Here is a chart (click to enlarge!), tracking interest paid by the government on the national debt, since 1990. This fraction of the federal budget also is growing. That’s because the national debt is getting bigger. For other purposes, it may, but for this, it really doesn’t matter which supposed “side” of the debt-bloating duopoly you prefer. Administrations (purple, my addition) and Congresses of both parties have been in place during debt-growth periods, and therefore, increases in interest payments.
Ignore and/or mock those who claim the national debt is not a problem. They are naive, unknowing, shallow, woefully and likely willfully ignorant of basic economics, and are not to be taken seriously.
Why federal debt not just a problem…but a crisis? Among a vast many other things, the proportion of the budget taken up by interest payment balloons, all other aspects get crowded out. As the fraction of the budget that goes to interest gets larger, less and less money will be left over for every other Federal budget aspect. Hard choices must be made. Austerity must be undertaken. That ultimately includes your favorite budget programs, and mine.
Austerity doesn’t win votes, so the can keeps getting kicked, money keeps being printed, inflationary times raise interest rates, the national debt grows larger (raising interest payments even when rates stay the same or fall), and this budget parasite swells up still further.
It’s a vicious cycle that media is almost wholly ignoring. It’s not sexy. It doesn’t involve Hollywood celebrities, British royalty, the “transgender” fad, prosecution of politicians, failure to prosecute politicians, famous pro athletes, whiny Tik Tok influencers, or other titillating clickbait that passes for “journalism” now. And it’s over 30 trillion times more important than all that put together.
The time will come, maybe in my lifetime but certainly in my children’s, when:
* Republicans’ favorite spending targets — military programs, home-district pork, the secret state, endless overseas wars — get crowded out of the budget by debt interest. Then what?
* Democrats’ favorite spending targets — social-entitlement programs, home-district pork, the secret state, endless overseas wars — get crowded out of the budget by debt interest. Then what?
* Bipartisan-supported beneficial and popular functions of government that take up very small budget fractions — air-traffic control, meat inspections, railroad safety, natural-disaster response, national parks, and yes, dangerous-weather forecasting — get crowded out of the budget by debt interest. Then what?
* We cannot afford even basic defense of the nation from foreign attack or takeover. Then what (besides the need to learn Mandarin)?
Those times are coming. Maybe in two decades, maybe in five. When they do, however, and the government no longer can afford to fulfill whatever you think or the Constitution directly mandates is its function, this republic is lost, forever.
I used to wonder why the end-times prophecies of Revelation never mentioned nor even hinted at an overseas superpower akin to what the U.S. has been, far from the Middle East. Between our own malignant moral and cultural decrepitude, and the upcoming fiscal implosion of debt-interest dominance of the budget that self-destroys the nation as anything relevant or powerful on the world stage, now I know.
There are solutions — painful, sacrificial, all-encompassing ones that yes, involve intense austerity — but as long as politicians pander to their bases and want votes, and the populace/lemmings don’t question things in a critical mass big enough to matter, we’ll keep marching toward the cliffs in ignorance of the fall that awaits.
Pray for your children and grandchildren. Even without an asteroid, no matter what happens with climate, regardless of anything going on abroad: tough times are on the way, the likes of which this nation has never experienced.