Cal Thomas – The public curse of public debt


MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, September 10th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Commentator Cal Thomas now on fresh evidence of Washington’s spending problem.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Amid all the presidential campaign coverage, you may have missed the latest report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). It isn’t a good one. For the fiscal year ending this month, the CBO projects the federal deficit—that’s how much the government spends beyond its means—will hit $3.3 trillion. That’s more than triple what it was last year. 

Overall, U.S. government debt is on pace to surpass 100 percent of GDP next year—meaning more debt than the country’s entire economic output in a single year. By comparison, the debt was “only” 35 percent of GDP in 2007. 

The pandemic is partially responsible, but it is too easy an excuse to blame a virus for politicians of both parties to stop spending and reduce debt. The federal government continues to take in record amounts of revenue, but it goes out the Treasury’s door as fast as it comes in.

Very few in Washington ever speak of the harm debt causes, and this report provides the latest example. Where are the campaign promises and plans to stop this runaway train? Most candidates don’t even pretend to care anymore. 

Maybe that’s because we the people haven’t demanded it of them. Maybe it’s also because the media and the opposing politicians demonize officials who make even small attempts to rein in spending—calling them uncaring toward the poor, children, the elderly, etc. 

It isn’t that we don’t have sufficient warnings about the dangers of debt. It is that the politicians and those who benefit from their largesse refuse to heed those warnings, instead putting their careers ahead of the welfare of the nation. 

Take President Trump, for example. In 2016 he promised to eliminate the national debt in eight years. Instead it’s ballooned from just under $20 trillion to $26.7 trillion as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly struck spending deals with former Democrat and current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin—and the president has signed them into law. 

Meanwhile, Joe Biden says we haven’t spent enough. He wants to raise taxes, including those on capital gains, to pay for his $7 trillion spending plan.

Fiscal restraint used to enjoy bipartisan agreement. 

Republican President Ronald Reagan said, “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.”

Democratic President John F. Kennedy believed economic growth occurred when lawmakers cut taxes and reduce spending. He believed high taxes slowed capital formation and reduced risk-taking—while lower taxes produced more revenue for the Treasury. We’ve seen that proven time and time again, including after the 2017 tax overhaul

Kennedy couldn’t get nominated by today’s Democratic Party. 

Recently I quoted several of our wise Founders who warned against debt. I won’t quote them all again, but we’ll link to those in today’s transcript. 

But I’ll remind you of what James Madison said: “I go on the principle that a public debt is a public curse, and in a Republican Government a greater curse than any other.”

I’m Cal Thomas.


(Photo/iStock)

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