This week, a group of Republicans are expected to introduce a resolution declaring America’s $22 trillion national debt a security threat. The resolution is being sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) in the House and Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.) in the Senate. The timing is intentional as the debt-ceiling deadline approaches on March 2nd.
Congress isn’t expected to raise the debt ceiling this week though as the U.S. Treasury has enough cash on hand to continue funding the government into the summer in what is known as “extraordinary measures.” Indeed, it is rather extraordinary that our hard-earned money is being dumped into a metaphorical furnace to keep the lights on a little longer and few seem to be sounding the alarm.
But rest assured, Congress will vote later this year to increase America’s “borrowing authority” and claim that it’s necessary to avoid a “default” on our debt. That’s political gobbledygook for Congress will vote to continue pillaging from our children and grandchildren in order to satisfy today’s insatiable appetite for spending taxpayer money.
So, in that respect, the resolution being offered declaring the national debt a grave security threat is welcome. At bare minimum, it signifies that at least a handful of lawmakers recognize the threat that insurmountable debt poses to prosperity, opportunity, and security for future generations.
There are a few things to consider.
The first is that it’s just a resolution. Such language is nonbinding and in no way would affect Congress’ spending behavior or change statute to alter current fiscal policy even if passed and signed into law. It’s merely a statement from Congress. Which means that it’s little more than a messaging document.
Second, the resolution is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled House for both partisan reasons (it’s a Republican resolution) and policy reasons (Democrats typically like spending egregious amounts of taxpayer money whereas Republicans only like spending exorbitant amounts of taxpayer money).
Third, the same resolution was introduced last year by Rep. Biggs and it went nowhere. That’s not the fault of Congressman Biggs, but rather the fault of a GOP establishment that is only interested in discussing the national debt when it’s in the minority and isn’t required to do anything about it.
Talk is cheap. Even if the cost of congressional inaction won’t be.
Dan Coats, the current Director of National Intelligence and former Senator from Indiana, testified under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee that the national debt poses the greatest internal threat to our national security.
There are several reasons for that.
Should the debt overwhelm and essentially collapse our economy, we will not only be in a bind to continue maintaining our current defense posture, but a global recession (if not a global depression) will render America’s presence abroad supporting our allies and keeping the sea lanes open for trade a far more difficult proposition.
Additionally, roughly a third of our national debt is held by foreign entities—including China and other nation states on less-than-friendly standing with the United States. If conflict were to ever arise, the fact that foreign powers control nearly a third of our obligations would hinder domestic financing efforts for any military or security campaigns should the U.S. government need to put resources toward a particular effort.
This, to say nothing about the debt’s potential to destroy any chance of prosperity or opportunity for affected generations following an economic collapse. Such a scenario would increase poverty and have a devastating effect on civil society as people and communities scrambled to adjust.
Former Secretary of Defense Mattis stated in 2017 that he too believed our national debt posed the greatest threat to our nation’s security.
As America moves toward a reality where interest on the debt will exceed defense spending by 2025, the likelihood of such a dire scenario occurring will only increase.
It’s good that some members of Congress recognize the looming danger.
It would be even better if they all did and had the courage to actually do something about it.