An Unsustainable Debt

Interest payments on our $34 trillion national debt will soon exceed our spending on defense.

An Unsustainable Debt

As the saying goes, “Somebody’s gotta pay for it.”

Maybe, but it won’t be the U.S. government. Uncle Sam is flat broke, but he keeps the Federal Reserve’s printing press in motion 24/7.

Let’s not forget that we have to borrow that money, which means we have to pay interest. For years, politicians from both parties claimed that as long as we could pay off the interest, we’d be in good shape. But that’s easier said than done when the debt is astronomical.

“The government shells out more money, by far, on its military and defense than any other country in the world,” reports the Washington Examiner. “Yet that category of spending is set to be far exceeded by payments on the debt. A decade from now, in 2034, annual interest costs are projected to be a whopping $1.6 trillion. That is a staggering 45% higher than the U.S. is forecast to spend on defense in the same year.”

At least back in the ‘80s, there was serious talk about tackling the debt to save our children and their grandchildren from the burden of paying it down. For years, Republicans prided themselves on being fiscal hawks, but that hawk didn’t fly for long. Ultimately, it took the partnership of Democrat President Bill Clinton and Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich to balance a budget.

Since then, Republicans and Democrats have thrown up their hands and continued to spend like there’s no tomorrow. And at this rate, there won’t be a tomorrow — at least one in which young Americans can hope to live better than their parents.

This debt is like walking down a railroad track with a train off in the distance but roaring toward us. We’ve heard the train coming for decades, though, and now it’s decision time.

Bloomberg recently ran a million simulations on the U.S. debt. The results? According to Fox News: “Bloomberg … found 88% of them show borrowing is on an ‘unsustainable path.’ The findings come after a forecast by the Congressional Budget Office that indicates the national debt will grow to an astonishing $54 trillion in the next decade, the result of an aging population and rising federal health care costs. Higher interest rates are also compounding the pain of higher debt.”

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, inflation, student loans, food stamps, foreign aid, cash for illegal aliens, tens of billions for Ukraine, climate change schemes, and, let’s not forget, the trillions for the COVID-19 crisis. To pay for it all, the Federal Reserve just prints more money.

This causes inflation and gives people the impression the government has money in the coffers when it doesn’t have any at all. Essentially, we create Monopoly money and place the burden on the backs of the people.

“When a person or business takes out a loan, their borrowing is limited by their earnings from providing real value for other people,” writes The Heritage Foundation’s Richard Stern. “Government borrowing, however, is only limited by how much of the fruits of your labors it will take in the future.”

Stern adds: “That’s why governments don’t really ‘borrow’ — government debt ultimately comes out of your wallet through future taxes or inflation. When governments use this unmatched power, they also crowd out private borrowing. This means families can’t get a mortgage and businesses can’t expand and provide new job opportunities or invest in innovation.”

No wonder Fitch Ratings downgraded the U.S. credit rating last year from AAA to AA+. As The Hill reported then, “Fitch warned that the growing debt — now well over $32 trillion — and Congress’s inability to manage it in a productive and responsible way posed threats to the country’s creditworthiness.”

Meanwhile, neither Democrats nor Republicans have any interest in tackling the debt. It’s all about raising the debt ceiling, borrowing more money, and keeping the printing presses moving.

There was a time when an upcoming presidential election was a perfect opportunity for the GOP to define itself and embrace fiscal conservatism, but Donald Trump and the Republicans aren’t even talking about it. We can only hope that a new wave of common sense comes to Washington in 2025.

We owe it not only to ourselves but to future generations to take the issue seriously.

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