On Thursday when the Congressional Budget Office forecast a federal deficit of $984 billion for fiscal 2019, the Concord Coalition quickly condemned lawmakers’ lack of concern over our federal government’s reckless spending.

The $984 million deficit amounts to 4.7 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and represents an increase of $206 billion compared to the 2018 deficit, according to the Concord Coalition.

Although only a few in Congress seem to have the intelligence and political courage to fight overspending, our nation’s fiscal health ought to matter more to the people we Americans send to Washington, D.C.

That was the view of the late Kearney native Peter G. Peterson, who was instrumental in forming the Concord Coalition, an organization that has fought deficit spending for decades. Peterson, who was secretary of Commerce in 1972-73, had a wealth of knowledge about corporate America and the nation’s economic underpinnings. He was so worried about Uncle Sam’s risky reckless spending that he devoted a portion of his personal wealth publishing books and, later, establishing the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to combat deficit spending.

Why should Americans care about Uncle Sam’s debt?

We should care because we’re approaching the point when repaying the debt will be impossible and our government will be forced into drastic budget cuts.

In about 15 years, several major funds will become insolvent. Spending then would be cut to match revenues. Imagine Medicaid being cut by 13 percent or Medicare by 24 percent. People who depend upon those funds, or Social Security, are in for a rough ride.

Peterson no longer is with us. He died in 2018, but thankfully his Concord Coalition and Peter G. Peterson Foundation still are sounding a warning about reckless spending.

Is anyone in Washington listening?

Anderson’s big idea

This week when the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association announced Buffalo County was receiving a $38,000 dividend, we recalled the work of insurance man Jim Anderson of Kearney, who served 1983-2001 as a Buffalo County supervisor.

Anderson was instrumental in forming NIRMA, the risk-sharing group of 82 counties that has saved Nebraskans millions of dollars in insurance costs.

This is the 24th consecutive year NIRMA returned dividends to participating counties, which save on property, liability and workers’ compensation coverage, and risk management services.

Anderson, 87, passed away in June, but the risk-sharing pool he organized will continue to save Nebraskans money for years to come.

With this latest distribution of $38,000, Buffalo County’s total has grown to $915,115 in dividends. Next year, when NIRMA announces its 2020 dividends, remember Anderson. Those dollars returning to Buffalo County are his legacy.

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