It’s Time to Talk About the National Debt

It’s not all roses on Capitol Hill when it comes to our country’s deficit.

From October 2018 through June 2019, the federal government spent a record $3,355,970,000,000 – the most it has ever spent in the first nine months of a fiscal year. This report, released on Thursday in the Monthly Treasury Statement, also revealed the federal deficit during that time frame - $747,115,000,000, when the total tax revenue (2,608,855,000,000) is subtracted from the amount of money spent.

The most expensive federal entity was the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which accounted for $901,867,000,000. The Social Security Administration (SSA) was next, at $822,993,000,000. Third was the Department of Defense and military programs at $487,770,000,000.

Only some of these numbers are record-breaking, but all of them are staggering. They’re scary, too. The U.S. national debt is over 22 trillion dollars and rising every day, as it has been for decades. There’s a reason why the national debt is called a “crisis” – sooner or later, the federal government is going to have to pay back what it owes to its creditors, with an interest rate on top of it.

Fortunately, U.S. interest rates have remained fairly low in spite of its accumulating debt. However, this doesn’t mitigate the problem: federal spending has gotten out of control.

As shown by the numbers, the majority of all federal spending goes into HHS and SSA. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the three largest entitlement programs in the country, all operate beneath the HHS and the SSA. In recent decades, the money funneling into these programs has created bigger and bigger federal deficits which will soon be too much for the country to handle. Yet in spite of their funds, recent reports have consistently shown that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will all go bankrupt in the 2020s and 2030s.

All the evidence suggests that these entitlement programs are in need of serious reform. This is a subject that should unite all of America’s leaders, but unfortunately, both major political parties have avoided the issue for decades.

Although Republicans such as former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have tried to fix the broken entitlement system, more recently under President Trump, who even during his campaign said he wouldn’t touch such entitlements, their efforts have been to no avail. Democrats, meanwhile, don’t even pretend to want to fix the system. It’s no secret that cutting back funding for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is unpopular – as Trump told CPAC all the way back in 2013, “As Republicans, if you think you are going to change very substantially for the worse Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in any substantial way, and at the same time you think you are going to win elections, it just really is not going to happen.”

Trump is right that pledging to reform entitlement programs probably isn’t the best way to win votes, but nothing can change the fact that a reform is necessary for the future of the United States. If neither party steps up and makes it not just a wish but a priority to cut back excessive federal spending, the U.S. is at risk of a serious economic crisis in the next ten to twenty years.

Ruth Moreno is a contributor to