Home Editorials Just A Thought On The U.S. National Debt, 10/22/2013
Just A Thought On The U.S. National Debt, 10/22/2013 E-mail
Written by Roy Mandina   

America recently went through a sixteen day period described by many in the media as a “crisis.” I am of course referring to the government shutdown which ended with a deal made  last Wednesday night that more or less suspends the fighting for a few months. What most Americans witnessed was  the banging-of-heads between the two party system in Washington on two different subjects; the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, (commonly known as Obamacare) and the battle over raising the debt ceiling. What no American witnessed was a crisis.

While this fiasco was titled a “shutdown,” 83% of the federal government still functioned as normal. I have yet to meet anyone whose life was affected by this event in any meaningful way. So why does the media refer to this event as a crisis? In my opinion, this is a “sleight of hand” trick used by the media, and govt. officials, to prevent the voting populace from concentrating on the real crisis; the U.S. National Debt.

Though the fight in Washington is concentrated on the funding of the ACA, the issue which “shutdown” the govt. was the raising of the debt ceiling.  The Republican’s position was that a constant raising of the debt ceiling will only guarantee that America will fall further into debt. The Democrats position was that the ceiling must be raised because the money has already been spent and America’s credit rating, which has already been damaged, will suffer further. And both of their positions seem to change depending on which party is in power. There’s an old saying in Washington that says, “ Where a man stands on a position depends on where he sits.” The Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling 7 times under Bush.  And Obama, who criticized republicans and attacked their integrity for not wanting to raise the debt ceiling, had this to say during the last administration on the subject of the debt ceiling: “Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem. The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. Over the past five years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is  ‘‘trillion’’ with a ‘‘T.’’ That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers.”

Enough on duplicitous presidents and shifting positions of parties. Let’s concentrate on the real crisis. Right now 45 cents of every dollar spent by our government is borrowed from other countries. And just like when you and I borrow money, our government must pay interest on that loan. What the U.S. owes out right now is just over 17 trillion dollars. That is an astronomical number! To me  it’s as if many Americans listen to the rhyming sounds of million, billion and trillion and give them equal considerations. For that reason I took the time to do some unique calculations. Consider this:  One million dollars is a line of thousand dollar bills, (end to end with no gap in between) which stretches all the way across Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. A billion dollars is a line of thousand dollar bills which stretches all the way from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to Monticello race track in Monticello N.Y., 97 miles away. A trillion dollars is a line of thousand dollars bills that stretches around the Earth, four times!  I have also calculated that to count to 17 trillion it would take 9,218,097 years.

The reason for my calculations is to try to give some concept to the numbers we are dealing with. On our 17 trillion dollar debt, (which is calculated to be 23 trillion when Obama leaves office) we are currently paying $415,688,781,248.40 a year just in interest. By the end of next year we will be paying 500 billion a year in interest. Just consider this. That is enough money to give one million Americans a half of a million dollars each. If only 20% of them opened businesses, and if they only employed 5 people in each business, that would add one million people to America’s work force. One million more people working, paying taxes, and paying into the system, not taking out.

What this all comes down to is Americans are being hoodwinked into believing that our debt is not a crisis, but that shutting down 17% of the government is. Our debt is not sustainable! Our debt is being thrown on to future generations of Americans which includes our children and grand children. We need to eliminate our national debt. We need to immediately stop spending our children’s money. Our government should never be allowed to spend more money that it has.