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By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

Some good news – President Trump will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires in November. Can they jump start a process to resolve our trade war? We hope.

The European Union has agreed to give the U.S. a larger share of their beef market. We like that. The Senate passed water policy legislation.

We have been trying to get the Congress to authorize money to be spent on our waterway system for years. Maybe now we can do something to update and repair our crumbling locks and dams. 60% of our grain exports go down the river.

Today, I want to spend some time on a subject that we should all be concerned about. That subject is debt. During President Obama’s years with a nationwide recession, our federal debt doubled to nearly $20 trillion. With our booming economy now, it is not getting any better.

Our fiscal year just ended and our government debt jumped $779 billion. The 2017 year’s debt increase was $665 billion. With tax reform and tax cuts now in place, our economy keeps growing. But the modest increase in tax income is not keeping pace with the annual increase in spending. All the welfare programs – Social Security, Medicare, etc. – are on automatic pilot. Our population is getting older and qualifying for more federal money. Defense spending is up. Also, with our debt rising and interest rates increasing, that will cost more money.

If you are a farmer or any individual, when spending exceeds income, you know you are in trouble. That’s where our nation is today. We are not alone. Countries all over the world just can’t help themselves. We have states and cities in the U.S. that keep piling up debt. Why do governments keep doing this? The answer is simple. Citizens don’t want to see anything taken aware from them. They want the government to give them more. Elected officials are going to give the voters what they want. That’s how they buy votes.

There are things we could do to help control our growing debt burden, but with the mid-term election coming up, no one wants to talk about it.

After the election, we should focus on balancing the budget. That cannot happen without a bipartisan approach. President Trump suggested cutting spending 5% across the board. We shall see.

John Block was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill.  If you would like to review his radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to

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