The national debt clock is spinning faster every year.
At last check, it was approaching $16.4 trillion. Just four years ago, it wasÂ $10.6 trillion.
The skyrocketing number is, to say the least, reason for concern for everyÂ American.
As of today, every household in the United States owes about $140,000 of thisÂ debt.
The country is borrowing roughly $6 billion every day, and $239 million everyÂ hour. Put another way, that’s $4 million every minute.
The country runs up so much debt for a fairly basic reason — it spends farÂ more than it takes in. This year, for every dollar in revenue the federalÂ government brought in, it spent two dollars and six cents. That shortfall overÂ the course of the year adds up to the annual deficit. The national debt — orÂ total accumulated debt — is the sum of all annual deficits, minus anyÂ surpluses.
Politicians talk about deficits and the debt all the time. But how to getÂ politicians to come to some agreement to get the debt clock to slow down, orÂ even tick back the other way, continues to be a challenge.
It might help to look at the arc of the national debt over theÂ decades.
Throughout U.S. history, while the amount America owes has ebbed and flowed,Â our habit of spending more than we take in is nothing new.
While the U.S. is currently at the highest level of debt ever, 1835 saw theÂ lowest-recorded debt at just $34,000 under President Andrew Jackson. There wasÂ an unsuccessful assassination attempt on him that year.
In 1865, a president who was killed in an assassination attempt, AbrahamÂ Lincoln, oversaw a debt of $3 billion.
The numbers would eventually grow.
Fast forward to “Black Tuesday” in 1929, the most devastating stock marketÂ crash in U.S. history, and the national debt rose to $17 billion.
Then came World War II, and by D-Day in 1945, the debt had ballooned to $259Â billion.
Following the 2008 financial crisis — which is often referred to as theÂ start of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression — the debtÂ crossed the $10 trillion mark.
And it continues to rise, well past $16 trillion today.
Economist Robert Genetski, author of the book “Classical Economic Principles & the Wealth of Nations,” believes history shows that when governmentÂ spending increases much faster than spending in the overall economy, the privateÂ sector and economy overall suffers.
“(From) 1945-1947, there was a huge cut in government spending because of theÂ winding down from WWII, and the people who thought government spending wasÂ holding the economy up were all predicting a major depression at that time,” heÂ said.
“What happened was for the first time in 15-16 years there was a hugeÂ increase in private spending on goods and services per person … and that wasÂ the real recovery. The recovery wasn’t World War II when we were fighting forÂ our survival and spending money to ensure that survival, the real recovery cameÂ after World War II.”
Bill Clinton’s budget director Alice Rivlin noted the challenge in curbingÂ spending.
“Many people rail about the government does too much — on the other hand, asÂ soon we have a serious storm they are saying the government hasn’t done enough.Â So you have to be very specific about this,” she said. “The driving force forÂ additional government spending is not discretionary spending. It’s this comingÂ tsunami of older people that we have to cope with and, yes, we expect MedicareÂ spending to grow. And the question is does it have to grow that fast, and IÂ don’t think it does.”
John Taylor, a Stanford University economist, said because of the interest onÂ the debt, time is running out to deal with the problem.
“There’s lots of people that will lend to us so far as long as our debtÂ doesn’t get so large they become suspicious that we’ll pay it back,” he said.Â “If we don’t correct this problem, interest will tend to dominate our wholeÂ spending — it’ll be greater than defense or Social Security.
“We have history to guide us. When debt gets too high, people are skepticalÂ about lending, then you run into a crisis like we’ve seen in Greece and manyÂ other countries.Â So it’s dangerous when it gets too high, and we areÂ moving close to that dangerous level every day.”
Source: Fox news