Maybe this is a futile effort — a lone voice crying out in the wilderness and all that — but we will once again sound the alarm over federal debt and deficit.
In mid-October, the U.S. Treasury Department pegged the fiscal year 2019 deficit at $984 billion, a jump of a staggering $205 billion. That’s billion — with a b.
The deficit as a percentage of our economy, commonly called our gross domestic product, rose to 4.6%, compared to 3.8% just a year earlier — the fourth straight annual increase in that ratio.
The Congressional Budget Office previously projected that annual deficits will hit $1 trillion a year starting next year, and will go up from there for the next decade.
The deficits are building the national debt, now about $22 trillion. That’s trillion — with a t.
This is money that must be paid back, and, as this overspending continues, it will place an increasingly heavy burden onto the shoulders (and pocketbooks) of our grandchildren, great-grandchildren and probably great-great-grandchildren. But at least we’re getting a tax cut, right?
With the problem clearly in front of us, objectively stated, this ticking fiscal bomb should be much talked about.
Talked about by our federal lawmakers.
Talked about by the presidential candidates currently crisscrossing Iowa.
Talked about the moderators of candidate debates.
Unfortunately, and tragically, none of that is happening.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem to have a tacit agreement to give each other political cover for their spending spree.
Presidential candidates talk about what more they will do if they get more money — extracted from somebody else, of course. They studiously avoid any talk of belt-tightening and doing without in order to contain runaway spending.
And the journalists on presidential debate panels thus far aren’t not helping. Some appear more interested in asking sound-bite questions than delving into topics as patently un-sexy as debt and deficit. According to the Reason Foundation, more than 300 questions have been asked at presidential forums thus far. How many of those questions have been about the national debt? Zero.
Aside from Reason, Concord Coalition, Fix the Debt Coalition and similar organizations, debt and deficit is getting the silent treatment.
Since presidential hopefuls, other candidates and even national journalists won’t talk about it, the responsibility defaults to everyday citizens. Now, constituents and attendees at candidate appearances and town halls should be asking the questions.
Whether the office is the White House, Senate or House, and whether they are Republicans or Democrats, candidates should be pressed to address a topic they appear hell-bent to avoid: Washington’s addiction to spending.