America's Finances: The Tip of the ICEBERG Jul 2, 2015 5:38:56 GMT -7
Post by Nictoshek on Jul 2, 2015 5:38:56 GMT -7
Athens on the Potomac
Jon Gabriel, Ed. C
June 30, 2015
Financial experts in New York, London, and Brussels have tut-tutted Greece’s economic travails as Athens considers its future with the European Union. Why did they borrow so much money? How can they ever pay it back? Do they think that much debt is sustainable?
Instead of pointing fingers at the innumerates running Athens, they should consider our own situation. Jason Russell of the Washington Examiner shows how America’s debt projections look suspiciously like Greece’s recent history.
With all the chaos unravelling in Greece, Congress would be wise to do what it takes to avoid reaching Greek debt levels. But it’s not a matter of sticking to the status quo and avoiding bad decisions that would put the budget on a Greek-like path, because the budget is on that path already.
A quarter-century ago, Greek debt levels were roughly 75 percent of Greece’s economy — about equal to what the U.S. has now. As of 2014, Greek debt levels are about 177 percent of national GDP. Now, the country is considering defaulting on its loans and uncertainty is gripping the economy.
In 25 years, U.S. debt levels are projected to reach 156 percent of the economy, which Greece had in 2012. That projection comes from the Congressional Budget Office’s alternative scenario, which is more realistic than its standard fiscal projection about which spending programs Congress will extend into the future.
If Congress leaves the federal budget on autopilot, debt levels will soar. Instead, spending must be reined in to avoid a Greek-style meltdown.
While we’re right to be concerned about 2040, the U.S. is in deep trouble now. Yet if you mention the debt to most Americans, they’re either confused or indifferent. “But Obama lowered the deficit.” “Just print more money.“ “It’s Reagan’s fault!”
Since most graphs look like this, I created my own user-friendly debt chart focused on three big numbers: Deficit, revenue and debt. (My first version was published a couple of years ago. This one is updated with the most recent figures).