Do we really have $16 trillion federal debt?

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, November 28, 2012

To the Editor:

Recently our federal debt crossed the $16 trillion mark. That level of debt is so much money it is difficult to comprehend.

In 2000, our federal deficit was zero, and in the 1990s we had surpluses. Currently, we are adding over $100 million to our federal debt every day.

How did our federal government accumulate $16 trillion debt in 12 years?

Perhaps the best way to view this situation is to remove some zeros from the numbers and look at this problem as if we were a family. If we did so, our income would be about $24,000 annually, but we are spending almost $36,000 each year.

We charged another $12,000 to our credit card just this year. We now owe $160,000 on our credit card and are just paying the minimum payment each month.

If we approach the point where we have maxed out our enormous credit card limit, we simply call the bank and ask that our credit limit be raised. The bank is happy to do so because it knows that it will take us many years, if not decades, to pay off our debt.

In the meantime, 40 percent of our payments are going to interest alone.

If we use Congress’ philosophy and formula and agree that we need to cut our family expenses, then we will make a total reduction in spending of $33 per month.

Our current U.S. population is 314 million. Of that number, we consider almost 23 million or 16 percent are unemployed; 47 million are getting food stamps; baby boomers are retiring in droves and qualifying for Medicare and Social Security; factories are closing and moving overseas to more favorable business climates; and our military is stressed to the limit. Yet, only about half of our U.S. wage earners pay income taxes.

This situation has become a hot political issue but it is not. It is a critical American issue that must be dealt with in a bipartisan way.

Resolving these issues will be painful and take a great deal of courage, education and sacrifice. The question remains…. can our federal leaders do what must be done for us to survive this severe financial crisis?

Bob Holt
Sylva, N.C.
Formerly Franklin