Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Sid Salter: Debt Ceiling Drama Ignores Truth of Fed Spending in Mississippi

At this writing, the debt ceiling drama – the annual political kabuki theater between Congress and the White House over agreeing on the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations – continues in earnest.

As much as a thoroughly manufactured “crisis” can be considered in any way “earnest,” that is. Both sides saw this coming. Both sides are seeking political capital from it. And at the end of the day, there are few fiscally rational choices beyond an eventual extension of the debt ceiling.

Those “existing legal obligations” referenced above include Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, federal tax refunds and a host of other obligations the government already owes – so says the U.S. Treasury Department.

Here’s hoping an agreement is reached before our politicians can do any real harm.

The debt ceiling was established in 1917 and has been raised 78 times since its inception. The debt ceiling is currently $31.4 trillion. This political fight occurs regularly no matter which party controls the White House or the Congress. Republicans and Democrats alike have raised the debt ceiling – and will again.

It is a moment of high political theater and is one of the times that the country pauses to consider government spending, the national debt and what those numbers say about our country’s future and the state of our national economy.

It is, in fact, not much of a national debate about federal spending nor about national and global fiscal policy. Neither is it much of a debate about substantive solutions. 

Here’s the rub – the federal government spent $6.5 trillion in Fiscal Year 2022 and collected just over $5 trillion in revenues, which left a federal budget deficit of some $1.45 billion. As one might imagine, Democrats and Republicans differ on those numbers. That deficit looms in a country with a national debt of $31.46 trillion.

Balance that with the fact that the Social Security trust fund is projected to be exhausted in 2033 and will owe more than $9 trillion more in benefits than it is projected to collect from workers. Medicare is on fiscal life support and fading fast and the prospects for either program in their present forms past 2034 are dicey at best.

But, as the saying goes, all politics is local. So, what would it mean to Mississippi if the debt limit isn’t raised? What would cutting federal spending really mean for Mississippians?

For FY2023, Mississippi adopted a budget of $26.3 billion. But of that state budget, some 45 percent of it was met with federal dollars. Federal payments to Mississippi average about $6,880 per capita – ranking the state as one of the most dependent states on federal taxpayer largesse.

Specifically, federal funds in Mississippi pay for Medicaid, education, social welfare and highways. For public health care, the role of federal spending is most impactful. Three-fourths or more of Medicaid costs in Mississippi are paid by federal tax dollars.

And to give a complete perspective, Mississippi puts far, far less into the federal coffers than it takes out as a state. Mississippi taxpayers receive $2.73 back in federal spending for every dollar in federal taxes paid.

Those facts circle back to the truth that Mississippi’s state budget and much of the state’s private economy depends on federal dollars turning over in the local economies. Both would be harmed by allowing the debt ceiling political drama to go to the point of default.

If roughly half of Mississippi’s state government revenue comes from federal transfer payments, how do those state politicians plan to finance public health care, education, highways, agriculture and economic development?

Honestly informed of the consequences, are Mississippi taxpayers really willing to step up and assume fiscal responsibility for government services that have been in great measure subsidized by taxpayers in more affluent states like Massachusetts?

Raising the debt ceiling won’t change the fiscal realities of Social Security or Medicare, but it will protect the standing of the U.S. economy in global markets. And it will continue the mammoth federal subsidies to which the state has long been dependent.


Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Pork is Sid's favorite meal.

Anonymous said...

Has Sid ever had a real job?

Anonymous said...

SID SID, Explain to me we increased deficit 8 trillon in 8 years under OBAMA
2 trillion under Trump and 11.5 trillion under Grandpa Joe in 2.5 years. so basically 20 trillion in 12 years, should we not have a family discussion hey guys we have to look at the credit card bill and start takin steps to quit spending trillions more than we make, Sid would have us bow the knee and say thank you thank you federal government. SID its our money

Anonymous said...

Syndicating Salter must surely be a cheap proposition. How else to explain the appearance here of these doodlings of Salter that impart nothing that we don’t already know and don’t conclude tiddlytwat.

Anonymous said...

Sid is making a fine argument to wean the State off of the federal teat.

Anonymous said...

It's not a 'manufactured' crisis. Imagine managing your own finances the way our federal government does.

Imagine spending everything you have, spending everything you earn as you earn it, and maxing out every credit card you have. Then in response to being in that situation, instead of reducing your spending and bringing your debt down, you go out and sign up for more credit cards you can max out. Then when they max out, you go looking for more to max out.

That's basically what our government does with its repeated raises of the debt ceiling. The ceiling is there for a reason - you get yourself in more trouble every time you go past it.

