May 19, 2022

The Debt Bomb – Has Saving Us Today Destroyed Our Future?

Can debt create prosperity?

A common question asked these days is,  if too much debt caused the financial  crisis, how can more debt solve the problem?  Most American families know that their basic problem is too little income and too much debt.  Common sense tells us that unless debt is balanced by inceasing income to service the payments, the end result is bankruptcy, and this rule applies equally to individuals and nations.

Obama’s Dangerous Debt

By Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON — Just how much government debt does a president have to endorse before he’s labeled “irresponsible”? Well, apparently much more than the massive amounts envisioned by President Obama. The final version of his 2010 budget, released last week, is a case study in political expediency and economic gambling.

Let’s see. From 2010 to 2019, Obama projects annual deficits totaling $7.1 trillion; that’s atop the $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009.

One reason Obama is so popular is that he has promised almost everyone lower taxes and higher spending. Beyond the undeserving who make more than $250,000, 95 percent of “working families” receive a tax cut.

Consider the extra debt as a proxy for political evasion. The president doesn’t want to confront Americans with choices between lower spending and higher taxes — or, given the existing deficits, perhaps less spending and more taxes.

At best, the rising cost of the debt would intensify pressures to increase taxes, cut spending — or create bigger, unsustainable deficits.

At worst, the burgeoning debt could trigger a future financial crisis. The danger is that “we won’t be able to sell it (Treasury debt) at reasonable interest rates,” says economist Rudy Penner, head of the CBO from 1983 to 1987. In today’s anxious climate, this hasn’t happened. American and foreign investors have favored “safe” U.S. Treasuries. But a glut of bonds, fears of inflation — or something else — might one day shatter confidence. Bond prices might fall sharply; interest rates would rise. The consequences could be worldwide because foreigners own half of U.S. Treasury debt.

The Obama budgets flirt with deferred distress, though we can’t know what form it might take or when it might occur. Present gain comes with the risk of future pain. As the present economic crisis shows, imprudent policies ultimately backfire, even if the reversal’s timing and nature are unpredictable.

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