After seven long years, the damaging consequences of President Obama’s liberal agenda and policies become even more glaring by the day. Instead of confronting the serious challenges that desperately needed his attention, leadership and willingness to work with the legislative branch after he took the oath of office, the president has chosen throughout the entirety of his administration to ignore some of the most pressing issues facing the American people. As a result of his misguided priorities, President Obama has greatly complicated the solutions required to get the country back on track.
One of the issues that has been mishandled by President Obama is the nation’s massive debt and the dangerous rate at which it continues to grow. Despite claims to the contrary, the president has consistently shown that he is more interested in advancing policies (like Obamacare) that add to the debt—instead of coming up with reforms to pay it down and slow the rate at which it is growing. He’s even taken credit for shrinking deficits, resulting from Republican-led reforms to cut discretionary spending. However, the days of declining deficits are numbered.
It is important to keep in mind that “deficit” is not the same as “debt.” While the terms are closely related, the annual deficit accounts for the difference between that year’s revenues and expenses. When the nation runs a deficit, it means that expenses are greater than the revenues available to cover those expenses. While smaller deficits mean less is added to our total debt, a deficit of any size still means more debt since the nation’s total debt is equal to deficits accumulated year after year.
Last month, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its economic outlook for the next 10 years. If current policies are unchanged, CBO projected that national debt would reach $23.8 trillion by 2026. But more immediately this year, CBO revealed that, for the first time since 2009, the deficit will rise. This upturn is due to higher interest payments on our growing debt and a rise in entitlement spending—for Social Security and Medicare programs—with the first wave of the “baby boomer” generation currently beginning to retire. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, baby boomers are defined as individuals between the age of 51 and 70 in 2016, so unless changes are made to entitlement programs, our deficits and our debt will continue to rise at an unsustainable rate.
Based on the expected year-end deficit for 2016, CBO further projected that total debt held by the public will reach 76 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), which is “higher than it has been since the years immediately following World War II.” A troubling frame of reference from 2008, this same statistic was dramatically lower with total debt equal to approximately 39 percent of GDP.
Even more recently, the Bureau of Economic Analysis added to the chorus of disappointing economic reports just last week. Its analysis of GDP during the fourth quarter of 2015 revealed that the U.S. economy grew by less than one percent—a noticeable and unexpected decline from the previous quarter. While there are plenty of contributing factors for this lackluster growth, I believe that it reflects the declining confidence of Americans in their economic future and their concern over the president’s unwillingness to recommend lasting reforms.
Despite the president’s failure to confront the real drivers of our debt, I remain confident that responsible, conservative leaders in Congress will continue to lead by proposing solutions for balancing the budget and paying down the debt. Until we make the tough decisions about entitlement spending and implement lasting reforms, our country will continue to drown in debt and our economic recovery will be halting and lackluster.