On October 31st, the United States’ national debt hit a new milestone in reaching an exuberant $23 trillion. This comes less than nine months after the debt reached the milestone of $22 trillion in February, and less than eleven months since it passed $21 trillion. Yes, all of those are trillions—with a T. However, it’s difficult to envision the sheer magnitude of this gargantuan toll on our nation. So, we should be put into perspective.
Suppose you go to Germany, and while there, you go to every town. In every town, you visit every store. In every store, you go to every shelf and grab everything that is for sale. The amount of money you spend will not be $22 trillion.
If you go to Germany and then to France and you go to every town, and, within every town, you go to every store. In every store, you look on every shelf and you buy everything. You still will not have spent $22 trillion.
You can go to Germany, France, and the United Kingdom and purchase everything that’s for sale, and you still will not have spent $22 trillion.
In fact, you can go to every country in Europe, visit every town, in every town, go to every store. In every store, go to every aisle and buy everything and you would still not have spent $23 trillion. That is the monstrosity known as the U.S. national debt.
So what are we going to do?
First, it is important to understand the root of the problem: Congress. Currently, Congress has been taking a course of action on federal spending that can be best summarized as a New Year’s Resolution as was done by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) on the Senate floor in late July of this year.
As Congress continues to delay the moment until something happens, the task doesn’t become easier; it becomes more complex as the task snowballs. This is how spending has become the monster that it is in Washington. So, to borrow a quote from President Kenedy, “If not us, then who? And if not now, then when?”
It’s clear that Washington is not desperate to do anything, so this responsibility will fall to younger generations of Americans. Luckily, reports from the Congressional Budget Office show how previous generations have dealt with the national debt and these could help shed light on how this ever-growing monster could be slain.
Throughout the history of our country, there seems to be a trend for the first 200 or so years. During a number of periods of crisis in American history, the government has accumulated more debt; that is, a more-than-average amount of debt as a percentage of our gross domestic product. There are various peaks, most of them following a major war, in some cases some other type of crises, like the Great Depression.
But, in each of these instances, there was a distinct, unmistakable reason why these instances occur. Should it be any surprise that the government spent more than what it took in when having to fight a war during a horrendous depression? Of course not, but once those reasons went away, the debt as a percentage of our gross domestic product went back down.
However, in the last few years, as we came out of the 2008 recession, we’ve enjoyed a profoundly significant historic recovery in our economy. The economy in which we now live has more people employed in virtually every demographic than a few years ago we would have considered likely. Notwithstanding that fact, our debt as a percentage of our gross domestic product continues to increase.
So how will all this end? Well, if Congress wants to have any chance of driving us out of this $23 trillion hole, they need to grow a spine and start tackling the issue sooner rather than later.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.