Obama Versus the National Debt

According to President Obama, “the final critical step in winning the future is to make sure we aren’t buried under a mountain of debt.”

It is rather stifling beneath this mountain of debt.  What would it take for us to get some fresh air?

The current national debt is approaching the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, a limit it is projected to hit in March.  When Obama took office, it was $10.6 trillion.  That means he’s added $3.7 trillion so far.

If we assume Obama wins re-election in 2012 – PLEASE DON’T CLOSE YOUR BROWSER WINDOW, I’m going somewhere with this! – he would have to reduce the national debt by roughly $0.62 trillion per year, just to put it back where he found it.

The annual federal budget deficit just hit a record high of $1.5 trillion.  That means in order to achieve the necessary debt reduction by the time Obama’s second term ends, we’ve got to wipe out that deficit, plus another $0.62 trillion per year.  That adds up to $2.12 trillion in annual spending cuts.

The total amount of all federal discretionary spending in the 2010 budget was $1.37 trillion.  That leaves us $0.75 trillion, or $750 billion, we still have to make up… assuming we are willing to bring all discretionary spending to a complete halt.  In other words, dissolve the federal government as we currently understand it.

In order to raise that extra $750 billion per year, we would need to increase total federal revenue by roughly 35%.  I guess we’d have to fund the Treasury Department to do that, so let’s throw in their annual budget and call it $763 billion. 

There is no way to get a 35% increase in federal revenue by merely “soaking the rich.”  In order to make that much money through economic growth, given that tax revenue always hovers around 19% of our Gross Domestic Product, we would need to increase annual GDP by over five trillion dollars. 

That means it is literally impossible for Barack Obama to return the national debt to where he found it, even if he stays in office until 2016.  Let those cold numbers be the measure of his irresponsible spending, and the mountain of debt he has buried us under.  Because of him, we are a generation away from taking that “final critical step in winning the future.”