Good news! (And bad)

Good news! (And bad)

March 6th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

We are a fortunate people and a fortunate country, with a great, productive economy. That economy has given Americans an exceptionally high standard of living throughout our history.

Our "gross domestic product" - everything we produce in goods and services in a year - comes to nearly $15 trillion!

Isn't that wonderful?

While we rejoice about that fact, and what it means to the American people, we hesitate to mention a negative. But it's something we ought to know, and consider seriously: While our GDP for a year is nearly $15 trillion, what do you think our total national debt is?

The unpleasant fact is that our national debt is not very far shy of $15 trillion as well.

It is above $14 trillion - and mounting daily!

So what if we had to pay off all of our national debt (much of it owed to foreign countries) right away? Well, fortunately, we don't have to pay it off all at once - but if we did, it would take nearly everything all of us produced in goods and services for a whole year!

Meanwhile, we do have to pay interest on all that borrowed money. How much is that? It was $414 billion in fiscal year 2010 alone!

Where does all that money to pay just the interest come from? You guessed it: It comes from us taxpayers! That means we have to pay $414 billion a year that is not available for our personal and family use - or even for other, more legitimate governmental purposes.

Well, since we aren't reducing our national debt, what are we doing about it, in addition to paying taxes to cover interest on it?

The sad fact is that we are increasing our debt. It is expected to go up more than $1.6 trillion just this year! And that increases the interest payments.

Do you believe our previous elected officials in Washington have managed well? Do you believe President Barack Obama and a majority in our Congress are managing well now?

It's painful enough to acknowledge that each of us already is on the hook for more than $45,000 of the debt. But even with recent slight budget cuts, Congress has failed to rein in red-ink spending significantly.

There is, unfortunately, no painless solution. But don't you think we should tell the president and Congress to quit making it worse?