In just the last seven years—the last under George W. Bush and the first six under Obama—the debt has increased by roughly $7.4 trillion. That’s 10 times the entire debt incurred in our first 200 years as a nation.
My view is that government debt isn’t always inherently evil. The wisdom of borrowing depends on what you use the money for.
- We borrowed trillions (in today’s dollars) to win World War II. Surely it was worth it.
- We borrowed another $1.8 trillion during the Reagan years to finance winning the Cold War and rebuild the private economy with growth hormone tax cuts. That has clearly benefitted future generations, so they should bear some of the cost.
But what we have bought with most our debt of the last two decades has been a bigger, more expansive welfare state. Almost half of all American households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, get a government check or direct benefit from government today. More than one-third of households get some kind of unearned welfare.
Obama called his spend-and-borrow policies a “stimulus.” Really?