Budget Experts Call for ‘Bold Leadership’ to Cut National Debt

By Katrina Willis, 8-11-17, at Daily Signal:

Politicians continue to put their interests first in ignoring looming consequences to the massive and growing U.S. national debt, experts on the economy said at a recent forum.

“We are facing the largest, most predictable crisis in U.S. history, and almost nobody is talking about it,” warned Romina Boccia, deputy director of economic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.

“We need bold leadership,” Boccia said.

“The numbers are really terrifying,” Brian M. Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said of the mounting debt that is nearing $20 trillion, adding:

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone.

If you just look at nominal dollars, as the CBO sets it, in the next 30 years, the national debt will go from $20 trillion to $92 trillion. That’s the rosy scenario. That assumes no wars, no terrorist attacks, no recessions, and that interest rates stay low.

Boccia and Riedl spoke during a panel discussion, “U.S. Debt: Causes, Costs, and Consequences,” held July 12 at The Heritage Foundation in Washington.

Also on the panel were Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, and David Barnes, policy director for Generation Opportunity.

How We Got Here

Panelists pointed to an aging population and political expediency as the two biggest reasons for the out-of-control spending driving the debt increases.

Barnes said lawmakers lack the incentive to prioritize long-term strategies over short-term re-election concerns.

“As long as we, the people, don’t hold lawmakers accountable, we’re never going to get out of this problem, because we prefer to get something today and put off tough decisions,” he said.

Both Tanner and Riedl said that many short-term votes by Congress are a consequence of the electorate’s aging demographics. Politicians are rewarded for protecting entitlement programs, they suggested.

“When I look at the debt, I look at the fact that we are spending more than we take in,” Riedl said. “The reason for that growth, according to CBO? A hundred percent of it is Social Security, health care, and the interest on the debt.”

Why People Should Care

Despite relative silence from Congress on the debt, panelists said, it should be a top priority for lawmakers and their constituents.

“It makes us poorer, to start with. The CBO indicates that young people in the midcentury will have income between $3,000 to $5,000 a year less than they would if this debt didn’t exist,” Tanner said.

“It’s also making us poorer today. Companies look at this mountain of debt and ultimately see it as future taxes, future problems for their borrowing, and they therefore invest less and slow their expansion,” he added.


How to Control Debt

Barnes said dollar-for-dollar spending reductions could be “a start” in addressing the problem.

Related legislation would create mandatory spending cuts to match increases in the debt ceiling. That’s the thrust of the a bill proposed by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

“Some broader budget process reforms are needed as well,” Barnes said.

“I think there’s going to have to be some overall cap on the growth rate of debt,” Tanner said. “Something of that nature for overall debt, where debt exceeds X percent of GDP, you can’t spend. That will at least force them to debate the issue.”

Katrina Willis is a member of The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program.


“We need bold leadership,” Boccia said. Yeah well, we don’t have that, and we never will as long as Congress focuses all their attention on the lobbyists and on fund-raising for the next election.

I agreed with most all the comments until I got down to the part where Barnes said “As long as we, the people, don’t hold lawmakers accountable, we’re never going to get out of this problem, because we prefer to get something today and put off tough decisions.”

At this point, it’s important to separate the ‘we’ from the ‘they’ because ‘we’ the people are ready for some tough decisions, but ‘they’ the politicians aren’t. They prefer passing bad ’Band-Aid’ legislation over actually tackling the problem, and that is cleaning up the fraud in Social Security and Medicare. Clean that up and we have money to pay toward the interest on the debt.

They’ve gotten into this bad habit where a handful of guys will put together a bill that sounds better than it is, then they try to sell it to their fellow Congressmen rather than ask for input up front and actually create good legislation the majority can agree on.

We will never get the people to hold lawmakers accountable, because there are too few people paying attention, and those who are sit on two different sides. Until more of our population wakes up and realizes their input is needed, things will never change.


Categories: Political

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8 replies

  1. Convention of the States. Term limits.
    Otherwise we will never get control of these monsters again.

    Interesting though how we decreased our debt during and after WW2!


  2. Another thing that our government could learn from the private sector is the concept of probationary workers. That means that, during a probationary period, if a worker doesn’t perform (at least) satisfactorily, he or she doesn’t get to keep the job.

    If only our inert and unengaged voters would ask themselves whether their senator or representative performed their job well enough to keep it – and be honest with themselves.

    How can anyone look back over the multiple terms that some of these people have had to DO something – yet did NOTHING of consequence – and continue to accept their actions as “satisfactory”?


    • That’s a good point, Garnet, but when grown men and women don’t have the honor and integrity to do their job well, even when people aren’t looking, then something needs to drastically change. In the private sector, not only are some employees on probation for the a set number of days when they begin, but they are always scrutinized for performance as long as they’re employed.

      Congress has gotten uppity – they’ve elevated themselves above the working class, and they need more talk like they heard from Trump to bring them down a few notches.


  3. “Bold leadership”?

    No sweat!

    McConnell, Ryan, McCain, Snow, Collins, and the rest of the Establishment PSP!

    Oh, wait…….

    We’re doomed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m a little pissed of here. The entitlement program is because of the aging population? As if I’m the problem? BS take away food stamps crap to illegals, free phones, free that, make those 22 years get off their asses and work. Screw you politicians forum experts I worked 55 years and still do some so don’t be blaming this shit on us

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree bescher. There are those of us who worked all our lives, putting into SS and deserve every measly scrap we get, but they talk more like it’s our fault instead of facing the truth. They are the ones that allowed all the waste and fraud into the program, so they need to clean it up and stop trying to punish the ones who paid into it.

      It will never happen though, because it’s too massive and we’re talking about people who don’t even clean up in their own house.

      Liked by 1 person

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