Just the most basic middle school math and logic would tell you that the “national debt” that lights everyone’s hair on fire is an accumulation of yearly deficits since our founding.
This is factually incorrect. The national debt, currently sitting at 21T, is the sum of the current outstanding government obligations; it does not include retired government debt. Therefore, the oldest government debt currently on the books are 30 year notes issued in 1988.
We also need a much better understanding of what the debt actually is, because it certainly isn’t an obligation of taxpayers.
It;s not particularly difficult; I posted the breakdown in another response to the OP. But, it’s important ot point out that the taxpayers are very definitely paying the interest on these notes, and people who try to say they’re not paying that debt tend to end up in jail for tax evasion, which is the only way you can not-pay.
However, the public debt can be simplified even further. Here’s an example from a Fed release in 2015, when the public debt was only 18T. :-)
“Marketable” means tradeable on an exchange. In this example, the 12.6T is the total of the principle and interest that we owe to the owners of those Treasury notes; could be China, could be a mutual fund company, could be your Aunt Nellie. The next largest amount, the 5.053T classified as “Intergovernmental, Nonmarketable” is the amount of money the Treasury owes to the Social Security Trust Fund; and the .387T which is nonmarketable/public is mostly US Savings Bonds.
If bond issues are a major problem Congress has the ability to change the mandate to issue them, or the formula that determines deficits, but to steal resources and labor with taxation in balancing one half of the balance sheet of the economy is fraud, not good governance.
A Treasury note that has been sold represents an obligation of the Federal Government. The way we account for that obligation is not at the discretion of Congress; it is accounted for using methods which are generally standardized by the OECD and EU, and audited by S&P and Moody’s, which assigns credit ratings accordingly.
We elect (hire) representatives to manage the entire economy, not just the budget. If the budget is all they can manage to deal with we are grossly overpaying them.
Well, that’s hard to argue with. :-)
We can have that conversation, but let’s not be stupid and actually attempt to remove it all. Every time (7) we got close to a balanced budget for any length of time resulted in deep recession or depression, but I’m sure the next time will be different, right??
It’s beyond disputation that government spending into the economy is responsible for a substantial amount of GDP; so if you lower the deficit and thereby the debt over time, you want to do it by growing the private economy and restraining the growth of government spending; actually cutting government spending decreases GDP.
What the economy depends on, after all, is a certain level of government spending into it; whether or not that spending causes a deficit or not, or if the budget is balanced or not, is not relevant.
Ergo, I would be careful about putting two things next to each other (in this case, cutting spending and recessions) and assuming there’s causality there. We’ve had recessions at times of high government spending, after all, and even in the cases where a recession and budget balancing coincided (2000 and 1929 come to mind) the proximate cause of the recession was not a decrease of government spending into the economy.