Fiscal Responsibility

Our country already is weighed down by a mountainous $31.4 trillion in debt, and we have more bills coming due every day. Worse yet, America is on pace to add another $20 trillion in the next decade unless we change course. By 2052, interest on the national debt will eat up more than half of our national budget. What should we do?


If an irresponsible family member ran up a big debt on your credit card, you probably would help pay it off (if you could), but then you would discontinue or limit their future access to the credit card. That is what America should do right now.


First, we must continue to make timely and full payment on the bonds issued to borrow the $31.4 trillion. A second step is equally crucial, however. America should raise the future debt limit only to the extent necessary to meet our previous commitments, coupling that increase with future budgetary constraints to stop the rapid accrual of additional liabilities. We need to seal the deficit by managing spending and reducing tax breaks for special interests. This will mean Congress saying “no” to constituents when it is in the country’s long-term best interests to do so.


As with all issues, the national debt is a topic to which America’s leaders should apply fundamental principles. Applicable here are the principles of limited government, protecting the vulnerable, freedom and free enterprise, transparency, integrity, dignity, and respect.


There is no question who is responsible for the current predicament. We all are. Both parties are. All members of Congress—past and present—are guilty. As for our most recent Presidents, the national debt rose $8 trillion while President Trump was in the White House. President Biden’s plan, even with his proposed tax increases, projects $17 trillion in additional debt over the next ten years. Everyone is responsible.


The main thing American voters want now is for this problem to be fixed. In a recent poll, 76 percent said deficit reduction should be one of Congress’ top three priorities.


Edmund Burke defined human society as “a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who have yet to be born.” Using Burke’s definition, are we acting today as responsible partners for human society? No, not if the United States continues to spend so much borrowed money.