$24 Trillion and Counting…

money+on+fire

I often spend more money than I have. Whether it be sampling the entire Starbucks menu, acquiring indoor plants that will soon die, or buying one Mitty cookie once, my bank account seems to burn into negative numbers under the taxing of daily life. Interestingly, our Federal Government operates the same way. Whether it be creating a Space Force, building a very large transparent fence at the Mexican Border, or paying $40 million to protect Mar-a-Lago (yikes), the U.S. government staggers to nearly $1 trillion in the red, every single year.

So, why can Trump overdraft $1 trillion on the national credit card when my card is declined under the deprecating gaze of a Starbucks barista?

Two words: deficit and debt.

When government spending is higher than collected tax revenue, a budget deficit occurs. To fill this gap, the federal government borrows money from the public by issuing securities — bills, notes, and bonds — through the Treasury. The White House’s FY 2020 budget puts U.S. government spending at $4.75 trillion versus its projected revenue of $3.65 trillion, meaning $1.1 trillion worth of securities will be sold to investors this year. The heaping national debt is the accumulation of each year’s deficits.

The reason the debt is able to grow and grow is that no politician is really for less government debt. If they are, their actions certainly don’t follow. In 2017, Trump slashed the corporate tax rate, which blew a near $1.5 trillion hole in the deficit.

As candidate Trump said on in the 2016 campaign trail, “I’m the king of debt. I understand debt better than probably anybody. I know how to deal with debt, so well. I love debt.”

We know — everything you do is bankrupt, including the American government. However, you, President Trump, are far from alone. Democratic Presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would huff and puff the deficit off a cliff to a cold, dreary demise.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Medicare for all, free college, subsidized housing, and guaranteed jobs would force taxpayers to pony up over $40 trillion. This would be on top of an already unfolding budget crisis in two mandatory government pay-outs: Social Security and Medicare.

The Wall Street Journal projects that these two unfunded liabilities will cost the U.S. government $50 trillion over the next 75 years. Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff calculates that managing this expense alone, without deficit spending, requires a tax hike of more than 60%.

The crux of the issue is that politicians are lying to us about what the government actually costs. In the past decade taxpayers were charged $27.2 trillion for federal services that cost $35.6 trillion, meaning Americans got 27% more for their tax dollar. This has led Americans to no longer worry about the magical number in the sky that finances a quarter of their government.

Since 2011, the number of voters who worry “a great deal” about federal spending and deficits has fallen from 64% to 51%, while the national debt has increased 45% over the same period. And as long as no one worries about the price, what’s stopping politicians from just swiping the credit card?

Every debt must be repaid, and it’s time every politician explains how much of America’s future they’ve sold away. Because eventually, the creditors will want their money back — and when they do, the US government will get far more than the deprecating gaze of a Starbucks barista.