An average taxpayer is going to have to fork over more than $2,000 this year just to cover their share of the interest on the national debt. It’s a huge sum going purely to finance the spending and borrowing of the past.
At the rate the national debt is rising, interest payments — the fastest growing part of the federal budget — will be bigger than Medicaid by next year and the military by 2025.
Although public concern for the debt rises and falls depending on the politics of the moment, the debt itself only rises. It is on an unsustainable path projected to grow faster than the economy — forever.
The challenge with dealing with the debt is two-fold: Most families can’t see how the issue affects them and therefore don’t think about it much; and second, politicians from both parties in search of ways to keep ducking hard choices latch on to excuses for why we shouldn’t worry about it.
But the debt threat is considerable. Not only will those interest payments continue to push out other parts of the budget that are essential to the preservation of our social safety net programs, the high debt also slows the economy and our standard of living, and it leaves us dangerously unprepared for an emergency like a recession, disaster or national security event.