Is the United States Going Too Much in Debt?

“The 360” shows you various perspectives on the main stories and debates of the day.

What is happening

Negotiations in Congress on the next stimulus bill aimed at countering the economic effect of the coronavirus have collapsed amid debate over the size of the bailout. Not only is there the expected sparring between Democrats and Republicans, but the issue is also believed to be causing a split within the GOP itself.

A vocal group of Republicans have begun to express concerns about adding how much the next stimulus will add to the federal deficit, “We have to be careful not to accumulate huge amounts of debt,” the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin noted. Kentucky Senator. Rand Paul said some of his GOP colleagues are “no different from Socialist Democrats when it comes to debt.”

House Democrats passed a $ 3.4 trillion stimulus bill in May. The proposal being considered by Senate Republicans has a price tag of $ 1.1 trillion. Even if a much smaller package ends up being passed, the national debt will still be at historic levels. The $ 2.2 trillion CARES law passed in March exceeded the deficit $ 26 trillion and the country is on track for the largest annual debt-to-economy ratio since World War II.

The coronavirus isn’t the only reason the United States has so much debt. After registering a surplus at the end of the 1990s, the deficit bloated over the past two decades. Although he promised to eliminate the federal debt – which stood at $ 19 trillion when he took office – President Trump is on the beat to have the biggest deficit of all presidents.

Why there is debate

So much about the crisis caused by the coronavirus is unprecedented, but the deficit debate is one of the most enduring conflicts in the economy.

For many budget conservatives, large deficits represent a major risk to the country’s economic stability. Going into debt can be a quick way to solve short-term problems, but it only shifts the burden onto future generations, they argue. The weight of trillions of dollars in debt, plus accrued interest, will stifle the country’s ability to recover from the recession and hamper growth once the economy improves.

The ability of the United States to continue to borrow huge sums of money, at least in theory, could be depleted if oversized deficits reduce confidence in the US economy. If that happens in the future, it could cause a major spike in interest rates, severe inflation or even an economic collapse that overshadows the impact of the pandemic, the deficit hawks fear.

Others argue that these potential future problems are paltry compared to the very real disaster that will occur without a major bailout. Research suggests that the $ 600 weekly premium added to unemployment has kept the economy from collapsing even more in recent months. Now that it’s expired, millions of Americans are at risk of losing their homes, and countless businesses could shut down for good.

According to some, the only way to truly save the economy is to bring the pandemic under control. Spending money on improving testing, helping people stay at home, and supporting struggling state budgets in the short term could prevent the need for an even bigger stimulus in the future. Some Democrats believe debt concerns are insincere and politically motivated, as the GOP enthusiastically backed tax cuts in 2017 that are expected to add trillions to the deficit.

And after

Negotiations in Congress are ongoing, but the deep divisions between Democrats and Republicans suggest that a final deal could take days, if not weeks. Trump said he could sue executive actions to address issues like evictions and a reduction in payroll taxes, but did not provide details on what measures could be taken or when they would come into effect.


Limit deficit spending

The stimulus should be limited to the most essential remedies

“Senate Republicans are right to worry about the increase in federal debt. But they are wrong to artificially limit the level of spending in the latest coronavirus relief program. “- Henri Olsen, Washington post

At some point, American credit can run out

“America’s borrowing capacity is important, but we might find it is not unlimited.” – Brian Riedel, National exam

Spend the money now, but aggressively tackle the deficit once the pandemic is over

“When the pandemic passes, authorities will need to get out of rescue mode and start weaning capitalism off easy money and bailouts. “- Ruchir Sharma, the Wall Street newspaper

The previous stimulus proved that you can’t get out of a crisis with spending

“Having missed the opportunity to quell the spending frenzy and put the country in a better position to deal with a crisis, Congress now appears ready to do the only thing it knows: spend even more.” – Eric Boehm, Raison

Future generations will suffer from reckless spending today

Long after the discovery of an effective vaccination, the events of 2020 could feature in yet another catastrophe: a forced reduction in health insurance and social security benefits, as well as unprecedented tax hikes, to cope to a massive national debt. “- Chris Reed, San Diego Union-Tribune

Don’t worry about the deficit

The risk of large deficits is insignificant compared to the damage caused by insufficient stimulus

“Deficits matter in a way, but not in the apocalyptic, over the cliff and straightforward way that Republicans like to invoke when they’re feeling stingy. A sufficiently large deficit under the right circumstances could theoretically lead to inflation. But inflation is not an intractable mystical force. The government has all kinds of tools at its disposal to deal with inflation. – Zach Carter, The HuffPost

Republicans’ debt concerns are purely political

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that there are no Republican deficit hawks – only poseurs who pretend they care about deficits in order to block the deficit. expenses they don’t like. ” – New York Times Columnist Paul krugman

Big bailout can kick-start economic recovery

“Congress should seize this opportunity to support the American people and the American economy. If we grow the economy, we will be able to pay off the debt. – Minneapolis Federal Reserve Chairman Neel Kashkari at “Confront the nation

Better spend too much now and avoid a meltdown

“We should try different things: stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, state and local government aid, small business aid. Some of these things will be more effective than others, but it is better to err on the side of things. – Economist Gus Faucher at Washington post

Historically low interest rates make borrowing money a smart strategy

“Interest rates on federal debt are currently below the expected rate of inflation, so there is no good reason to restrict the overall size of the package.” – Vox correspondent Matthew Yglesias

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Photographic illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Getty Images

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