Issues to consider in the upcoming campaign cycle

Tina Haapala |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

As we recently discussed, college is getting more expensive and graduates are thus being saddled with ever-increasing debt. Long before Bernie Sanders’ campaign, there have been calls on Capitol Hill to make college totally or partially free. 

With student debt being well over $30,000 per student and over $1 trillion in aggregate it is hard to argue that college costs are not a problem. In fact, student loan debt now surpasses credit card debt. This burden is resulting in changes to our culture and economy. Sitting on a mound of debt makes the graduate less likely to marry, start a family, buy a house, etc.
Then there is Social Security. You’ve heard me lambast it before. Many years ago I discussed some simple tweaks that could be done to fix it without too much pain. Well, now there will be more pain (that’s the problem of waiting). 

Congress seems to have a hard time doing anything about this issue. One part of the voting populace will destroy a reelection bid if they raise taxes to pay for it. Another part will kick them out if they cut benefits. That leaves Congress doing nothing as the best job security reaction. But you and I know that more taxes or lower benefits or (more likely) both will be needed to fix this. The sooner it’s done, the less painful it will be.
I chimed in recently about immigration. It’s a problem.  We have a problem of knowing what to do about all of the illegal immigrants/undocumented workers. There’s a problem with educating foreigners in the best education system in the world (ours) and then pushing them out the door to compete against us.
You may have heard that the country is in debt. Lately the level of debt increase has moderated to what I consider an acceptable level. But unless we can get some surpluses going, it will be hard to get the too high existing debt down.

Let’s not forget about our infrastructure. It has helped our country be as incredibly productive as it is. In the past, had better highways, communications, airports, ports, than most of the world. Over time even the best tends to deteriorate. A lot of other folks, especially those in Asia, have been catching up with us. Since they got started later they’re infrastructure is newer and more efficient. Now it is time for us to catch up.
Okay, now for a homework assignment: There’s an election coming up. Find out who is planning what in these areas. It’s easy for them to say “I will fix…” and then add your concern to the end of the sentence. It’s easy for them to say, “And I’ll make…” someone other than you pay for it. But if don’t hear anything concrete, or all you hear are ideas that when examined have no chance at working, then all they are doing is giving you a dose of hope with nothing to back it up. 

I have hope, I have faith in God. 

What I need are workable plans of action from the politicians.

This article was published in the Wichita Falls Times Record News on June 12, 2016.