When discussing the national fiscal situation, it is easy to get lost in staggeringly large numbers, numbers that are so consistently large that eventually, they begin to blur together, leaving observers in a sort of fiscal shock wherein spending and debt amounts cease to be real or tangible and are instead almost imaginary.
Every now and then, though, pieces of information come through that shine a different light upon the situation and make the grave situation clearer.
In his recent article on the National Review Online, Kevin D. Williamson points out one number to keep in mind.
763 Billion Dollars
What is the relevance of this number, which is approximately 16,470,232 times the average US family income?
If enacted, Barack Obama’s latest budget would mean that in just ten years, interest payments alone on the national debt would begin pushing the trillion-dollar mark: $763 billion a year by 2023. That may be a rosy estimate: It assumes that interest rates, currently near historic lows, do not rise a great deal over the next ten years as the Treasury continues to pile up new debt. If interest rates do climb a bit higher — not even to their historical average, but higher than they have been of late — then those interest payments easily could be more than $1 trillion a year.
That’s right. The national debt has ballooned to such proportions that its interest payments alone could soon total more than $1 trillion a year.
The following CBO chart stopping in 2011, shows the current situation, hardly ideal now, and certainly looking to get worse.
Sometimes, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. Rows of zeroes, and charts that don’t seem to affect our daily lives. Calculations that seem beyond our reach, and leaders that surely know what they’re doing, right?
And sometimes, a little bit of information comes along that brings back down to earth how fantastically absurd our financial situation is, and how out of touch spending-happy leaders truly are.
One doesn’t have to be an economist, mathematician, or politician to see this absurdity. Our nation simply cannot withstand much more on this track. It is time for leaders committed to striking at the root of this problem by pledging to Reject the Debt, and time for citizens who will remain vigilant to holding them to their promises.
We absolutely can and will right the fiscal ship, but sometimes it takes a little wake-up call to remind us of the gravity of doing so.