Acton Institute Powerblog

America’s unfortunate debt consensus

In an age of deep partisanship and political division, there’s one thing about which America’s political class appears to agree—the public debt being incurred by the U.S. Government. This year, the United States Treasury expects to issue about $1.23 trillion in debt, down slightly from the $1.34 trillion issued in 2018. This was more than double the $546 billion of debt issued in 2017.

For all their talk among the fiscal conservatives that can be found on both sides of the aisle (and, yes, such people do exist in the Democrat party if you look hard enough) about the need to address America’s ballooning public debt, neither the left nor the right seem to be willing to do anything about it.

This is underscored in a recent article published by the American Spectator, entitled “The Credit Card Party,” by Hunt Lawrence and Daniel J. Flynn. “Bipartisanship,” they write, “elusive in Washington on pressing matters ranging from health care to immigration, returns whenever the government seeks to go further into the red.”

The whole article is worth reading, but the authors stress how continued and increased deficit spending is just fine with different wings of the Democrat and Republican parties for different reasons: hence, the emergence of what they call the Credit Card Party. That’s why we’re seen a bipartisan budget agreement that will increase federal government spending while simultaneously suspending for two years the government’s borrowing limit for two years.

This will not, at some point, end well. And everyone will, eventually, pay the price.

Samuel Gregg

is director of research at the Acton Institute. He has written and spoken extensively on questions of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory. He has an MA in political philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in moral philosophy and political economy from the University of Oxford.