LC Bulletin: U.S. debt worrisome

September 3, 2010. Retrieved online >September 3, 2010 from Todd G. Dickson, Las Cruces Bulletin

Though the public policy conference in his name addressed issues ranging from border security to elections, former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici was biting at the bit to talk about one thing – the national debt.

Frequently, he came back to the worrisome topic during the Domenici Public Policy Conference held Wednesday, Sept. 1, and Thursday, Sept. 2, at New Mexico State University.

But Domenici, who is now co-chairing a debt-reduction task force for the Bipartisan Policy Center, was also restrained because the group won’t release its budget proposal until after the Nov. 2 elections.

For Domenici, who for many years in the U.S. Senate was the Budget Committee chairman, the deficit is a burden that could result in the United States losing its leadership role in the world and making the lives of future generations poorer than the ones before.

The most recent estimate of the national debt has it at $13 trillion – a staggering number for Domenici, who remembers when it had reached only the hundred-billion figures when he retired from the Senate in 2009 after serving six terms.

The national debt used to amount to only 20 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP), Domenici said. It’s now at 70 percent of GDP and needs to be stopped before it reaches 100 percent of GDP, he said.

The nation’s leaders and people need to treat the problem with the same urgency as they would with going to war, Domenici said. Because if the country’s debt continues its growth unabated, half of all income in the U.S. will be eventually committed to the debt, he said, and that would be just keeping up with interest rates.

Unlike the huge debt facing the country after World War II, this debt doesn’t belong to us, Domenici noted. The U.S. people paid for WWII through war bonds, but most of the current debt is being held by China, he said, and if China decides to stop taking on the debt of other countries, it would send the U.S. and world economies into a tailspin.

Though he could not give specifics about the budget plan his task force will propose on Nov. 15, Domenici gave some hints, saying every way the debt could be addressed was considered by the group. The budget proposal will include a mix of tax increases and entitlement reductions, he said.

That’s because the debt is too huge for simple solutions, Domenici said. Cutting entitlement won’t produce enough reductions, nor will raising taxes alone.

Read the Las Cruces Bulletin article.

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