National Debt Hits $30 trillion — Here’s Why That’s a Bad Thing

The United States’ national debt hit $30 trillion for the first time in history per the Department of the Treasury on Jan. 31. The national debt includes the money which the U.S Government owes to itself and others, as well as the debt of public entities like businesses and individuals. While not unusual in this day and age for it to reach unhealthy levels, this newest milestone should worry us all.

For reference, on Feb. 4, 2020, the national debt stood at a whopping $23.2 trillion. This is a takeoff of $7 trillion in only two years. With federal interest rates guaranteed to rise in March, this crisis is only going to get uglier as more of the federal budget gets consumed paying interest. In an interview on FOX Business, Arkansas Representative French Hill laid out a disturbing fact regarding exactly this: A rise in the average treasury rate equates to over $290 billion. That’s close to what the government pays for Veterans Affairs alone.

One of the main reasons for the $7 trillion hike is due to federal stimulus enacted by Presidents Trump and Biden. Government spending cannot be axed altogether. Roads still need to be paved, people need services like the post office and schools as well as safety nets to maintain society.

Why care? For one, the issue will become real as time goes on, and if the debt ceiling is hit and the U.S defaults its obligations, the government will be shut down and people will suffer. Veterans would not receive the care they deserve, government workers would go without a paycheck, and the services provided by the government would stop dead in their tracks.

According to the Peter G. Peterson foundation, if every household in the United States were taxed evenly they would pay $231 thousand dollars. For every person: a tax of $90 thousand. If every household paid just $1,000 a month it would still take 19 years in order for the debt to be paid off. The more debt we accumulate, the less prepared the government is to make big investments into the country like infrastructure and protection against calamities like climate change.

Can anything be done to make the United States more fiscally responsible? Yes. First, we should stop spending on endless wars that benefit no one. This means we prioritize our own borders over those on different continents like in Ukraine. Second, manage debt and spending as a percentage of our GDP. In 2020, debt soared to 133% the size of our GDP. Experts say this should be around less than 60%. Important programs such as social security do not need to be cut, and can even be expanded to aid less fortunate seniors. Keep this in mind when you head to the polls this November.

The $30 trillion debt is nothing to joke about. If left unattended, it could lead to serious ramifications for society. However it is not an issue we are hopeless to tackle, and as the 2022 midterm elections approach, it’s important that Americans who care about this issue make their voices heard.