National debt grim despite what some may say

Response to M. Dailey letter in the Valley Morning Star on April 18.

Spoken like a true liberal, M. Dailey … Mr. Taylor has it exactly correct, but for reasons you apparently don’t get (or don’t want to get).

Since President Obama took office, the national debt has increased by $7.4 trillion. On Jan. 20, 2009, it stood at $10.6 trillion; on Monday, it was at $18 trillion. That bit of data jumped to the front page of The Drudge Report on Tuesday, linking to an assessment from CNS News. com. The increase, the site’s Terence Jeffrey writes, “is $65,443 per household, $70,985 per full-time worker and $84,266 per full-time private-sector worker.” Grim.

Debt increases are a function of the government not being able to pay its bills. Too little revenue (taxes) compared to costs (spending), and you have a deficit. The administration likes to brag about its effort to reduce the deficit — which is fair. But the White House uses another metric: the deficit as a function of total economic production, or Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The drop is more noticeable in that comparison (especially when you look at it annually).

Critics of the administration, though, look at the corollary: total debt versus GDP. And that’s a much bleaker comparison. Debt has gone from a little more than 60 percent of GDP to more than 100 percent — meaning our debt is now equal to our total economic production.

If you’re inclined to not be a fan of Obama, you’ll think this is the most compelling point. It shows the net change in the debt in trillions of dollars over the course of the last eight administrations.

But if you’re more sympathetic to the president, it is more “forgiving.”After all, adding a few trillion dollars onto a debt that’s already a few trillion dollars in size is less of a change than if you add a few trillion dollars to almost no debt.

The data in this letter was derived from an article written by Phillip Bump for the Washington Post on Jan. 7, 2015.

R. B. Hunsaker Harlingen