Penny for your thoughts

All eyes are on Congress as the threat of default seems closer to becoming a reality each day. While members from both sides of the aisle are struggling to find common ground, a compromise is yet to be reached.

With Congress fighting for a compromise, down to every last penny, the fate of government programs such as Social Security and healthcare remains in the hands of a few powerful congressmen.  But does the government actually spend where Americans want to see money being spent? We decided to roam the streets of Washington to find out whether Congress really has the best interests of the American taxpayers at heart.

Instead of simply carrying out a series of one-on-one interviews, RT conducted an experiment to get to the bottom of this issue. We laid out six jars to represent six different areas where the government spends — education, infrastructure, Social Security, healthcare, deficit reduction and the military. We gave our interviewees five pennies and asked them to divide their fortunes between the six jars, forcing them to make a cut somewhere.

By far the two most popular programs were education and infrastructure.  We interviewed people from all walks of life — young and old, Republicans and Democrats, men and women. Everyone chose to give at least one penny, and in many cases two, to education. Coming in a close second was infrastructure, as many complained about crumbling bridges and roads across the nation. Social security and healthcare each received a moderate amount of pennies towards the end of the interviews. Before we began this process, we all thought that deficit reduction would receive a large majority of the pennies, especially as the debt crisis has attracted nationwide attention.  However, deficit reduction came in next to last. The most striking revelation of all was that the military came in last place. The military, where the federal government spends the most money, was the last place where Americans wanted to see their money being spent. Perhaps Washington isn’t so in tune with what Americans want after all.

With five days left until the US hits its debt ceiling deadline, politicians are still divided on whether or not the country’s borrowing limit should be raised. Euro Pacific Capital President Peter Schiff says that the debt ceiling isn’t the real problem — it’s the debt itself.

Raising the ceiling, says Schiff, will only make that problem bigger. He says that the discussion over whether or not it should be raised is a charade, and right now the decision is up to us. “If we want to default, obviously we can do it. If we don’t want to, there is plenty of revenue.” Schiff believes that the government brings in enough money that it shouldn’t have to worry about raising the ceiling, and is personally against it.

“The government is still collecting over two trillion a year in taxes,” says Schiff. “That’s all the government was spending 10 or 12 years ago. I think that the tax revenues that they already collect is plenty.”

Schiff adds that, if the US wants to keep the crisis from worsening, they need to stop borrowing and learn to deal with reality. Unfortunately, that reality, says Schiff, is that the government isn’t helping us out. He says that too many impoverished Americans are in that state because the government is draining valuable resources out of the private sector.

And according to Schiff, if the US continues to operate the way it has been, the economy will simply overdose.

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