Anonymous said...

Kicking the can down the road...that's what politicians do. Why hasn't Bennie chimed in?

Anonymous said...

I keep waiting for the column where Sid quotes Paul Krugman to buttress his 'debt is good' arguments.

Anonymous said...

I didn’t read it, stopped at “Sid Saulter”

Simple Math;
Government takes in (2022);
4.9 trillion
Government spent
6.3 trillion 2022
(1.4) more than we had

What would I cut?

170 billion to Ukraine for their pensions, salaries and war for lobbyist
500 million to UN
450 million to WHO who locked down world for the flu
750 million to support illegals.
=350 billion just like that
That’s a 27% reduction from a guy who has hs degree and has to pay his own bills with out lobbyist help.

Do as everyone does, reduce spending

Government has “baseline” spending increases regardless of need
Example, your “dept” had a 100 dollars in budget last year, this year your new “baseline” is 108
so if you get 106 it’s a cut even though it increases automatically and Sid Screams like a teenager over cuts..

But our “MS Values” guy w an accounting degree will spin it and take a pic for his Facebook and church post..

Meanwhile, no cuts, 4 trillion in extra spending the next 2 years and keep thinking they care…

Anonymous said...

@8:16 - your numbers are not even close to accurate. Try again.

Anonymous said...

your pretty close on President Obama, as I recall he had to finish bailing us out for the financial crisis Bush created . Trump is closer to 7T, let’s face it Covid funds are the reason for most of that. President Biden is at 2.5T here again most of this is about Covid.

Anonymous said...

FYI - In this example Sid is just the messenger. But go on and fire away. The problem is that MS would literally cease to exist without federal subsidies. Think back-woods swamp in colonial America. The state consumes more than it produces. The rest of the country would love nothing more that to get MS off the payroll. The debt ceiling is another matter entirely - political theatrics in a divided government. With only a thin majority in the House, Republicans have no leverage on appropriations - or any legislation. The debt ceiling doesn't authorize new spending - it just allows the Treasury to pay its bills.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I see Chris McDaniel arrived at 9:26am. Good luck in that endeavor

Anonymous said...

I say we take that Yankee money as long as we can get it. Hee, hee, heeee.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, right, Bush created the subprime mortgage crisis.

Anonymous said...

How much longer? We have more billionaires than ever. The gap between the ultra-rich and the average worker grows each day non-stop. Yet the average worker will become more dependent on government help as he ages. The average working man/woman is falling behind in in his ability to provide a descent living and a secure retirement, yet the needed government help is fast becoming fiscally unsustainable. Mississippi is just one of the dependent states, there will be more and more. Cut spending? Where?

Anonymous said...

Think back-woods swamp in colonial America.

How does that differ from MS-02 today?

Anonymous said...

I never worry about the Trump crazies taking over our government.They couldn’t survive without disability,Medicare,and Social Security payments. Much easier to gnash their teeth and spit against the wind while pocketing the cash.

Anonymous said...

Why do people worry about the debt our country owes? We are not going to ever pay back a single penny. Do you actually think any country is going to tell the U.S. it wants their money back? They can keep on lending us money or we will just take it from them. Does anyone remember the talk about the trillion dollar coin, or it is only a billion dollar coin? If the other countries ever get serious about their money we will just make a boat load of those coins and send some to them. It doesn't cost much to make them.

Face it, we are a bully country. We will get their money one way or the other. The only worry we have is some country deciding they are going to stand up to the bully.

Anonymous said...

10:03, approving handclap.

Anonymous said...

“Think back-woods swamp in colonial America.”, what does it say about you, that you describe where you live as a back-woods swamp? If you don't live here, why are you wasting your precious time on a back-woods swamp?

FanDango said...

We are consuming more than we produce, as a society. The only way that can happen is if someone else consumes less than they produce. Mississippi has a labor force participation rate of only 55%. That is, only 55 percent of our working-age, non-disabled population is performing any gainful employment. We have LOTS of consumers and a dearth of producers. Why our society, particularly our state, continues to subsidize able-bodied layabouts is a mystery to me.

Anonymous said...

If the average taxpayer had any idea how much money is wasted by the military/DOD, there'd be revolts. Give me the pen and I'll cut the DOD budget by half and get more done.

Anonymous said...

What percentage of adult Mississippians pay no income tax?

Anonymous said...

9:28 is absolutely correct. That's the best explanation of what the federal government is doing. And guess who's going to be responsible for paying all this money back - NOT the federal government but the taxpayer!!!

Anonymous said...

