America has money scorching a hole in her pocket. Like many a college student with a credit card, Lady Liberty is racking up charges she knows she can’t pay when the bill comes in at the end of the month. Her spending far exceeds her income and, by the end of 2009, the amount of money she owes will be well over 9 trillion dollars. Were she a person, she would have no hope for early retirement, or maybe even any retirement at all.
How did America, one of the richest countries on the planet, end up in this situation? The new documentary I.O.U.S.A. helps to answer that question. Directed by Patrick Creadon of Wordplay fame, the film follows former US Comptroller General and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation David Walker and the Concord Coalition’s Robert L. Bixby around the country on their “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour.” Bixby adds comic relief as they trace the history of the national debt, revealing startling facts like, the only year in US history that the federal government was ever one hundred percent debt free was 1835.
The film identifies the four deficits facing the United States-a budget deficit, a savings deficit, a trade deficit, and a deficit of leadership, and through the use of charts, graphs, and animations, highlights the major problems inherent in each deficit. With more and more of a reliance on foreign lenders and presidents who have been more interested in cutting taxes and remaining popular with voters, little has been done to address the issue. If the US continues overspending at the rate it has been, by the year 2040 the national debt will account for 244% of the Gross Domestic Product. The film ends with a sobering message that 85 million dollars was added to the national debt during the 90 or so minutes of the movie.
The situation, however dire it may be, is not completely hopeless. There is still time for Americans to take notice and pressure their politicians. Whether you’re a democrat or a republican, if you’re an American, this is one film you have to see.
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