2016 resolutions: Hey feds, you first

GUEST COLUMN

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Tom Purcell

If you think our benevolent federal government is too big, this will agitate you: The government is advising us on New Year’s resolutions.

About USA.gov, the government’s official web portal, offers a dozen recommendations. First up, the government wants us to resolve to lose weight next year.

Hey, federal government, maybe if you’d stop subsidizing the sugar and high-sucrose corn syrup industries — empty calories the human body turns into fat — we surely wouldn’t be so tubby.

Here’s another recommended resolution: eat healthy food — though this recommendation is more of a demand. Just ask school kids, whose school lunches must follow government-mandated requirements — frequently resulting in awful-tasting grub — or their school districts will not receive government dough.

That brings us to another recommendation: save money. That’s a good one, federal government! Our national debt is nearly $19 trillion — it’s more than tripled since George W. Bush became president in 2001. The budget deal just passed by our Republican Congress is packed with enough lard to cause a national cardiac arrest. If anyone needs to save money, it’s you.

Which brings us to a resolution our government knows plenty about: manage debt. Did I mention our national debt? Did I mention how rapidly it has grown? I didn’t mention our political leaders are doing little to address the problem. Or that we will be in a world of hurt when interest rates are restored to normal levels and debt-service soars.

Here’s another resolution: get a better education. Great idea, federal government. An education is the way forward. However, every time you make more student loan money available, the cost of college goes up. It’s risen three times faster than inflation and created a massive student-loan bubble.

Today, nearly 37 million Americans owe roughly $1 trillion total in student-loan debt — most of it federal student-loan debt. The average student-loan balance stands at around $24,300.

Here’s another recommended resolution: get fit. I couldn’t agree more with this one, federal government. Now that you have butted into the private health insurance system — now that I have to pay higher premiums to cover things I don’t want or need — I had to switch to a high-deductible policy. The more fit I am, the less likely I will face costly out-of-pocket health costs.

That brings us to another recommendation: manage stress. Hey, federal government, I was managing stress just fine until you borrowed trillions and disrupted private health insurance.

In order to manage stress, I need to manage you, so I sent Republicans to represent me in the House and Senate and they just passed a spending bill so packed with pork, it would have caused Democrats to blush. In other words, I am unable to manage the source of my stress.

Which brings us to two related resolutions: quit smoking and drink less alcohol. Hey, federal government, smoking premium cigars is the only thing that relaxes me these days — which is why the FDA is eager to regulate them, no doubt. The government wants to “improve” cigars the way it “improved” our health care system?

Which brings us to alcohol. I figure that as long as you spend our money like a drunken sailor, you are making me drink like one.

So let’s make a deal, federal government: I’ll agree to your New Year’s resolutions — but only if you go first.

— Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist.



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