Election Coverage / Opinion

Is the National Debt Still a Voter Priority?

national debtIs the national debt still a key election issue? Is that a priority on your mind as you step into the voting booth for the upcoming presidential election? And will any candidates prioritize the issue?

The Hill reports:

Washington wants to spend more.

Just four years ago, the nation’s rapidly expanding debt was seen as Washington’s number one crisis.

When House Republicans took the majority in 2011, they made it their overarching mission to rein in spending. Together with the White House, they agreed to limit spending for the next decade by the use of budget caps.

Now those spending ceilings are unpopular with members of both parties.

Pressure to break them is coming from all sides, and building.

My question is—does it matter to most voters if we dig a deeper national debt hole?

Do people genuinely care, or are the debt numbers so big and ridiculous that they seem borderline surreal?

Have Americans become desensitized to the debt issue because they assume that no politicians—left or right—can be trusted to tackle it seriously?

Have people mostly pushed the debt issue to the side, feeling that no matter who they vote for or who gets elected, debt will rise?

Has a wave of indifference swept the nation on this issue due to disappointment in political leaders and a growing acceptance of the burdens that will face future generations?

Tell me what you think. Tweet me @JedediahBila or leave your comment below.

Jedediah Bila is a Fox News host and commentator, author, columnist, and former professor and academic dean. Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila.

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marine veteran
7 years ago

first the 47 percent of this country dont care about the debt cause they dont understand it and are getting what they want. the next group we middle class people that are still working to pay bills are to busy to get knvolved. that leaves 10 percent of this country trying to do something about it. our elected reps are being paid by special interest groups to side with them. and 1 percent those that are wealthy dont have to care. one solution would be the single bill. present a bill that has nothing added to it. so our elected leaders are actually voting on a single item. next and best solution is one 6 year term for all elected reps period

7 years ago
Reply to  marine veteran

You are right nothing will happen to the debt until we have term limits.
They will keep giving entitlements to the one who pay no taxes you have to have some skin in the game. Everyone should pay taxes so they understand the problems these politicians are creating.

7 years ago
Reply to  Pete

Term Limits have been visited by the Supreme Court and found to be unconstitutional. We the People can throw any elected official out of office. However we talk a big deal but fail to run for office or support those that are not in office.

7 years ago

People care but have lost all faith and hope in our current government and politicians on both sides. The national debt should be our first priority. And National Security- or we will not have a debt to worry about. There is a feeling of what can the average, hard-working American do when pressed on all sides. No one listens or is courageous enough to truly face the harsh realities that our country is facing. I admire the courage of Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee for standing for truth/reality- I am for the Fair Tax. No one at any level of government wants to cut taxes or spending. How realistic is that? How does the average Joe cope with that!? at meetings-local, state – citizens are stonewalled and the politicians do what they want for their donors or friends or self. Empty words are thrown around to distract and silence people. Media is controlled by our corrupt government. Hollywood, TV, and entertainment media flood our nation with violence, pornography, filth and smut. And you wonder why exhausted, hard-working Americans are indifferent? We need an honest, God-fearing man and government, to lead our country but can people see clear of themselves to elect one? Are we so far gone that no one cares about values and integrity- true character- anymore?

7 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Susan you are right on needing a God-fearing leader of the USA. Both in Washington. States and Cities…Our country was founded by God fearing leaders who gave so much and look where we are now. Until we come back to God and realize what is needed to lead, not spend and pass bills to pad pockets. we will never be the Great Country of America that all other countries look up to. God Bless and Keep us is my prayer.

7 years ago

The first thing, as I see it, that needs to be done is do away with base-line budgeting. This is a sneaky little ruse that Congress passed a few years ago to secretly increase government spending and grow government proportionately, by 8% every year. In other words, government budgets grow automatically year by 8%. This is an oxymoron. The fallacy behind base-line budgeting was to off set inflation, but by automatically increasing spending every year, the government in contributing to inflation by printing more money to offset this extra spending.

And incidentally, the so-called Reagan tax cuts that the Democrats like to rail about causing large deficits is a smokescreen. Those tax cuts during the Reagan years doubled revenues to the treasury. The Democratic controlled Congress saw all that extra money coming in and shouted with delight, and started spending money like a bunch of drunken sailors. It’s been going on ever since.

Joe McHugh
7 years ago

Jedediah, your question about the relevance of our National Debt has got to be a rhetorical one! If the people really cared about the viability of our sovereign money system, they wouldn’t keep voting for the politicians who promise something for nothing.

