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Shutdown, debt ceiling debates reveal true issues at our core

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Our government is shut down. At the same time, our leaders are arguing about whether to raise the debt ceiling.

For weeks, these two issues have been at the forefront of every media outlet. Americans can't open a paper nor turn on a TV without hearing about them. People are concerned and asking, “What does a shutdown mean to me?”

These are serious concerns and should be debated and discussed. However, we need to get the heart of the matter. Essentially, we need to realize that these two issues boil down to the same thing: We as a country are spending too much money.

Our leaders are not seriously discussing spending less, and they are not looking at the real issue at hand. They are using the air time to push their own political agenda. What we need is a true discussion about our spending.

It's pretty simple: Our government raises about $2.6 trillion of revenue (mainly from taxes), but spends around $3.7 trillion. This is just simple math; we are spending more than we make. We are adding to our debt at unprecedented levels. In less than four years the debt has doubled and has been driven to roughly $17 trillion.

So what should Americans be concerned about? How will all this debt affect you? These are the questions that Congress should be debating.

Americans should be more concerned about where they are putting their money in order to protect it from this issue.

I can't come out and say "taxes are going to go up." I will not attempt to predict which way our congressional leaders will take us. What I can do is forecast; I can take the information at hand and attempt to make sense of it.

Here is what I see. We are at the lowest tax levels we have seen in this country in almost 60 years (except for top earners, whose taxes have already gone up this year). At the same time, we are at our highest debt levels ever. Just put it together, see through the smoke screen that is being blown in our face. It is time to get serious about your own finances.

Take a serious look at how you are investing your dollars. Don’t just think about the type of investment, but focus on how those dollars will be taxed in the future.

If you lose money in the stock market, you have a chance that it might come back. However, if you are forced to pay a higher tax on your hard-earned and saved dollars, that is never coming back. It is gone forever.

Yes, the shutdown can be scary and a higher debt ceiling can cause concern. But a permanent tax increase on your IRA during retirement can be devastating.

Don't just keep investing the way you have in the past. Our government continues to run as it always has … and look where it has gotten it. Sit down, take a look at where your money is going, and ask the hard questions.

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Joe Wirbick

Joe Wirbick

Joe Wirbick is the president of Lancaster financial services firm Sequinox. Joe specializes in retirement planning and distribution. Tax information is provided for informational purposes only.

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