Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Every year for the last 40 years, the United States has run short of money in the budget. To fill the shortfall, the General Fund borrowed from the Social Security fund, but that still wasn’t enough. To make ends meet, we borrowed even more. The total accumulated debt is now $20,000,000,000,000. That’s twenty trillion, with a T.
That number does not include the cost of promises the government will be obligated to pay in the future such as Social Security and Medicare, the 20 trillion number is only the total of the promissory notes signed to fund government operations in the past. Covering the cost of all government promises is closer to 100 trillion, give or take, depending on who you talk to.
We’re not paying down the debt. We’re making the minimum monthly payments on existing debt while running up ever more debt, month after month, with no end in sight.
I don’t care whose fault it is.
No, I really don’t care whose fault it is. Finger-pointing and blaming is useless blather, at this point.
I want to know what we’re going to do about it.
The reason it comes up is because Republicans in Congress are talking about reforming Obama-care to make it affordable enough that the government can continue to offer the program, but Democrats are screaming the reforms will make the program unaffordable for individual citizens. Both have fair points. Both fail to address my point.
Can government programs run in the red forever? Can public debt be accumulated forever? Is there literally no limit to how much debt we can run up?
If so, why? That’s not true for private individuals or corporations. If it’s true for government, there must be a reason why it’s true. What’s the reason?
Let’s ask Paul Krugman.