The socialist programs that F. D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and now, obama initiated, are the main contributors to our impending economic collapse. Social Security, The Great Society programs and Obama Care are the destroyers of the wonderful Representative Republic that the Founding Fathers bequeathed to their posterity, (us).

Let’s consider how we got to the awful place that we now find ourselves in. Franklin D. Roosevelt started us on the road to ruin when he made the private ownership of gold bullion illegal in 1933. Richard Nixon completed the separation of gold from our currency by repudiating the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971. That was all that the succeeding “trusted” representatives in Washington, D. C. needed to start the binge spending to attract votes of the folks back home.

The ceiling on the resulting national debt? Don’t make me laugh! The politicians simply go through the formalities of raising it every time they violate that symbolic “ceiling” with their out of control spending.

The solution? Return to a 100% gold standard! Not enough gold to accomplish such a move? There is exactly enough gold to back whatever paper currency is printed. The price of one ounce of gold might jump to $15,000.00 or $20,000.00 but so what? The advantage of using gold for our money standard is that the politicians would lose their ability to manipulate our money system.

Jedediah, I admire the reasonable stands that you continually propound as an author and as a TV commentator.
I suggest that you evaluate the work of Murray N. Rothbard. His book, “What Has Government Done to Our Money”,
ISBN 0-945466-44-7, makes a strong case for returning to the gold standard. Please be advised that this book was not written for the students of Friedrich Hayek or Ludwig von Mises. Rothbard wanted the general public to understand what happened to our money system, and he was scathing in his judgment of the politicians.

Gold would be the perfect money standard because the government can’t print the stuff. Think of the recent Q. E. 3 program that printed money out of thin air! The Q. E. 1 to Q. E. 3 programs printed over one trillion dollars that have no backing such as Treasury Notes or Government Bonds. The Federal Reserve just ran extra dollar bill denominations off the printing presses in a willy-nilly fashion. Can you spell inflation? Inflation is always the result of government thievery.

William E. Foster
7 years ago

The rate at which the national debt is still increasing is frightening. Politicians love to spend and spend, and are generally fiscally irresponsible. I have emailed my Congress people for years on the subject of the national debt and my wish that the budget be balanced. They will NOT even answer. The United States is headed for a fiscal disaster of our own making: our governments, both federal and state, are failing us.

Stephen Graves
7 years ago

Spiderman? Interesting.

Regarding the national debt, voters do care, but as with most major issues they’re simply overwhelmed and easily misled by media outlets such as Fox News. Voters also seem to think that both parties are the same when it comes to the national debt, which of course is blatantly false. America’s inflation-adjusted debt was virtually unchanged from the 1950s into the 1970s (averaging about 2.4 trillion in 2010 dollars). Since Carter was elected, however, Republican administrations have added to America’s debt-to-GDP over seven times faster than Democratic administrations, including Obama’s two terms. The reasons for this, moreover, are painfully straightforward: tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich and large increases in defense spending (both Reagan and Bush 2 doubled defense spending, as opposed to Democratic administrations in which it always declines as a portion of the discretionary budget). It’s basic revenues and expenditures, nothing fancy. If Americans who care about the national debt truly grasped these facts they would never vote for another Republican president again (which, considering certain demographic shifts vis a vis immigration policies, probably won’t happen anyway).

7 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Graves

Get out of that dream world.

Jerry Gerard
7 years ago

PS. If republicans were serious about reducing the deficit in favor of the American people I would suggest that they
work with We The People to correct this problem. One possible solution might be to start up a deficit reduction account managed by a Peoples Credit Union where all concerned citizens can donate a chosen amount of money per month to that fund but they would also be able to monitor the account to see that their funds are not being wasted but used toward the deficit reduction. I believe the majority of people would be glad to help solve this and other problems we face as long as they know that this account is used wisely. If you can show people that what they do makes a difference, you can build a positive reason for them to want to donate to the fund. One big snag is that along with this the Republican party would have to find a way to curb government waste so the deficit can be allowed to shrink as the funds are applied. Just a thought…

7 years ago

The biggest problem facing the nation is the National Debt. The first thing that needs doing is to Balance the Budget. Secondly, spending needs to be reduced even further to start paying down the national debt. This is true of each and every family in the nation and it also holds true for every level of government: federal, state, and local. Unfortunately, too many voters seem to think that if a local program is paid for by the feds or the state, it’s free money rather than tax money that is paying for it. Taxes have continually increased but regardless of how high they are, it’s NEVER enough for free spending politicians. Growing up we never heard of sales taxes but in my location now, the sales tax rate is 7.75% and it’s scheduled to go up to 8.25%. This is on top of the excessive Federal and State Income Taxes and doesn’t even get into excessively high Real Estate Taxes or state fees for vehicle registrations, hunting and fishing licenses, and other taxes on recreational equipment. Every politician swears an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States but I can’t think of any that actually does it and none are held accountable.

