America Is Heading Straight Into Its Most Avoidable Crisis Ever

By Justin Bogie, senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at The Heritage Foundation, and Chase Flowers, member of The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program.

In the looming shadow of another debt limit debate, Congress should stand firm and demand spending controls before increasing the debt limit again.

Most people are familiar with the tragic story of the Titanic. Like the iceberg that sank the grand ship, the United States is facing what is perhaps the largest and most avoidable crisis in its history—the U.S. federal debt.

The crew of the Titanic chose to ignore warnings of the danger ahead. Congress must not fall into the same trap.

The federal debt is $20 trillion and growing at an unsustainable rate. According to the most recent long-term projections released by the Congressional Budget Office in March, the federal debt is projected to increase from $20 trillion to $92 trillion in the next 30 years. Debt will more than quadruple.

Between today and 2047, the only areas of spending expected to increase as a percentage of gross domestic product are Social Security, major health care programs, and interest on the debt.

These are the drivers of the national debt. All other spending is projected to decline as a percentage of GDP, and revenues are projected to rise as well. Entitlement spending is the problem.

These projections assume no wars, no terrorist attacks, no recessions, and historically low interest rates. If the country faces war, economic crisis, or other major unforeseen events, it would put further strain on the budget and likely accelerate the growth in debt.

Why isn’t Congress taking the federal debt seriously? Participants in a panel discussion on the costs, causes, and consequences of the government’s unconstrained spending habits think that the blame falls on a lack of motivation.

“I think it’s a lack of incentives for policymakers that they prioritize short-term thinking over long-term thinking,” David Barnes, policy director at Generation Opportunity, remarked during a Heritage Foundation panel last month.

“[Lawmakers] prefer to get something today,” he went on to state, “and put off a tough decision until later.”

A child born in 2017 will have a $44,841 share of America’s publicly held federal debt. As the chart below illustrates, that amount is projected to grow more than five times in the next 30 years as federal deficits continue to exceed expected population growth.

The consequences of Washington’s excessive spending will manifest in several ways.

For one, such a massive federal debt stifles economic growth. Interest rates could rise more steeply, either at the behest of creditors seeking protection from the risk associated with investing in a country with an unsustainable debt trajectory, or simply because the government is attempting to sell more bonds than people are willing to buy at current rates.

Regardless of the pathway, higher interest rates would raise the cost of debt and lead the government to either tax more or borrow even more money.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, a large amount of federal debt will also restrict the government’s ability to use tax and spending policies to respond to unforeseen circumstances, such as an economic downturn or financial crisis.

As a result, those unexpected challenges could have a much larger negative impact than they otherwise would have.

It is also important to note that increasing levels of federal debt threaten national security.

As major entitlement programs and payments on interest from the debt continue to consume a larger portion of federal spending, other programs, such as defense, have faced significant cuts. Already underfunded and ill-prepared, the U.S. military needs more funding, not less.

All of this could be avoided if lawmakers committed to reducing spending.

Younger generations will bear the brunt of the consequences in the future from the damage being done today. Taxes would be higher, income levels would be below their highest potential, additional debt would be more expensive, and the economy could further stagnate—unless Congress acts and acts soon.

While the fiscal storm brewing over Washington is more ominous than ever, it is not too late to change course. Lawmakers must address their excessive spending habits now.

Through the implementation of responsible policies such as the ones outlined in The Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance,” lawmakers can set our nation on a fiscally responsible path.

Cutting spending requires difficult decisions, but the cost of inaction is that much higher.

*Originally published in The Daily Signal, click here.


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How America Can Get Its Fiscal House in Order

By Romina Boccia, Deputy Director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation The United States is on a dangerous spending path. Congress and the Trump administration must work together to put the budget on a path to balance and restore economic growth and opportunity for Americans.…

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Heritage Action Supports Rep. Phil Roe’s Employee Rights Act

This month, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) introduced the Employee Rights Act (H.R. 2723). This legislation would protect workers from union pressure by putting power in the hands of employees and making union leaders more accountable to their members. As the Heritage Foundation notes, if union bosses “were angels, such changes…

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Congress Should Repeal the Durbin Amendment Because It Is a Price Control

By Norbert Michel, Heritage Foundation Financial Regulations Expert Business owners expect conservative members of Congress to protect them from the federal government. They particularly rely on conservatives for protection against government price controls. No self-respecting business owner wants the federal government telling him what price he can charge. Business owners –…

