U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the soaring U.S. national debt and the effect it could have on future economic growth. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), next year, America’s debt will be greater than its gross domestic product (GDP) and rise to 107 percent in 2023, the highest percentage in the nation’s history. Thune expressed his frustration with his Democratic colleagues and their general lack of concern regarding the amount of money that would be spent to advance their own political agendas – like the Green New Deal.
Excerpts of Thune’s remarks below:
“Mr. President, at the beginning of September the Congressional Budget Office issued its latest budget outlook.
“The news wasn’t good.
“CBO announced that next year, our country’s debt is projected to exceed the amount of our gross domestic product.
“In other words, the size of our debt will be greater than the size of our economy.
“That is a very bad position to be in.
“Countries with that kind of debt-to-GDP ratio face time-sensitive decisions if they want to avert an all-out economic crisis. Greece is just one recent example.
“We all know the kind of economic devastation, and accompanying turmoil, that Greece has experienced in recent years.
“Now, as the United States, we can probably hang on a little longer than most other countries before entering a full-blown debt crisis.
“And it’s helpful that our economy was surging before being waylaid by the onset of the coronavirus.
“But even we can’t hang on forever.
“Sooner or later, if we don’t address the size of our soaring debt, we’re going to have a problem.
“A lot of problems, in fact.
“Now, Mr. President, that is not something most of my colleagues across the aisle want to hear.
“They’d like to spend as much as they want, whenever they want, on whatever new government program they’ve come up with.
“And they imply that Republicans are miserly for not wanting to join them.
“Republicans, Democrats imply (or say), just don’t care about the ordinary Americans who would supposedly benefit from Democrats’ spending.
“In fact, Mr. President, the opposite is true.
“In the face of the pandemic, Republicans have been willing to spend huge sums to help our fellow Americans weather this crisis.
“And Republicans are worried about our spending and our debt precisely because we care deeply about ordinary Americans.
“We know what the consequences of unchecked debt and spending can be, and we want to protect Americans from those consequences.
“To start with, the larger our debt grows, the more interest we’re likely to have to pay.
“And we’re already paying a lot.
“Right now, we’re paying roughly $484 billion a year in interest on our debt.
“That’s a substantial chunk of our yearly budget
“And that’s money that could otherwise be going to other priorities.
“And the problem is only snowballing.
“By 2029, the yearly interest on our debt is projected to reach $807 billion, according to one estimate.
“That’s going to eat up a lot of money that could otherwise be spent on important investments.
“Health care, veterans, infrastructure, defense, seniors, education – we’d have a lot more money to devote to those priorities if we weren’t paying hundreds of billions in interest each year on our debt.
“Then there are the economic consequences of a huge debt.
“The economy will struggle.
“Unemployment will grow.
“Businesses will create fewer jobs – if they create jobs at all.
“Wages and benefits will likely stagnate.
“The stock market will struggle.
“Mr. President, we’ve had to borrow a lot of money this year to meet the coronavirus crisis.
“And there’s no doubt it’s money we needed to borrow.
“That happens sometimes during a crisis.
“But we need to be very aware of the fact that we’ve driven up our deficit by $3.3 trillion just this fiscal year — further increasing our nation’s debt.
“And we need to be very careful about any additional borrowing and ensure that we’re only borrowing what’s absolutely necessary.
“Republicans have caught a lot of flak from Democrats for not being willing to use the coronavirus as an excuse for unchecked government spending – including for NON-coronavirus-related measures.
“But we’ve made a priority of scrutinizing additional spending because we don’t want to get our country out of one economic crisis only to plunge it into another.
“Unfortunately, that’s a lesson that’s lost on my Democrat colleagues.
“We think the debt is bad now – and it is.
“But it’s nothing like what our debt will look like if Democrats take Congress and the White House in November and start putting some of their bigger spending plans into effect.
“Plans like Medicare for All, which would cost, at a conservative estimate, $32 trillion over 10 years.
“Or the Green New Deal, Democrats’ $93 trillion boondoggle.
“That’s right – you didn’t mishear.
“The Green New Deal is estimated to cost up to $93 trillion over 10 years.
“To put that in perspective, the size of the entire federal budget in 2019 was $4.4 trillion – or substantially less than the cost of one year of the Green New Deal.
“Now, Mr. President, you might think a pie-in-the-sky fantasy like the Green New Deal would have been abandoned by Democrats by now.
“But you’d be wrong.
“More than a year after its introduction, it’s apparently still going strong.
“Yesterday I spoke on the floor about Democrats’ threat to eliminate the legislative filibuster in the Senate – the Senate rule that helps ensure that bills that come before the Senate require bipartisan cooperation.
“Well, shortly before I spoke, the senator from Massachusetts who introduced the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate appeared on NPR, where he was asked whether he thought there were any parts of the Green New Deal that could attract bipartisan support.
“The senator’s response?
“The whole thing needs to be enacted – and if Republicans don’t allow that to happen, Democrats should change the Senate rules to eliminate the legislative filibuster.
“So apparently Democrats aren’t willing to even moderate their proposal.
“If the senator from Massachusetts has his way, Democrats will shove that entire $93 trillion down the throats of the American people.
“And I guess the American people will just have to survive the resulting debt crisis.
“Now, Mr. President, when you ask about the price tag for Democrats’ socialist fantasies, Democrats make noise about paying for it somehow.
“We’ll tax the rich, they say.
“The rich aren’t paying their fair share.
“The problem, of course, is that increasing taxes on the rich isn’t going to pay for these proposals.
“You could tax not only the rich but a good portion of the middle class at rates near 100 percent and not come anywhere close to getting $93 trillion.
“There is in fact no way to pay for these proposals.
“They will be financed by enormous additions to our national debt, and ordinary Americans will suffer the consequences.
“A shrinking economy.
“Lack of opportunity.
“Mr. President, I hope we’ll take action on our debt before it’s too late.
“One thing we have to consider is how to shore up and protect Social Security and Medicare, which are currently the main drivers of our national debt.
“Thanks to an aging Baby Boomer population, these programs are under a great deal of strain.
“My colleague from Utah, Senator Romney, recently introduced legislation – the TRUST Act – to begin to address these endangered trust funds and start to rein in our national debt.
“Bipartisan legislation like this would be a good start to preventing our country from facing an economic crisis in the coming decades.
“The Republican senators sponsoring the legislation were joined by a handful of Democrats, which gives me hope that perhaps not all my Democrat colleagues are determined to explode our national debt with their socialist fantasies.
“Unfortunately, too many Democrats – including Democrats’ vice presidential candidate – are open to bankrupting Americans with the Green New Deal and other plans.
“I hope they won’t have the chance to implement their legislation.
“Because our economy … and the American people … might never recover from the consequences.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”