"Mississippi taxpayers receive $2.73 back in federal spending for every dollar in federal taxes paid." Correction: MS residents receive $2.73 back in federal spending for every dollar MS taxpayers pay. I'm a taxpayer and I don't receive Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment, etc. I imagine most MS taxpayers are in my shoes. Honest question Sid, what would those numbers look like if you removed Bennie Thompson's district from the equation? I imagine the other three districts in MS are a little more profitable for the Feds. If the Feds cut entitlements, no skin off this taxpayer's nose.

Anonymous said...

Take federal dollars from Mississippi and Mississippi would be a third world country.

No medical care. Gravel roads. Airports from the 1950's.
Malnutrition. Early death.

Long live the federal government.

Anonymous said...

12:06 Where do you stop? Remove Bennie's District and things look a little better. Maybe remove YOUR district next and things would look better still. Remove another district and things look even better.... Finally, let's just keep the richest district and settle on that.

I'm a taxpayer with no school children but I pay taxes for public schools. I'm glad to do it if the alternative were a population of illiterates with
no hope of advancement. Some stuff is necessary. Some. Otherwise it would be skin off all our noses.

Anonymous said...


You apparently aren't aware but many public schools produce a population of
illiterates with no chance of advancement. It is skin off your nose.

Anonymous said...

trump started this giveaway shit and nobody complained because everybody was getting something free including those on this blog complaining about government spending. apparently its ok to piss away government money when it is to "me."

Anonymous said...

@1:01 PM, like Sid, is perfectly accepting of a status quo producing meager results with zero accountability for the non-delivery of incremental improvements.

Anonymous said...

1:23 So you want to cut out public schools because some aren't doing well? Let's improve them. I graduated from public schools paid for by taxpayers like me and I'm glad for it. I've done OK. Some guys didn't graduate or take advantage. So what? What's your point?

Anonymous said...

"Why do people worry about the debt our country owes?"

Because the "creation" of debt forces the Fed to create more supply of money which devalues the currency I rely on to purchase goods and services, robbing me of my savings and wealth. Are you really that ignorant of economics 101?

Anonymous said...

Trump Trump trump dems wants to blame trump for ruining everything. deflecting blame from current party in power that have multiplied any mistake Trunp made by 100. But Yes next time my wife asks me to do a Honeydo Ill say but Trump and see if works

Anonymous said...

If Congress created currency in accordance with Art.1, Sec.8 of the U.S. Const. take a guess what the national debt would be? Zero. I'll bet there arent three of you morons that understand.

Anonymous said...

12:06 there isn’t one state department in this state that doesn’t touch every district or county. And there isn’t one state department that doesn’t affect them. Every department also depends on federal funds.Your logic is flawed but I suspect you know that. Your getting your $2.73 on the dollar just like everyone else in Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

An old friend (RIP) used to say, “Democrats are Mississippi’s greatest natural resource.”

And he would agree with 10:30 AM, let’s keep taking “that Yankee money as long as we can get it.”

P.S. When will Sid write about how much PPP and Payroll Tax Refund money has been paid by the FEDs to very wealthy owners with booming businesses (so much money some can buy airplanes and beach homes with the $$$ they didn’t need)??? This story may be the greatest scam in American history never to be reported on (but the lawyers are in on the scam so big surprise, right?)

Anonymous said...

“Mississippi taxpayers receive $2.73 back in federal spending for every dollar in federal taxes paid.”

I’ll show ya my paystub and tax returns and politely disagree.

For what I’m putting into federal taxes, I’m sure not getting my money’s worth.

Bunch of deadbeats (both liberal and conservative) in this State.

Then again, we DID change the flag and businesses are lining up to move here now, so help is on the way for our pathetic tax base!

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to learn Salter-Math:

"...the federal government spent $6.5 trillion in Fiscal Year 2022 and collected just over $5 trillion in revenues, which left a federal budget deficit of some $1.45 billion.

How do trillions become billions? (other than a 70 year old trillionaire marrying a 30 year old blonde)

Anonymous said...

Looks like Michael Guest didn't get Salter's memo.

Anonymous said...

@8:41 am
Do you really think “Ms values” votes on anything without permission?

I bet you think he is for stopping illegal invasion too lol

Anonymous said...

9:16 your number for Trump is wrong. $6.7 trillion not $2 trillion.

Cassie Nova said...

@7:51 - Raise your hand if you still have that faded Obama-Biden bumper sticker on your ride.

Anonymous said...

Of the $2.73 Mississippi receives back from the fed; $1.90 is stolen by government agencies. $.60 is used to pay back favors to donors and $.23 is unaccounted for.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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