Does Anyone Care About the National Debt?

There have to be lots of things that drive us crazy. Some are major like health issues or our kids. Others are just frustrating, like the guy that delivers our two papers (Austin Statesman and Wall Street Journal) out here in the country and seems to actually aim them for the drainage ditch that runs under the driveway! But back to the theme here.

People who run for office year in and year out on "A balanced budget" must just be in la-la land. Very few voters really seem to care, because the average person finds it beyond his/her ken to worry about some abstract number of trillions of dollars of national debt. Yet it does make a difference, since some (increasing) portion of the annual budget must be spent on paying the annual share of this. But in all honesty, even as pundits go on and on about how our children and grands and great-grands will have to pay for it, and this is correct, someday the debt will start to affect the economic strategy of this country.

As one little piece of data, and I do this in the context of the Republican Party as the official debt hawks who claim to care about this, the actual data show that since the large recent tax cut, which affected a handful of Zillionaires, but really affected the corporations and cut their taxes by a lot, contributed to quite a robust economy ... at least for a year or two. The national debt will increase by over $1 Trillion this year alone. This is unprecedented in a boom year. And it means that when (it will come) we enter a recession, it's going to be even harder to stimulate the way out, since debt really piles up both within and exiting a recession. The current debt will run at around 5% of the GDP this year, in a boom economy! The only other two five-percent deficit periods since WW2 were in 1983 and 2009. The latter followed the horrible melt-down in late 2008 when the banks and our entire financial system nearly collapsed after the real estate loan collapse occurred.

The last national surplus occurred when President Clinton was in office.

The Trump administration recently projected that the annual deficits would ... are you ready for this? ... are you sitting down? ... would finally decrease to beneath $1 Trillion a year,  yes a year, by 2022! That depends on an expanding economy of 3% annually for the next decade, AND no recessions during that time. Please read this paragraph again. No one believes this.

Again, no one seems to want to talk about it this year, and it's really, really rare when the economy booms yet the country racks up a huge deficit. We all know it's happening. I think it's disingenuous that no one in the Republican (or really Democratic) party talks about it at all.

And off we go.

Enjoy life, it's the only one we will get.

Jim George


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