84 years of debt and counting

84 years of debt and counting

Almost every American who was alive in 1934 is gone now.  But their deficit spending isn't.  They never paid for it.  In fact, all $21 trillion in deficit spending from the past 84 years is still on the books.  The United States hasn't paid off any deficit spending since the New Deal.

Whether you walk forward or backward through the Treasury Department data, the FIFO accounting conclusion is the same.  The last time the United States paid down some of its debt was the 1956/57 fiscal year.  The funds went toward debt from 1933/34.  The remaining debt from 1933/34, and all the debt since, is still paying interest and setting records.

The longest the United States delayed paying for its deficit spending prior to 1957 was 56 years.  In 1919/20 it paid off debt from 1863/64.  Now, the United States is setting a new record.  It's at 84 years and counting.

Public debt has dreadful consequences.  Debt greater than 90% of GDP is associated with economic growth being "roughly cut in half."  The United States reports it's currently at 103.8%.  And that doesn't include trillions in "intragovernmental holdings" that are actually debt too, meaning the true figure is much higher.  All this debt is causing an obvious downward trend in growth rates at a time when "far too many children are still born into poverty".

Plus, there is a budgeting problem.  The CBO projects debt service will wreck the federal budget and force huge cutbacks within the next 10 years.  The Pentagon and Medicaid will both need to be slashed.  In a very real sense, the government is sabotaging its own priorities.

Yet the government has no plans to start paying down the debt.  In fact, the government has plans to make things worse.  The 2019 budget projects a deficit of $1 trillion.  That's 4.7% of GDP.  In comparison, the economy is only expected to grow 3% this year.  In other words, one year's deficit is going to eat multiple years of growth.  This obviously isn't sustainable.

Deficit spending consumes future production today.  It deserves a very good excuse, like a major war.  But today the United States is engaging in lavish deficit spending during peacetime, atop a mountain of existing debt.  It's not just consuming future production, it's consuming future lives.  Children born in the United States today inherit unfunded liabilities of almost a million dollars per taxpayer.  Needless to say, children born anywhere should start with a clean slate.  The United States is committing a moral crime against the unborn by continuing to deficit spend.

Anyone can see that 84 years is long enough to run a racket at the expense of future generations.  Time flies when you're deficit spending, but the easy times must end.