Debt hits $21 trillion, and counting

  • 19 March 2018
  • NormanL
There's no bottom to the debt well

The national debt hit an ugly milestone last week, topping $21 trillion for the first time:

The national debt exceeded $21 trillion for the first time on Thursday, a little more than six months after it hit first $20 trillion on Sept. 8.

The national debt was $21.031 trillion on Thursday. The government releases total debt figures each business day, but it lags by one day.

Federal borrowing has been on the rise again since February, when Congress passed legislation to suspend the debt ceiling. That move allowed the government to borrow as much as it needs to fund the activities approved by Congress.

Under the law passed in February, the government will not face any borrowing limit until March 1, 2019. At its current pace, the government is on track to add at least $1 trillion to the national debt by then.

Ah, yes. The budget deal that took the cap off the debt limit for a year. Without that mild speed bump, the political class has gone on an epic spending bender. And it will only get worse, as Congress is under a deadline to slap together yet another spending bill to avoid a second shutdown. What might be in that monster? Anything and everything. And you can thank the political calendar for the mess to come:

With the midterm election just months away, the massive package aimed at funding programs represents more than just a typical funding bill. It's one of the last opportunities members may have to make their legislative mark and assure their pet projects get funded before the end of the year.

"This is a moving train," Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican from Pennsylvania, told CNN. "That's why everybody wants to get on this one. It's a moving train, and there aren't going to be many vehicles like this between now and the election."

Which is both true, and outrageous.

It's no secret politicians have used the public purse, and credit card, to spend their way into voters' hearts.  But at some point, they will run out of other people's money to spend. And when that happens, all that will be left are the bills (for future taxpayers). 

And remember: the $21 trillion figure is just the federal government debt. It does not count roughly $3 trillion in state and local government debt obligations, which also must be repaid by your tax dollars...for decades to come.