Our national debt (the total amount owed by our federal government to our creditors) is now approaching $32 trillion, an unprecedented amount both overall and by various other measures such as in relation to our overall economy (debt-to-GDP). As just one consequence of great concern, the annual interest payments on our debt are now the fastest-growing part of our federal budget, more than, for example, education and defense.
This year, we’ll spend more money on interest payments on the debt than all federal funding on our American children, and on our current path by 2030 our interest payments will exceed our defense budget. This not only presents a great risk to economic, social and defense stability but also is a stark indicator of fiscal unsustainability.
I believe that our federal budget should not be, as it has become, a routine exercise, but instead a document and agenda that comprehensively address our nation’s needs and expenses in a fiscally sustainable way. We have urgent challenges, from climate change to health care and beyond, and we need a full and difficult debate on how best to balance their cost with our ability and commitment to raise and allocate scarce resources.
If we continue on our current fiscally unsustainable path, we will further reduce our ability to deal not only with normal course needs but with emergencies like COVID-19 or economic downturns. There are a number of priorities that we must address, but without a conversation on the debt, payments on the interest will crowd out our ability to address these and currently-unknown priorities. I urge you to watch my speech before the full House on our fiscal crisis here (https://youtu.be/QfIgF66dmvg).
I will continue to focus on finding the best ways forward for our country to ensure fiscal responsibility and sustainability. On this effort, please watch my recent testimony to the U.S. House Budget Committee, on which I previously served. It can be found here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM3lxmsEIH0&t=11s).