Some of my conservative friends, when I criticize the president, respond that a President Sanders would be even worse for the deficit. True — but that makes it all the more important for those of us on the right to vigorously challenge the president’s reckless financial path. If the left has abandoned all sense of fiscal discipline, we have to be the ones to talk numbers that most seem to have somehow forgotten.
Here are three things to ponder for those of us who believe in math, markets and sustaining the American dream.
First, despite the president’s words, financially we have never been as vulnerable as a country since the Great Depression and World War II. We have never run deficits this big in peacetime. What happens to them when the economy cools?
Even today, with low interest rates, the fastest-growing spending item for the federal government is interest on the national debt. Over the next 10 years, we are projected to move from spending about $400 billion in interest a year to about $1 trillion. That could amount to over $7 trillion in interest payments.
Second, such persistent debt will have enormous consequences for national security — it always does. The historian Paul Kennedy, in his book “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers,” argues that military might without healthy budgets to back it up leads to a hollow force, good on paper but unprepared to fight. I agree. We should all be worried by the fact that we will soon be spending more on interest than on our military.
We should also worry that foreign ownership of our debt has risen to 40 percent. If foreign ownership of one’s debt were the road to military or economic strength, then Zimbabwe and Argentina would be world powers.
Finally, our growing debt makes the American dream more elusive, and in doing so weakens us all. A trillion-dollar deficit is nothing more than a deferred tax bill for $1 trillion. For a country that was in part founded on the notion of no taxation without representation, how does this pilfering of future generations’ wealth possibly make sense? Our children, and their children, will have fewer and fewer life choices and chances, thanks to our profligate spending.