I grew up in a strongly Democratic household…except for my brother Tim, but every family has that black sheep, right?  As I moved into young adulthood, it was Democratic candidates that resonated with me most, but I especially seemed to gravitate toward those in the now extinct Democratic Leadership Council.  The DLC was the more conservative wing of the Democratic Party, and were a contributing party in helping reduce the deficit, and actually balance the federal budget during the Clinton Presidency.  Certainly, there were many Republicans involved in this process as well, but having grown up in a Democratic home, I was more aware of those in the DLC.

For some unexplained reason I revisited this history yesterday.  I’m not sure why, but the current fiscal status of the US was on my mind.  Maybe it’s because my wife and I strive to follow Dave Ramsey’s financial principles in our life, or maybe it was just a random thought that traveled across some synapse…those do happen in my brain quite regularly!  Whatever the reason, I looked up some numbers that have me mostly irritated at those who are supposed to guide our country wisely. 

I offer these numbers for your consideration:

  • $17 Billion – the amount of national debt in 1929 when the stock market crashed.  The US carrying debt is nothing new.
  • 33 – the number of years it took to grow the debt from 100B (1943) to 500B (1975).
  • 7 – the number of years it took to grow the debt from 500B (1975) to 1T (1982).
  • 80 – the number of years it took to grow debt from 17B (1929) to 10T (2008)
  • 9 – the number of years it took to grow debt from 10T (2008) to 20T (2017)
  • 1970 – the year the US began regular deficit spending
  • $290 Billion – the largest single year deficit (1992) prior to 2003
  • $872 Billion – the average yearly deficit over the past 10 years (2009-2018)
  • 23% – the percentage of 2018’s budget that was borrowed
  • $22.5 Trillion – the current national debt
  • $183,000 – the share of the national debt held by each taxpayer

What really bothers me about these numbers is this: no one seems to care!  In the 1990s a bi-partisan group of “Deficit Hawks” led the charge to reduce/eliminate deficit spending and actually balanced the federal budget.  Ever since then the deficit hawks have shrunk in number…to the point of the Washington Post declaring, “Deficit Hawks are Dead” in a September 2018 article.

I’m not an economist.  I’m not a master of budgetary policy.  But I look at the numbers above, combine that with the reality that no one in Washington really cares, and it scares me.  To spoof one of my favorite movies: Help us Obi Dave Ramsey…you’re our only hope!