Repaying the National Debt

February 11, 2000

I've heard it said that after being in debt for years, families begin to forget they are in debt. If that's true for families, it's certainly true for the federal government. After decades of being in debt, it seems like hardly anyone in government is concerned over the national debt. That's why the recent comments by Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, are so refreshing.

Hastert has proposed legislation that would pay off the national debt in 15 years. He proposes that this be done with money in addition to funds put forward to keep Social Security and Medicare from going bankrupt.

The national debt is currently $3.6 trillion dollars. It's hard to get a perspective on such a large number so Dennis Hastert provides some examples. The Speaker points out that every child is born with $13,300 worth of debt. The national debt equals about $56,000 for a family of four.

To put it another way, each year $230 billion of the federal budget goes to pay the interest on the debt. Consider that in 1967 the entire federal budget was $99 billion. In other words, two and a half times that goes just for the interest. If the interest is eliminated, then the $1000 now needed from every American to pay the interest on the debt could be used for other priorities like tax relief or strengthening the national defense.

Hastert also calls the national debt "morally wrong." I had to read that again. That's the first time I recall a Speaker of the House making a comment that sounds more like Larry Burkett than like an elected official. I applaud the speaker's plan to repay the national debt. It's time to deal with this national issue and remove the burden of debt that will be placed on our children and grandchildren.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.