February 12, 2024 - 9:00 pm
If only Taylor Swift were dating the national debt.
On Sunday, the world’s attention turned to Las Vegas, as the region hosted its first Super Bowl. Despite some national naysayers, it was an unbridled success. Las Vegas accommodated and entertained fans and celebrities alike. About the only thing that disappointed was the low-scoring start to the game.
Once again, Las Vegas showed it is the entertainment capital of the world.
But entertainment doesn’t last forever. Football fans enjoyed the game and left to return to their normal lives. The Kansas City Chiefs celebrated their victory in style, but the off-season is already here. Las Vegas officials handed off Super Bowl hosting duties to New Orleans.
This is a normal rhythm of life. Along with fun, there are responsibilities and hard decisions. One of the marks of adulthood is balancing those competing interests. The American public isn’t showing this maturity. Tens of millions of people know the latest details of Ms. Swift — prominently featured on Sunday’s TV broadcast — and her boyfriend, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. But they have little interest discussing something much more important to all Americans — the national debt.
Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released its forecast of America’s fiscal future. The situation is bleak. This fiscal year, the deficit is projected to hit $1.6 trillion. For context, the total U.S. budget didn’t even reach that number until the late 1990s. The annual deficit is projected to continue increasing and reach $2.6 trillion by 2034.
Debt held by the public will soon hit 100 percent of gross domestic product. At this pace, it will reach 116 percent of GDP in 2034, “the highest level ever recorded.” Even the massive financial strains of World War II didn’t put the country on such poor fiscal footing.
The deficit isn’t growing because taxes are too low. Federal government revenues are currently at 17.5 percent of GDP. After a one-year dip, that’s expected to rise to around 17.9 percent.
No, America is bleeding red ink because its political class is addicted to spending other people’s money. “After 2028, growth in spending on programs for elderly people and rising net interest costs drive up outlays, which reach 24.1 percent of GDP by 2034,” the report notes.
That gap, which is more than 6 percent of GDP, is a major problem. It should be at the top of the public’s mind, pressuring our elected leaders to propose and vigorously debate various solutions.
Instead, too many apathetic Americans ignore it, caught up in the latest pop culture phenomenon. Perhaps someone should pay Ms. Swift to wear a pin with the national debt clock on it.