A New York Times headline on June 16, 2023 said “U.S. National Debt Tops $32 Trillion for First Time.” The headline this Sept. 20 in the Epoch Times was “U.S. Debt Tops $33 Trillion for First Time.” Congress eliminated the debt ceiling on June 2, 2023, something they have done 78 times since 1960. In one quarter, Congress added $1 trillion of debt, and we are facing another government shutdown. This is malfeasance.
It’s business as usual for Congress, so why should you care? Inflation: that’s why! Four dollar per gallon gasoline. Soaring home prices coupled with high interest rates to purchase a home. High food and energy prices. Inflation is impacting everyone’s budget.
If you are old enough, you have seen this before. The late ‘60s through the ‘70s was a decade of inflation. The government spent more money than it had and inflation became rampant. By 1973, annualized inflation was 8.8%; it was 14% by 1980. Home mortgage rates topped out at 16.63% in 1981. Eventually inflation was tamed in the ‘80s with high interest rates and tight monetary policy aided by a fiscal conservative in the White House.
What about now? The Fed (Mr. Powell) and President Biden claimed in 2021 that inflation was “transitory.” They were wrong. To the contrary, Rep. Terry Moore and I wrote opinions as far back as June of 2020 that inflation would be a problem. Once again, we have the federal reserve fixing previous policy mistakes with high interest rates. However, there is no fiscal conservative in the White House, and Congress is hopeless. In the last four years Congress increased the debt by over $10 trillion from $22.7 trillion to $33.1 trillion. High interest rates in the ‘70s, when debt was small, is one thing, high interest rates in 2023-2032 is a train wreck. Interest on U.S. debt is projected to top $1.4 trillion by 2033. Over the next 10 years the U.S. will spend more on interest ($10.5 trillion) than on national defense! Do you really believe China will loan us more money for national defense?
U.S. debt accumulation and interest on that debt is a death spiral. Germany, Rome, ancient Israel, and every country that has ever taken this path has failed. Why do we think we are different?
Let’s face facts. At some point, we must acknowledge the system is broken and needs amendment. For the last 60 years, Congress has become increasingly incompetent regardless of party control, and the power of the president is frightening. To stop these fatal trends, the states must act under Article V of the U.S. Constitution to hold a convention of the states to propose amendments seeking fiscal restraints on Congress, limit the power of the federal government, and add congressional term limits. If your state legislator will not get on board with a convention of states to propose amendments, they will be complicit with Congress when America crashes over the fiscal cliff. When that happens, inflation unlike what we have ever seen will destroy our economy, our defense capability, and the finances of every household in America. When you vote in 2024, vote for state legislators who support a convention of the states. America and your fiscal future depend on it.
Tom McGillvray is a Republican state senator from Billings.
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