published Thursday, July 28th, 2011

The holders of U.S. debt

Many of us enjoy spending — but don’t like facing the necessity of paying the bills.

Public officials know this, so they find ways to have government spend lots of money “for us” — giving the impression that though we are the beneficiaries, we somehow won’t have to pay the tab.

That kind of irresponsibility is why the United States of America today faces a debt of $14.3 trillion — an amount nearly equal to our gross domestic product, or everything that all of us combined produce in our country in an entire year.

To whom do we owe our huge national debt?

Well, do you feel comfortable realizing that we owe well over $1 trillion to Communist China?

We also owe Japan and Great Britain hundreds of billions of dollars apiece, and we are deep in debt to a number of other nations, including some that are not friendly to the United States.

To add greater alarm to that unhappy situation, we are now only five days away from our legal debt limit, at which point the federal government will have to stop paying some of its bills and go into partial default.

Republicans are insisting that the debt limit not be raised without correspondingly large cuts in spending.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, for instance, proposed one plan to do that, but he is reworking it because it appears that it would not reduce spending as much as hoped. That is, at least, an acknowledgment that the spending cuts need to be substantial, not mere window dressing.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, continues his unwise call for higher taxes, but even some of his Democrat allies are beginning to back away from their tax hike proposals.

Nevertheless, we remain rather skeptical that major cuts in wasteful and unconstitutional federal spending — without imposition of harmful tax increases — will actually take place, or that the runaway costs of entitlement programs will be reined in.

Neither party in Washington has much credibility when it comes to fulfilling promises of big spending reforms.

We’d love for this time to be the exception that proves the rule, but we’ll first have to see what kind of debt limit deal is ultimately approved.

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