by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich sounds an alarm about the federal government’s out-of-control spending habits.
There’s a ‘d-word’ that obsesses and terrifies the mainstream media every time a Republican starts talking tough about reining in America’s out-of-control – dare I say, suicidal – federal spending.
Strikingly, the word is not ‘debt.’It’s ‘default’.
On Wednesday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy met for the first time with President Joe Biden to kick off negotiations ahead of the now-recurring, annual business of raising America’s borrowing limit to finance its upward-spiraling debt.
‘Default’ was on the minds of reporters waiting for McCarthy outside the White House. ‘Can you commit that the U.S. will not default on its obligations,’ one asked.
No one – the least of which being McCarthy – wants America to fail in its responsibility to pay back its creditors. But I submit that there is a grander opportunity beyond a blind, slavish commitment to servicing skyrocketing debt.
The nation is currently $31.4 trillion in the red.
Astonishingly, by 2025, interest on the debt may be a larger budget item than the entire U.S. Department of Defense.
In the 2022 fiscal year, $475 billion was consumed by interest payments. That’s nearly as much as the $677 billion spent on education and more than is spent on veterans’ benefits and transportation – combined.
A balanced budget – the novel concept of not spending more than is collected in revenue – can save the nation from this fiscal insanity.
But it won’t be easy to get there. I know what it takes.
When I was Speaker in 1995, we undertook precisely the kind of dramatic change that we need today. …
… We had to convince Clinton that we were serious in our insistence on a real balanced budget.
So, we closed the government – twice.
In reality, we sent Clinton two budgets, which he vetoed. But the mainstream media blamed Republicans for the shutdown.
We did not relent.