Debt is not even a national problem anymore. But it should be

What are we talking about these days?

This week is abortion. Before that, it was Elon Musk who bought Twitter, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and COVID-19 restrictions. All are important issues (other than Elon Musk), but our leaders and our media are enthusiastically avoiding a crisis that has threatened us for decades.

Politicians used to talk about it, as long as they could blame the other party. Today they are silent. Yet here I am, like an Imperial Japanese soldier on a forgotten island in the Pacific, fighting a war that ended years ago.

It’s time for my annual editorial on the national debt.

Graph bleeds in red national debt

I’ve updated this chart every year since 2012 and it just keeps getting worse. After George W. Bush nearly doubled the debt, Barack Obama nearly doubled it again. During his term alone, Donald Trump raised it by more than a third. Joe Biden is spending more money than we don’t have.

It’s an imperfect analogy, but imagine that green is your salary, yellow is the amount you spend on top of your salary, and red is your credit card statement. Then you brag to your spouse, “Don’t worry, honey, I just increased our debt limit with a new credit card!”

A simplification, yes, but that’s what an analogy is. There are few ways humans can understand such high numbers.

Most debt charts look like a toddler throwing his spaghetti dinner against the wall, intending to obscure rather than educate. That’s why I’ve created a user-friendly debt chart focused on three big numbers: deficit, income, and debt.

All figures come directly from the US Treasury and the Congressional Budget Office.

Our national debt is spiraling out of control, although you won't know that by the way the government continues to spend.

Both sides spent money that we don’t have

With each update, I see the same complaints. The Wonks say the chart should be weighted for that variable or I should add lines showing that trend. Some on the right criticize him as being too tough on the GOP while most on the left insist the debt doesn’t matter because… well, it just doesn’t, to deal ?

All are free to create their own graphics to better suit their story, and I’m sure they will. But the numbers cannot be rotated by both sides.

An old counter-argument claimed that the debt was good because interest rates were at historic lows. Today, those rates are skyrocketing, so critics should take that duck back. I just hope that the childish idea of ​​minting a few trillion dollar coins gets dropped as well.

The graph is brutally bipartite. Debt has increased under Republican presidents and Democratic presidents. It has increased under the Democratic congresses and the Republican congresses. In times of war and peace, in times of boom and bust, after tax hikes and tax cuts, the Potomac ran deeper and deeper in red ink.

Why don’t we yell at them to cut more?

Math doesn’t care about fairness or good intentions. Spending far more than you have, decade after decade, is insane when done by a Republican or a Democrat. Two plus two does not equal 33.2317 after taking into account a secret “social justice” multiplier.

On the contrary, my graph is far too optimistic; I am not talking about future projections due to the explosion of rights. Instead of mocking conservatives for scuttling Build Back Better or attacking Democrats for not defunding the military, we should be shouting at them all to cut more.

Much more.

When George W. Bush left office, the federal debt stood at $10 trillion. When Obama left, it was $19.5 trillion. As I write this, we are now $30,427,867,588,389 in the red.

Our leaders like to talk about sustainability. Forget sustainable – how sane is that?

Unfortunately, it seems that no politician will look into the matter. At least until the next massive financial meltdown.

Mesa resident Jon Gabriel is editor of and contributor to The Republic and Follow him on Twitter at @exjon.