New year, new chance to actually tackle debt
As Americans celebrate the beginning of a new decade, we continue to allow a serious challenge to escalate to crisis proportions. It is the national debt — $23.2 trillion as 2020 began.
Thoughtful Americans understand the perils of a big national debt. It can increase inflation. It diverts about 7% of annual spending to interest payments (roughly $280 billion per year). It is an obligation that has to be paid off at some point.
For many years, economists and realistic politicians have warned us we simply must stop using deficit spending to fulfill our every wish as a nation. Yet not only do we continue to do that, we have stepped up the pace.
Just five years ago, the national debt was only about $17.8 trillion. By the end of this calendar year, we will have added at least $6.5 trillion to that.
The debt today amounts to more than $70,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. If you are a homeowner, chances are your family’s share of the debt is higher than the value of your residence — probably a lot more.
Of course, not all of us share equally in funding the federal budget and thus, in liability for the debt. It is nearly $188,000 for every taxpayer.
We have resolved many times in the past to deal with the debt. This new year would be a good time to stop breaking such resolutions — before the consequences catch up to us.