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Trump’s Food Stamp Reform Would Close the Trap of Dependency

By Robert Rector, Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow in Domestic Policy. President Donald Trump’s newly released budget contains a proposed food stamp reform, which the left has denounced as a “horror” that arbitrarily cuts food stamp benefits by 25 percent. These claims are misleading. In reality, the president’s proposed policy is…

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GOP Must Fight Price Controls, Not Side With Liberal Senator Dick Durbin

Washington – According to reports, House Republicans plan to remove language repealing the so-called Durbin Amendment from the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10). The Durbin Amendment was a last minute addition to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul that established a cap on debit card swipe fees that banks charge to…

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In 3 Charts, the Biggest Revelations From New Obamacare Study

By Rachel del Guidice, Reporter for The Daily Signal Health care costs continue to rise under Obamacare. A report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services shows a significant hike in the average cost of individual plans since 2013 in 39 states. In 2013, the average annual…

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Key Takeaways From CBO Score of the Republican Health Care Bill

By Drew Gonshorowski, Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst in Simulations The Congressional Budget Office updated its score of the House-passed American Health Care Act this week, prior to its being sent over to the Senate. This budgetary analysis projects that if passed into law, the bill would reduce the number of insured…

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Video: Why Washington Hates Trump’s Budget

The Trump Administration released its budget proposal this week. Watch the video below to learn more about Trump's plan to cut spending and unleash economic growth.…

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9 Key Takeaways From Trump’s First Budget

By Justin Bogie, Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst in Fiscal Affairs & Salim Furth, Heritage Foundation Research Fellow in Macroeconomics & Adam Michel, Heritage Foundation Policy Analyst Two months after unveiling his “skinny budget,” President Donald Trump officially submitted his completed budget to Congress. The proposal sends a strong message to…

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Trump Must Resist Pressure From Foreign Leaders to Cave in on Global Warming

By Dan Holler, Vice President of Heritage Action for America President Donald Trump has arrived in Italy for the G-7 summit, where foreign leaders will press him to abandon core elements of his “America First” agenda in favor of a more globalist agenda. As National Public Radio reported last week, “President…

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Trump Budget Puts Taxpayers First

Washington — This morning, the Trump Administration unveiled its FY 2018 budget proposal called “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” The budget includes $3.6 trillion in spending reductions while prioritizing much-needed defense funding. And while the budget does not include much-needed structural reforms to Medicare and Social Security’s retirement program,…

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VIDEO: Repeal The Durbin Amendment

It's time to pass The Financial CHOICE Act to repeal the Durbin Amendment and roll back costly Obama-era regulations.…

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Here’s What’s in Trump’s ‘Taxpayers First’ Federal Budget

By Fred Lucas, White House Correspondent for The Daily Signal The Trump administration will respect taxpayers, balance the budget, return the country to 3 percent economic growth, and push a parental leave requirement in its fiscal plan to be released Tuesday, said Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney…

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Dodd-Frank Has Crippled Our Economic Recovery. This Bill Will Unleash Real Growth Again.

By Sondra Clark, Digital Director of Heritage Action Have you noticed that free checking accounts are now nearly nonexistent, and locally owned stores are increasing the $5 minimum charge on debit cards? These are not the result of some financial conspiracy. They are a direct result of Dodd-Frank regulations. After…

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Who Wins and Who Loses Under These 8 Big Government Policies

By Patrick Tyrrell, research coordinator in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis It’s clear that many big government policies are creating winners and losers in America. The story has been the same for decades. Government makes friends with a company or an industry, blocks out the competition with regulation,…

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How Republicans Stopped Pretending and Started Getting Real

By Michael A. Needham, Heritage Action CEO and Jacob Reses, Heritage Action Director of Strategic Initiatives "Republicans need to become a governing party.” It’s a mantra we’ve been hearing for years, usually in response to speed bumps in the legislative process caused by internecine warfare within the House Republican conference, and…

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Heritage Action Supports Rep. Gary Palmer And Sen. Mike Lee’s Agency Accountability Act

Earlier this year, Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Agency Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 850 & S. 299). This legislation would restore Congress’ power of the purse found in Article I of the Constitution over unelected federal bureaucrats by requiring “any agency that receives a fee, fine, penalty,…

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