Is Growing National Debt No Longer A Major Issue?

It appears Washington is again prepared to ignore the deficit and growing national debt and press forward on more “important” matters. Consider how small an issue this was for most Republicans when they passed their tax bill. America is already over twenty trillion dollars in debt and it was projected that debt would grow another ten trillion dollars over the next decade, so is adding another one and a half trillion more during the next ten years such a big deal? Apparently, Congress has decided that it is not and so has the president which is confirmed by his recent tweet.

  Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America. Special thanks to @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell and Chairman @SenOrrinHatch for shepherding our bill through the Senate. Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas!

Click Here To View The National Debt Clock

Several years ago America negotiated or shall we say, was able to survive the financial cliff (a combination of expiring tax cuts and across-the-board government spending cuts that were scheduled to become effective Dec. 31, 2012) and muddle through what was described as a draconian sequestration. This has emboldened many Americans and left them feeling immune to economic reality which has put us on the part towards financial disaster. To the American people, a rising deficit that has yet to yield dire consequences has given us a false sense of security. It is also clear that running up debt is far easier than paying it off. We should also be aware that figures released by the U.S. Treasury are for public consumption and it relies on accounting tricks which massively understate how much debt is really being accumulated. The myth that a scenario of growth coupled with a falling deficit will allow us to outgrow many of the problems we face brings with it a false optimism and hope.

Estimates Have Been Very Very Wrong

It is important to remember predictions of future spending and revenue often turn out to be wrong. The chart to the right predicted that by 2019 the national debt would top 12 trillion dollars. Projections made by the government or any group predicting budgets based on events that may or may not happen at some future date are simply that, projections or predictions and not fact. This means that such numbers are totally unreliable. Sadly, when President-elect Trump taking office in early 2017  the National Debt Clock was ready to breach the 20 trillion dollar mark. This means the deficit during the Obama years ran at over twice the nosebleed levels that had been projected. Yet, this appears to have raised no red flags as we continue to hear from the media how robust economic growth has helped push the U.S. budget deficit down. These claims bantered about by Washington and the media have helped push the stock market into new territory and reassured America that all is well.

We often confuse and muddy the waters when we talk about the debt, one way we do this is to emotionally charge the issue by seeking which administration or President is to blame. While Bush left office with the economy in the sewer most the resulting deficit occurred on Obama’s watch.  Over the last few years, the Obama administration has touted how the deficit is dropping and the economy is on the mend. Don’t expect a chart put out by somebody with an agenda to clarify this issue, long ago I learned that looking at a chart to see how we are fairing can be very deceiving, little things like the scale or how they are colored often blur how we interpret their message. This has led some Americans into thinking the worst of our problems are now in the rearview mirror. One thing is clear and that is only by looking back decades do we see just how large this problem has grown.

As things stand America continues to rack up a deficit each year of nearly $2,500 for every man woman and child in the country, such deficits were unheard of in the past unless it was during a major war. Deficit spending has been accomplished by borrowing money that will become a long-term drag on the economy going forward. To make matters worse the government has fiddled away the time in deadlock rather than pursuing the structural reforms we so desperately need. This means much of this money has been poorly spent in ways that do little to address the deep problems that plague our economic future. Even the tailwind of lower energy cost through the massive expansion of oil and natural gas supplies has not been enough to move the economy forward. Much of what we have seen should be considered a “one-off” that is behind us. Bottom-line all this trickles down to job growth which has been nothing to brag about when you consider many of the positions being created are not “quality” or even full-time jobs.

Even though we have seen deficits reach unprecedented levels the deficits in our future will be dramatically worse. Any claim that Washington has the budget deficit back under control is a total lie. We are currently mired in the midst of the greatest government debt bubble in the history of the world. By our actions or lack of action, we are destroying the future of this nation. Only when we use the massive 2009 deficit as a baseline are we given the impression the budget is back under control, it is clear that 2009 was an unplanned budget disaster and should never be used as our reference point. The ugly truth many people choose to ignore is that starting in 2017 entitlements will become the driving force that carries the deficit higher and higher into nosebleed territory.

The fact is with the artificially low-interest rates of today many people seem to have little desire to cut spending. We are literally gorging on debt, and most Americans seem to think that it is just fine and dandy to wildly run up debt as if there is no tomorrow. Way back in 2011, the “Gang of Six” committee’s bipartisan plan proposed three dollars of budget cuts for every one dollar in tax increases, after much tough talk this has all been forgotten. The irony is that today lawmakers are again looking at boosting spending on both defense and infrastructure programs at the same time they cut taxes.

If you want to know what the real budget deficit is, all you have to do is go to a U.S. Treasury website which calculates the U.S. national debt. Below you will find the amount of debt outstanding on an annual basis from 2000 through 2015. This includes legal tender notes, gold and silver certificates, etc. The first fiscal year for the U.S. Government started Jan. 1, 1789. Congress changed the beginning of the fiscal year from Jan. 1 to Jul. 1 in 1842, and finally from Jul. 1 to Oct. 1 in 1977 where it remains today.

Date Dollar Amount
09/30/2015 18,150,617,666,484.33
09/30/2014 17,824,071,380,733.82
09/30/2013 16,738,183,526,697.32
09/30/2012 16,066,241,407,385.89
09/30/2011 14,790,340,328,557.15
09/30/2010 13,561,623,030,891.79
09/30/2009 11,909,829,003,511.75
09/30/2008 10,024,724,896,912.49
09/30/2007 9,007,653,372,262.48
09/30/2006 8,506,973,899,215.23
09/30/2005 7,932,709,661,723.50
09/30/2004 7,379,052,696,330.32
09/30/2003 6,783,231,062,743.62
09/30/2002 6,228,235,965,597.16
09/30/2001 5,807,463,412,200.06
09/30/2000 5,674,178,209,886.86

To find more historical information, visit The Public Debt Historical Information archives.

H/T: Bruce Wilds


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