On Sept. 14, the House Budget committee published a speech where they asserted that the nation’s $19.5 trillion national debt is now a security threat to the stability of the country.
In their oratory on the House floor last week, the Budget Committee reported to Congress that the amount of debt that the government has accumulated has now reached the point where it in itself is creating a fiscal crisis that will soon be unsustainable and too big to deal with through fiscal policies.
Today, the nation’s total debt tops $19 trillion. At the end of the ten year budget window, over the next decade, CBO projects we will borrow another $8.6 trillion – accumulating a total level of publicly-held debt equivalent to more than 85 percent of our economy. That is twice the average level of the past half century. It is the highest our nation has had since the end of World War II.
Of course, unlike the 1940s, today’s debt is not being driven by a massive, temporary mobilization of military might. In 2016, our debt trajectory is being driven by a chronic imbalance in our nation’s budget, for which there’s no end in sight under current policy and current law.
In fact, today’s growing debt is not so much the result of defeating a threat to America’s national security – as it is the threat itself. The fiscal imbalance we face; the uncertainty that is sown into our economy by a looming fiscal crisis – this all weakens our nation.
And yet, despite all of this, there are many who are saying that because interest rates are so low that we ought to borrow even more money – run up the credit card while credit is relatively cheap.
This is horribly short-sighted thinking. Publicly held debt is over $14 trillion – more than three-fourths the size of our economy. We are already past what economists say is a sustainable debt burden – let alone advisable or fair to leave our kids and grandkids. - House Budget Committee
The sad irony in all of this is that the problem emerged not through some mysterious ‘black swan’, but from the entire group of elected officials who not only allowed the nation to become engaged in a decade’s long war, but who also voted to both raise the debt ceiling multiple times, and more recently, remove the debt ceiling altogether so that President Obama could spend at will.
It is unknown whether this speech last week on the House floor was a political stunt, or an actual call to arms to finally reign in a debt that has been accumulating at a near exponential rate since President George W. Bush was in office. But no matter the outcry, the fiscal crisis that is the national debt is long past being a security threat, and now it is only a matter of time before the rest of the world rejects our money, and leaves the U.S. unable to function as the world’s greatest superpower.
Kenneth Schortgen Jr is a writer for Secretsofthefed.com,Roguemoney.net, and To the Death Media, and hosts the popular web blog, The Daily Economist. Ken can also be heard Wednesday afternoons giving an weekly economic report on the Angel Clark radio show.