Opinion: National debt

From Sept. 4, 2012, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa, on the national debt:

Albert Einstein is credited with observing compound interest as the most powerful force in the universe.

"He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn't, pays it," he continued.

Right now, America understands compound interest yet is paying for it, too.

At $15.595 trillion, U.S. debt this year exceeded the country's Gross Domestic Product. To be sure, that's an alarming figure. Republicans made hay of it at their convention — as well they should.

In 2000, the first year of President George W. Bush's term, debt as it compared to GDP swung from plus 57.7 percent to 57.8 percent in the red. Then we cut taxes twice and went to war twice.

The first war in Afghanistan has cost us $561 billion and promises to remain expensive even after troops leave in 2014. Meanwhile the war in Iraq, now generally viewed as wholly unnecessary, cost $806 billion and still requires massive amounts of money.

All of it's borrowed.

Debt piled up during Bush's administration from 57.8 percent of GDP to 74.1 percent. Anyone familiar with how compounding interest works knows how that curve will soar — especially when expenses continue to exceed income.

In the past four years, those numbers have marched steadily and unsurprisingly upward: 86.4, 95.1, 98.7 and 101.7 percent of GDP. (Japan's debt-to-GDP ratio is 220 percent, and see where that country is.) ...

There's plenty of blame to go around. ... Democrats and Republicans both failed to recognize where the country was going.

Cutting taxes seemed like a good idea when the Treasury was full. But that was before 9/11, and the budget was not tweaked when the country marched off to war. Then the ultra-expensive bank meltdown hit. ...

The fact Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are running neck and neck shows Americans are more savvy about how we arrived at this point than politicians give them credit. ...

Online:

http://www.thehawkeye.com

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