Time to wake up and smell the debt

We’re totally screwed.

by Ian Haworth – July 03, 2023

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan federal agency within the legislative branch that provides Congress with information regarding the nation’s budget and economy, released its annual long-term budget outlook, which aims to project what the “federal budget and the economy would look like over the next 30 years if current laws generally remained unchanged.”

The report outlines areas of focus, including deficits, debt, spending, revenues, and changes from previous projections, with each section painting a dire image of America’s future.

But one area should be sparking terror among the populace: debt.

“By the end of 2023, federal debt held by the public equals 98 percent of GDP,” the CBO said. “Debt then rises in relation to GDP: It surpasses its historical high in 2029, when it reaches 107 percent of GDP, and climbs to 181 percent of GDP by 2053.”

“Such high and rising debt would slow economic growth, push up interest payments to foreign holders of U.S. debt, and pose significant risks to the fiscal and economic outlook; it could also cause lawmakers to feel more constrained in their policy choices,” the CBO added.

So, if we continue on our current path, in 30 years time, the federal debt will be 181% of the United States’s gross domestic product, the monetary value of all the goods and services produced by the entire country in one year. In other words, we could liquidate the entirety of the nation’s production in 2053, and we would still be in debt.

And what is our current path? Well, it’s one of spending more than we have and borrowing or printing money to make up the difference.

And why, as we stare down the barrel of passing the highest level of debt recorded in American history at 106% of GDP in the aftermath of World War II, are we doing nothing about it?

Well, there are two key reasons.

In the House of Representatives and the Senate, over 54% of its current members will be 90 years old, or older, by 2053. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden will be 111, and former President (and current presidential candidate) Donald Trump will be 107. It seems callous to say, but the brutal reality is that the vast majority of our current Congress won’t be alive to see the rotten fruits of their labor.

And because they won’t have to face the long-term consequences of their actions, why would they choose to face short-term political suicide by acknowledging that they are blindly steering the entire country off a cliff?

Because we, as a populace, are also to blame. We refuse to accept that government programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which make up almost 11% of GDP todayhave to be rebuilt (or scrapped) for us to survive. We refuse to hold our elected officials to account when they waste billions, if not trillions, of dollars in pursuit of their own bumper sticker legacy. And, most damaging of all, we refuse the blame for handing the federal government unfettered power over our money while we foot the bill through inflation or taxes.

The debt could sink us all. It’s time to realize that Congress is dragging us down into the abyss.

Ian Haworth (@ighaworth) is the host of Off Limits with Ian Haworth. You can also find him on Substack.

Washington Examiner