Those who know me well know that I’ve been a fiscal conservative since I was in high school. To me that means trying to live within a budget, even if you are the United States of America. However, it’s pretty hard to balance a national budget with a current debt (total owed) of $21,500,000,000,000.
I first wrote about the federal debt in my fourth newsletter late in 1995. The debt 23 years ago was $4.6 trillion (unless noted, all figures used are from US Department of the Treasury). It’s increased by 467% since then.
The constituency for a responsible budget is quite small. Many Republicans favor a balanced budget, but only when they are not in power. If the President and Congress try to balance the budget it makes most Americans unhappy. If you cut taxes and increase spending for popular programs, it makes most Americans happy.
How much money is 21.5 trillion dollars?
Imagine stacking $100 bills one on top of another. A one inch stack is worth $21,000. A four feet stack is worth $1 million. A stack 3/4ths of a mile high is worth $1 billion. The height of a one trillion stack would be 750 miles high. So, the current federal debt on that scale would be over 16,000 miles high. As a reference, the circumference of the Earth is about 25,000 miles.
What is the deficit and how has it grown recently?
The deficit is how much annual federal expenditures exceed revenue. In President Obama’s last year in office the deficit was $587 billion. In Trump’s first year it was $666 billion. For the 2019 budget year, that number may reach one trillion dollars, a huge increase (Forbes.com 2/9/18). Thank you President Trump and Congress for your fiscal responsibility.
Why do annual deficits and expanding debt matter?
The total federal debt increases with each annual deficit and when interest rates rise. When the percentage of the budget that goes to pay for interest payments increases, less is available for other federal programs: disaster relief, Social Security, Medicare, military, education… Interest rates are going up now and Trump’s ridiculous, deficit-expanding tax law is now in effect. That’s not a good thing—unless you are one of those “fiscal conservatives” that oppose government spending for social programs. Perhaps that is their ultimate goal.
How much did the US pay in interest on its debt in 2017?
About $400 billion.
By how much has the federal debt increased since yesterday?
About $84 million.
Who is the biggest loser when deficits expand?
Below are some articles and sites to check out if you wish to get more pissed off than you already are.
US budget Wikipedia site
The billionaire behind the National Debt Clock has had it with Trump
The Washington Post
U.S. government debt per household is now $127,000 (and rising) Read the full story
As debt rises, the government will soon spend more on interest than on the military
The New York Times
Despite Strong Economy, Federal Deficit Soars – https://www.npr.org/635071790
Tax cuts, spending increases and higher interest rates could make it harder to respond to future recessions and deal with other needs. Read the full story
Trump’s Tax Cuts Did One Thing: Give Rich People More Money
New York Magazine
The economy hasn’t changed much. What’s changed is that business owners have a bigger piece of it. Read the full story