As Economy Booms, So Does Deficit

The U.S. economy continues to grow at a steady rate, with unemployment at its lowest point in decades and the stock market near all-time record highs. At the same time, government spending continues to drive the national debt higher. The Treasury Department expects total federal borrowing to surpass a trillion dollars for the second year in a row. Specifically, the U.S. projects a total debt of $1.23 trillion this year, down slightly from $1.34 trillion last year.

The issue is that government spending has continued to outpace government revenues. And it is a bipartisan problem. "Both parties seem to want to spend more money without regard to the long-term consequences to the economy and the taxpayers," says Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

As an example, Schatz cites the recent budget deal between the White House and Congressional leaders. "The budget deal increases spending by $320 billion, and the 'pay for' part of it, which is only about a quarter of the total, may not even take effect until 2028, if then," he says.

With little political or financial pressure to cut spending, elected officials in D.C. continue to run up the government tab. "Debt service is now the third largest federal expenditure," says Schatz. "Now imagine in a family budget, if interest on your credit cards was your third largest expenditure...pretty soon you're not going to be able to buy or pay for anything else, and the United States may be headed that way unless spending gets under control."

Schatz tells KTRH that ultimately the responsibility for reigning in federal spending lies with the voters. "Unless enough people make it clear that they will only support candidates that truly are committed to fiscal conservatism, they'll see more excessive spending here in Washington," he says.

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