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READ INSTRUCTIONS SEE THE EXAMPLE ATTACHED!!! 1. Make your INITIAL class discussion post in response to the assigned topic questions by 8:00 a.m. of the specified due date. Your initial post MUST BE at least 375 words in length, AND it must address ALL aspects of the questions assigned or substantial points will be lost. Make your initial post by creating your own thread in the discussion forum. Your initial post is worth up to 25 points out of the 35 total points available. Now that you have completed the federal budget assignment and test, I want you to explore the federal budget topic a bit further in this discussion assignment. During the budget assignment and test, you simply had to locate the correct amounts in the tables and express them correctly in dollars, but now I want you to think more about what those dollar amounts actually mean to your life and to begin forming an opinion on what you believe America's federal budget policy should be (also referred to as fiscal policy). It is important for you to have a good general understanding of this because our government's fiscal policy will have a substantial impact on you for the rest of your life through the income taxes you will pay and the services and benefits that you will receive. The size of the U.S. federal budget for fiscal year 2017 (FY2017) is $4.1 trillion, which is the amount of total outlays to pay for all federal government operations, programs, and services, which we all benefit from in some way. But only $3.6 trillion was collected in taxes to pay for it all, leaving a shortfall (or deficit) of $503 billion. Why does the government overspend by so much? It doesn't have to. It could simply cut expenses by the amount of the deficit, or, instead of cutting expenses, it could raise everyone's taxes by enough to cover the amount of the deficit. Or, instead of cutting expenses or raising taxes, another option is for the government to simply order the Treasury Department to print an extra $503 billion of money and then deposit those additional dollars in the federal government's accounts to cover the amount of the deficit. All of these options, however, entail significant political risk, especially in a democratic society, where those who make tough and potentially unpopular decisions must stand for re-election by the people. No one ever wants their taxes raised, and cutting government expenses will affect services and benefits that millions of people depend on. Printing billions of extra dollars could cause price inflation by adding to the national money supply, making everyone's dollars worth less, because when prices rise our dollars don't buy as much. So instead of making these tougher choices, our elected leaders instead usually make the easier decision, which is to borrow the money to cover the deficit, thus deferring the cost into the future. Our federal budget usually has a deficit of some amount every year. The continued borrowing by our government to cover the budget deficits that it runs each year is what creates our total (gross) national debt, which is currently about $20 trillion. The $20 trillion national debt will have to be paid back by current and future taxpayers. But from where does our government borrow the money each year to finance the deficit? Primarily, it sells U.S. Treasury bonds to whoever wants to buy them. The buyers of the bonds are, in effect, lending money to the U.S. government, and the federal government must pay them interest for doing so. It's an investment for the bond buyers, and U.S. Treasury bonds are considered the safest investment in the world because they are backed by the wealth of the U.S. government. And the wealth of the U.S. government is derived from the GDP of the U.S. economy and the taxes that are paid on that wealth by American citizens and businesses. The interest payments that the federal government must pay to the buyers of the U.S. Treasury bonds is one of the ongoing expenses of our government, as it borrows to cover the deficit each year. The amount of interest to be paid in FY2017 is $303 billion, which was the answer to question #15 in the budget exercise (net interest expense). View the video in this module on "Treasury Bond Prices and Yields" to get an idea of how U.S. Treasury bonds work. Most Americans are concerned that we have a $20 trillion national debt. As stated earlier, it is a debt that must be paid back by current and future generations of American taxpayers. The easiest way to pay down the national debt would be if the American economy (GDP) begins to grow at a much faster rate than it has in our recent history, because if the economy grows faster, then that means more money will be made by individuals and businesses, which will result in more taxes being paid to the government on those higher incomes. I say this is the easiest way to pay down the national debt because in this scenario tax rates don't have to be raised on individuals and businesses, and government expenses don't have to be cut. But this scenario may not be possible because it is very hard for an economy the size of the U.S.'s to grow beyond its current growth rate. In our global economy of today, that would mean the United States has to do a better job than it currently is of competing with the other countries of the world for business. We would need to grow our GDP by over 4% per year, and maybe even 5%, for a number of years into the future. I say this may not be possible because if you look at the chart of the U.S. GDP growth rate that is included in this module for the years 1947 to the present, you will see that it has been very difficult for the U.S. economy to achieve a GDP growth rate of 5% in any sustained way since the 1970s. The average annual GDP growth rate since 1947 is a little over 3%. In fact, the GDP growth rate has been in a fairly steady rate of decline, or a state of stagnation, for many years.The simplest explanation for this is the increased international competition during an era of accelerated globalization. So let's assume that the United States is NOT going to be able to pay down the $20 