This week, the national debt made the largest daily increase in the national debt in history: according to Treasury Department data, on Tuesday, November 3, it shot up nearly $340 billion. This large spike comes just days after the House approved now-former Speaker John Boehner’s budget deal that will raise federal spending by $80 million and raise the borrowing limit through 2017.
Gregory Korte at USA Today largely attributes this spike to accounting maneuvers in the Treasury Department that “had been using ‘extraordinary measures’ to artificially hold the total U.S. debt under the debt limit imposed by Congress.” Meaning? The debt has technically been growing, but all appearances indicated that the debt stayed at the $18.1 trillion mark since it froze in March. They did this by deferring “payments to pension funds and borrowed from reserve accounts in order to keep the government running.”
On Wednesday, the debt rose another $40 billion, leaving it at $18.5 trillion. (Though I’m sure that’s changed since the writing of this article. If you’d like to see how fast and how far we’re falling into debt, you can check that out at the U.S. Debt Clock.)
It is now estimated that President Obama will leave his presidency with a $20 trillion deficit, doubling the $10.6 trillion figure from January 2009.
On this issue, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) (who went as the terrifying national debt for Halloween) remarked that “we will be raising the debt ceiling in an unlimited fashion. We will be giving President Obama a free pass to borrow as much money as he can borrow in the last year of his office. No limit, no dollar limit. Here you go, President Obama. Spend what you want.”
It looks like Sen. Paul is right, at least on this issue, and has been for quite some time. A debt that was in the trillions was not a reality until the 1980s. Wars, natural disasters and economic crises must obviously be taken into account, as some of the largest debt spikes occurred during the World Wars and the Great Depression. But still, it must be admitted that a rise in progressive economic policies and the vast government spending that comes with them has put this country in a bad spot that may have just passed the point of no return.
It’s time for the children leading our government to look back to our first president, George Washington, for some wise advice. Regarding public debt, Washington declared that “no pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable.”
I should note that at that time, the debt was a mere $80,000,000. I’m sure that $18.5 trillion was an unthinkable figure at that point.
Unfortunately, as illustrated by both the current Republican Congress and the previous Democratic Congresses, it does not seem to matter who’s in control. We just like to spend a lot of money, and we need to get that spending under control.