Worrisome National Debt: What We Need To DoPosted: May 12, 2017
Worrisome National Debt
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
Close to 50 years ago, a fairly widespread put-down of worries about the national debt included the ridiculous claim that federal indebtedness was nothing to worry about because “we owe it to ourselves.” Anyone trying to get his portion would find how ridiculous that claim was. And 50 years ago, the national debt was less than five percent of the astronomical total that has been reached today.
At the end of the first week in May 2017, the admitted national debt stood at $19.9 trillion. That’s $19,900,000,000,000, an amount hard even to imagine. Before the current month passes into history, the $20 trillion plateau will be reached. Can a nation spend itself into extinction? The answer is yes. And our nation is doing exactly that. Let’s look at some figures.
When the U.S. government spends more than it takes in, it borrows. It might seem a bit unbelievable, but one of the two greatest holders of U.S. government debt is Communist China. The Beijing regime and Japan each hold more than $1 trillion in IOUs signed by U.S. officials. This means that our government is in hock to China, not only for the amount the Chinese Reds provided, but also for interest on the trillion dollars they have provided.
China happens to be a country whose leaders have declared America to be an enemy they seek to destroy. Beyond what is sent to China annually, interest payments go to Japan, Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, and numerous other countries holding U.S. bonds. And, of course, many American citizens have loaned money to the government, and they have to be paid interest as well.
Interest payments to other countries – and to any private individual who holds a U.S. bond – total $442 billion per year. That’s not too far from the current annual deficit. If there were no need to send interest payments to existing creditors, Congress and the president might be able to balance the budget. But interest has to be paid.
The situation described above isn’t the whole story. The $19.9 trillion admitted indebtedness happens to be a grossly incomplete amount because unfunded future obligations aren’t considered. The two largest and unfunded federal programs are Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security. These two currently spend more that $2 trillion per year and the money to keep them going has to be borrowed. The noose around our country’s neck is getting tighter every day.
The United States has become the greatest debtor nation in all history. This is a situation that ought to be front-page news every day – but it isn’t. It ought to be the lead item on the daily newscasts on television and radio – but it isn’t. It ought to be a topic for serious examination in economics classes at colleges and even high schools – but it isn’t.
The accumulated national debt of the United States arrived at the $1 trillion figure during the Reagan administration. Each succeeding president (Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama) has presided over steadily worsening increases. Annual deficit spending and borrowing to cover it reached new highs during the Obama years. The George W. Bush years weren’t much better.
Just a brief glimpse at all of this red ink is frightening. So, the question arises: What to do about it? How about terminating foreign aid? America, drowning in debt, actually gives away money. How about getting the federal government out of education, energy, medical care, and other areas where it has no constitutional authorization to be involved? How about putting an end to the U.S. military being the policeman of the world?
In other words, how about a real change at the top that would see our leaders standing solidly behind their oath to abide by the Constitution? If they would honor their oath, deficit spending would cease, paying off creditors would begin, and America would soon cease being in hock to other nations – especially to any that are sworn enemies.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.