Retired man fixes fiscal cliff one can at a time
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CNN) - A Texas man is fed up with the country's debt and all this fiscal cliff talk, so he's doing something about it -- he's collecting cans.
Atanacio Garcia, 85, has sent a little more than $3,000 to the government to help pay down the national debt, all tracked on a handwritten ledger. For the last three years, Garcia has been paying the government $50 a month of his postal service pension and money from cans he collects.
Call him crazy, but there's an entire federal office, the Bureau of Public Debt, that collects money from hundreds just like Garcia. It was set up by President Kennedy so citizens could pay down the national debt. This year alone, it's collected $7.7 million in gifts; about $90 million since it was established.
In the grand scheme of things, $90 million isn't that much, considering the federal debt is $16 trillion and climbing. To retire the debt, every American would have to pay $50,000 but Garcia says you've got to start somewhere - especially when Washington won't.
The partisan bickering has bothered him since 1992. That's when Garcia first wrote his congressman suggesting a formula to eliminate the debt. The Depression era-kid and Army veteran says he's giving back to a country that's given him so much.
His sense of duty is infectious. His daughter is now collecting cans at work and his grandson drives Garcia to friends' houses just to collect more cans.
Garcia knows that his monthly money orders won't avert the fiscal cliff but his priest says that's not the message Garcia's sending Congress.
"In order to really solve the $16 trillion national debt, you have to have sacrifice," said Rev. Martin Elsner.
Politicians talk about kicking the can down the road. One American has decided that road has to end and it might as well start with him.