Tanner: Numbers disturbing as national debt continues to grow
As the days of 2007 dwindle down to a precious few, reflect on America’s fiscal situation and what the future portends, says Congressman John Tanner.
As you read the sticker-shock numbers, you may realize the importance of a “pay as you go” policy endorsed by the U.S. House of Representatives as central to balancing the budget.
“Knowing that you share my goal of leaving the world a better place for those who come after us, I want to bring your attention to some eye-popping figures about the growing national debt and its implications for our nation and its people,” Tanner said in a letter to his House Democratic colleagues about the negative effects the $9 trillion federal debt — and the interest payments it requires — has on other national priorities such as infrastructure and human capital.
Pause and ponder these sobering data provided by Tanner:
• America’s gross national debt is $9.17 trillion.
Hard to visualize that many greenback dollars?
Look at it in another form: $9,170,000,000,000.
• A recent Associated Press report states the federal debt climbs at a rate of about $1 million per minute.
Hard to visualize? Try this: Sixty minutes in an hour. At the end of the first minute, the debt will have grown by $1,000,000. At the end of the 60th minute, the debt will have grown by $60,000,000. With 24 hours in a day, the debt will have grown by $1,440,000,000 — or seen another way, $1.4 billion.
• Since 2001, America has increased its privately-held debt by $1.8 trillion. Sixty-eight percent of it was borrowed from foreign sources.
• Because of Bush Administration economic and fiscal policies, Tanner said, “We have removed approximately $131 billion from the 2007 revenue base to pay interest on new debt — not debt already on the books, but new debt.”
• As a percentage of gross domestic product, the national debt has doubled over the last 26 years.
• The administrations of Republican presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Bush, and George W. Bush added $7.04 trillion to the national debt. “Those three administrations will account for 74 percent of the total national debt at the end of (calendar year) 2008,” Tanner said.
• The federal government has sent $709 billion (to creditors) abroad — $155 billion in 2007 — as interest payments since President George W. Bush took office. Again hard to visualize? Think of it this way: That $709 billion would fund 12,000 new elementary schools, 7,000 new veterans clinics, or all road and bridge construction and improvements in a 10-year period.
• Since Bush took office, America has borrowed $1.23 trillion from foreign sources. Time-wise, it equates to $351,113 per minute and $5,852 per second.
• “This year we will have paid $239 billion in interest on the national debt,” Tanner said.
That same amount would pay for paying a year’s salary for 8 million new teachers, filling every U.S. gas tank with gas at today’s pump prices or providing four years of in-state public tuition for 10.2 million students.
According to the AP, House Democrats, in one of their first acts upon assuming the majority last January, passed a “pay-as-you-go” or “paygo” rule requiring that new mandatory spending programs or tax cuts be offset by an equal amount of spending cuts or tax increases so as not to add to the deficit.
Published in The Messenger 12.12.07