of a receipt from Chick-fil-A causes outrage but a cartoon advocating murder gets crickets.

RELATED: Twitter mob goes ballistic over Father's Day photo of Caitlyn Jenner. Who cares?

In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud concludes that, "Today the possibilities for comics are — as they've always been — endless. Comics offers . . . range and versatility, with all the potential imagery of film and painting plus the intimacy of the written word. And all that's needed is the desire to be heard, the will to learn, and the ability to see."

Smile, and keep moving forward.

Crude and awful as the Occupy Wall Street comic is, the best thing we can do is nod and look elsewhere for the art that will open our eyes. Let the lunatics draw what they want, let them stew in their own flawed double standards. Otherwise, we're as shallow and empty as they are, and nothing good comes of that. Smile, and keep moving forward.

Things are getting better. Show the world how to hear, how to learn, how to see.

People should start listening to Nikki Haley

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

Okay. Let's take a vote. You know, an objective, quantifiable count. How many resolutions has the UN Human Rights Council adopted condemning dictatorships? Easy. Well. How do you define "dictatorship"?

Well, one metric is the UN Human Rights Council Condemnation. How many have the United Nations issued to China, with a body count higher than a professional Call of Duty player?

Zero.

How about Venezuela, where socialism is devouring its own in the cruelest, most unsettling ways imaginable?

Zero.

And Russia, home of unsettling cruelty and rampant censorship, murder and (actual) homophobia?

Zero.

Iraq? Zero. Turkey? Iraq? Zero. Cuba? Zero. Pakistan? Zero.

RELATED: Nikki Haley just dropped some serious verbal bombs on Russia at the UN

According to UN Human Rights Council Condemnations, 2006-2016, none of these nations is as dangerous as we'd imagined. Or, rather, none of them faced a single condemnation. Meanwhile, one country in particular has faced unbelievable scrutiny and fury — you'll never guess which country.

No, it's not Somalia. It's Israel. With 68 UN Human Rights Council Condemnations! In fact, the number of total United Nations condemnations against Israel outnumbers the total of condemnations against all other countries combined. The only country that comes close is Syria, with 15.

The Trump administration withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday in protest of what it perceives as an entrenched bias against Israel and a willingness to allow notorious human rights abusers as members.

In an address to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Nikki Haley said:

Let's remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy. This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday... No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.

Maybe people should start listening to Haley. Hopefully, they will. Not likely, but there's no crime in remaining hopeful.

Here's a question unique to our times: "Should I tell my father 'Happy Father's Day,' even though he (she?) is now one of my mothers?"

Father's Day was four days ago, yes, but this story is just weird enough to report on. One enjoyable line to read was this gem from Hollywood Gossip: "Cait is a woman and a transgender icon, but she is also and will always be the father of her six children."

RELATED: If Bruce was never a he and always a she, who won the men's Olympic gold in 1976?

Imagine reading that to someone ten — even five — years ago. And, honestly, there's something nice about it. But the strangeness of its having ever been written overpowers any emotional impact it might bring.

"So lucky to have you," wrote Kylie Jenner, in the Instagram caption under pre-transition pictures of Bruce Jenner.

Look. I risk sounding like a tabloid by mere dint of having even mentioned this story, but the important element is the cultural sway that's occurring. The original story was that a band of disgruntled Twitter users got outraged about the supposed "transphobic" remarks by Jenner's daughter.

But, what we should be saying is, "who the hell cares?" Who cares what one Jenner says to another — and more importantly and on a far deeper level — who cares what some anonymous Twitter user has to say?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob? Because, at the moment, they've got it pretty good. They have a nifty relationship with the mainstream media: One or two Twitter users get outraged by any given thing — in this case Jenner and supposed transphobia. In return, the mainstream media use the Twitter comment as a source.

Then, a larger Twitter audience points to the article itself as proof that there's some kind of systemic justice at play. It's a closed-market currency, where the negative feedback loop of proof and evidence is composed of faulty accusations. Isn't it a hell of a time to be alive?