After saddling the country with as much new debt as the rest of the world combined in one year flat, one would think that Uncle Sam wouldn’t have the cojones to dish out debt advice to others. But one would be wrong. In an unwitting self-parody worthy of Froma Harrop on The Daily Show, the Federal Trade Commission has created a step-by-step web guide for Americans “Knee-Deep in Debt.”
The first step, says the agency, which represents a government that went over 800 days without passing a budget, is: create a budget! Get a “realistic assessment of how much money you take in and how much money you spend,” it lectures those in financial doo-doo, seemingly oblivious of the fact that its own bosses have promised $60 trillion to a $100 trillion more in entitlements than the country has money to pay for.
It continues: [L]ist your "fixed" expenses — those that are the same each month — like mortgage payments or rent, car payments, and insurance premiums. Next, list the expenses that vary — like entertainment, recreation, and clothing. Writing down all your expenses, even those that seem insignificant, is a helpful way to track your spending patterns, identify necessary expenses, and prioritize the rest.
Prioritize! Who knew that the word even existed in the federal lexicon? But “irony” obviously does not because the FTC, with a straight face, goes on to offer advice for those who are not “disciplined enough to create a workable budget and stick to it.” And by this it doesn’t mean our elected representatives.
And its advice is not that over-extended Americans call their credit card company and demand that it raise their credit limit every time they max out their card, as Uncle Sam has done 75 times since 1962. It suggests that they consider —wait for this!—“debt settlement.” And if no one is willing to settle, then the option of last resort is bankruptcy, although it warns its repercussions can be “long-lasting and far reaching.” No kidding!
No word on whether the White House of Capitol Hill have glanced at the guide. Or maybe they are waiting for the agency to create one for those “Neck-Deep In Debt But Too Stupid to Know And Too Obtuse to Care.”