The national debt: A ticking time bomb?
America is “headed toward a crisis,” said Tiana Lowe in WashingonExaminer.com. The Treasury Department reported last week that the federal deficit swelled to more than $1 trillion in 2019 for the first time since 2012. Even more alarming was the report from the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicting that $1 trillion deficits will continue for the next 10 years, eventually reaching $1.7 trillion in 2030. That means that the total federal debt will balloon to $31.4 trillion over the next decade, pushing the debt-to-GDP ratio to 98 percent, or the highest since World War II. And this wave of red ink is hitting us during boom years, when the country’s deficits should be shrinking so that we can borrow and spend money to stimulate the economy during the inevitable recession to come.
There’s little doubt who’s to blame, said John Cassidy in NewYorker.com. After campaigning on a promise to pay off the entire deficit, Trump has run up “vast amounts of new debt” to finance a military buildup and the $1.5 trillion tax cut in 2017. Unfortunately, this relentless fiscal stimulus has achieved little, despite the president’s claims of stewarding “The Greatest Economy in American History.” Last year, GDP grew 2.3 percent, nowhere near the 4 percent Trump promised, and the CBO now predicts a steady decline to 1.5 percent by 2025. Americans should be “absolutely furious,” said Jordan Weissmann in Slate.com. Republicans preach frugality with a Democrat in the White House, but burn money every time they’re in power. Just watch: If Trump loses, Republicans will “rediscover their old-time faith in fiscal prudence and start shrieking about how the U.S. is on the road to becoming Argentina or Zimbabwe.”
Don’t blame the Trump tax cuts, said Jake Novak in CNBC.com. The U.S. Treasury just booked a record quarter in tax revenue: $806.5 billion. “If tax revenues are rising, then tax cuts can’t possibly be the reason for rising federal debts.” It’s out-of-control spending that’s the cause. Still, when the deficit bill comes due, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, there’s little doubt that the poor will end up paying for our profligacy. Rather than cut defense or “the vast tax giveaways and subsidies” for the rich, fiscal conservatives will target “safety net programs” like Medicaid and food stamps. That would be redistributing wealth in the cruelest possible way—“from the impoverished to the well-to-do.”