But continued US primacy is simply not possible unless we address a third critical challenge, which is to bring the spiraling US public debt under control. Over the last decade, the gross federal debt has nearly tripled to more than $17 trillion and now exceeds the total national GDP. While there are many reasons for the continuing surge in public debt, including the 2008 fiscal crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the principal factor has been the growth of entitlement spending, which has gone from less than one-third of the federal budget a half-century ago to more than two-thirds today. In the words of Robert J. Samuelson, “The welfare state is taking over government.” Other priorities are steadily being squeezed, from investment in infrastructure and human capital to international programs and even defense spending, which is expected to shrink by forty percent over the next decade. Richard Haass is thus entirely correct when he writes that “American profligacy at home threatens American power and security.” Unless we can summon the political will and bipartisan consensus to reverse our domestic decline, no amount of strategic vision will enable the United States to exercise the kind of leadership that the world so desperately needs.
When a turf dispute erupted between the two unions, an agreement was eventually reached, allowing Local 27 to keep Westchester Carting, but allocating organizing of future carters to Local 456. The agreement did not last long, however, as Local 27 splintered, spawning Local 813, to handle carters specifically, under the direction of Bernie Adelstein, a business agent for Local 27, who had become heavily involved in Westchester Carting. 15 Adelstein was still active as recently as 1985 and will be referred to again in the section of this report dealing with union corruption in Long Island.