trillion national debt by substantially growing our economy (GDP). That leaves us with the options of either cutting expenses or raising taxes (or both) to get the debt level under control. With respect to raising taxes, consider the following: If you make $50,000 a year, then you will pay about $5,825 per year in federal income tax (15% rate) after standard deductions, plus about $3,825 per year in Social Security and Medicare taxes (7.65%) If you make $100,000 a year, then you will pay about $18,341 per year in federal income taxes (20%) after standard deductions, plus about $7,650 per year in Social Security and Medicare taxes (7.65%) Corporations pay a federal income tax of up to 35% on their profits (after expenses are deducted). Also consider that nearly half of all Americans (46%) pay no federal income tax at all, mostly because either their income is so low after deductions they don't owe any under current tax law, or they are exempt because they are retirees. Many of those who pay no federal income tax, however, are still required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on the low amount of money they do make. On the expense side of the budget, as mentioned before, the federal government will spend $4.1 trillion in FY2017. The most significant expenditures in the budget are: $524 billion for military and defense (not including $73.3 billion Overseas Contingency Operations costs for the current military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, & Syria, and $75 billion for military veterans benefits) $967 billion for Social Security (mostly for elderly retirees, but some is for spouse and children survivors and disabled persons) $598 billion for Medicare (government health insurance for elderly retirees) $386 billion for Medicaid (government health insurance for low income citizens) $651 billion for other mandatory government programs for the financially insecure, such as family and child welfare assistance, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and retirement pensions for career military and federal government personnel. As you can see from the list of expenditures above, those that are listed account for most the $4.1 trillion in total government expenditures for FY2017. If you add them up, they equal about $3.3 trillion (about 80% of total expenditures), so if you believe federal government spending must be cut, then these categories are where the main dollars are. Watch the video in this folder entitled "Federal Budget 101" before taking the next step to write your initial discussion post. It will give you further perspective on the federal budget topic before you consider the assigned questions below. For your initial discussion post, I want you to think about how you would address the issue of our $20 trillion national debt by either raising taxes, cutting expenses, or both. Begin your post with a statement along the lines of "I would address the $20 trillion national debt by . . ." Feel free to describe your own unique plan for addressing the debt, but in your initial post you must include a response to each of the following questions: Should federal income taxes on individuals or corporations be raised? Why or why not? If so, on whom and how much? Should military and defense spending be cut from current levels or raised even higher? If you believe spending should be cut, do you think U.S. national security can be adequately protected if less is spent? Explain. If you think defense spending should be even higher, explain why you believe the current level is not sufficient. Should Social Security and Medicare programs for retirees be reformed? How? For example, should taxes be raised to help pay for them? Should the qualifying retirement age be raised for future generations? Should wealthy retirees be excluded from these programs? Should the government not plan for payments to retirees at all and leave it entirely up to individuals to be responsible for their retirement? Explain what reforms you would make. Should government assistance programs for poorer citizens be cut, such as Medicaid, food stamps, family and child welfare, etc.? If you believe they should be, how do believe the basic health and welfare needs of these citizens can be met given that about 15% of the U.S. population is considered to be living in poverty? If you do not believe they should be cut, what do you believe is the best way to keep citizens from becoming too dependent on these programs? Make your initial post in response to the above questions by the due date shown in the course calendar. Do not restate the questions in your post or use numbers or bullets to itemize your responses. Write your post in paragraph form. After making your initial post, engage in discussion on the topic with your classmates by responding to their comments and observations in accordance with the assignment instructions on the previous page. Please read the instructions thoroughly. Your initial post must meet the minimum length requirement of at least 375 words and address all aspects of the assigned question(s). After making your initial post, you will need to find someone else's initial post whose opinion you disagree with in some respect in order to make your opposition post. Make sure you meet the posting deadlines for each step of the discussion assignment in order to avoid losing points. The due dates for each step are shown in the Assignments Schedule and Course Calendar. Click on "Click to Launch" at the top of the page when you are ready to create your initial post, or you can click on the "Discussion Board" link located on the course menu on the left side of the page.
READ INSTRUCTIONS SEE THE EXAMPLE ATTACHED!!! 1. Make your INITIAL class discussion post in response to the assigned topic questions by 8:00 a.m. of the specified due date. Your initial post MUST BE at least 375 words in length, AND it must address ALL aspects of the questions assigned or substantial points will be lost.
Assignment ID
67828
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CREATED ON
28 November 2016
COMPLETED ON
29 November 2016
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