Ivan Berry
8 years ago

In an attempt to not get too long winded, here goes: It seems that the majority of voters who vote straight line ticket have little understanding of the similar actions of the Dems and Repubs, and many of these also donot know debt from debit or any other economic terms of consequence. Party is everything to a large segment.
Those who have studied the three major schools of economics care a great deal, but this is a small proportion of the voting public and are unable to make much diference in outcomes. Some of us try and educate our peers and younger folk about what is likely to result from our governments fiduciary failures, but since the desensitization through the overuse of million/billion/trillion, people fail to grasp the complexities and hazards pending. Those in dependant status who owe their existance to government are either bought (politicians, bureaucrats, government employees, etc.) or like the “Obama money” lady, have a total lack of knowledge where their handout originates. So long as they keep receiving they will keep voting without any understanding or concern of where all this will lead for the future and for future generations (should we last that long).
Thanks for asking. I’ve said enough.

8 years ago

Yes, STOP The spending, pass the FAIR TAX, balance the budget.

Joe McHugh
7 years ago
Reply to  carl

Carl, the Fair Tax, or consumption tax, is the best solution to the unfair progressive tax model that we now use.
I have a distant cousin that earns just over 10 million dollars a year on equities and high yield corporate bonds plus a few companies that he has controlling interest in. He was bragging that he tax consultant found tax shelters that enable him to only pay about 16% in taxes on that 10 million dollar income, ( about $2,560,000.00).

Under your suggested “Fair Tax” my cousin, who only sends about 1 million dollars on consumables per year, would have 9 million dollars tax free! Of course the middle class will have to pay a higher sales tax rate to make up for the shortfall from the rich, but the middle class seems to love the Fair Tax model anyway.

Did I mention that I work for one of my cousin’s companies? When I tell him that I am backing the Fair Tax, (sales tax) plan, he will probably give me a raise! Carl, please keep calling for the Fair Tax! I hope that all of the readers push their representatives for adoption of the Fair Tax.

8 years ago

absolutely the national debt is a disgrace and we MUST do better for the sake of our children and grandchildren. We can do nothing about any of our other problems if we run out of money because we did not get our debt under control

8 years ago

If everyone would just REGULARLY focus on what’s best for our children and grandchildren the National Debt would rise in utter importance. They do not deserve to be sattled with impossible debt load.

Wayne LeBlanc
8 years ago

Debt (and deficit spending) for a country are different than debt for any other entity. If you print your own money, debt is not an issue. Now, on the other side of the coin, printing too much money or too soon has ramifications on prices. As far as it being important to the voter, that’s a joke. Only 28% of registered Texas voters even voted in the last election. People are too far removed from government, don’t understand how it works and don’t really care.

8 years ago
Reply to  Wayne LeBlanc


I have to disagree with you when you state that, “if you print your own money, debt is not an issue.” The assumption is absurd for two reasons:

First, interest has to be paid on the debt. The Federal Reserve has been holding interest rates below the market level for about eight years. The Obama administration has added almost eight trillion dollars to the national debt and the Bush administration added a substantial amount of debt too. The debt hasn’t overwhelmed us because the artificially low interest rates have kept the payments on the debt manageable. However, the Fed can’t hold the rates at these low rates forever. Eventually, and I can’t tell you when, the Fed will have to raise interest rates and when that happens the payment on the national debt will skyrocket and a larger percentage of the budget will be allocated to pay the interest on the debt. In the meantime, savers who cannot afford to take risk with their money, have been punished by this policy. The people on fixed incomes, the elderly, and the poor are lucky if they can earn one-half of one percent on their savings. Add in inflation and taxation and they are loosing ground.

Second, ” if you print your own money” in excessive amounts you are going to cause inflation. The monetary base has grown rapidly since the Great Recession began but it has not led to higher prices because the banks are not loaning most of the funds to customers. The money is not in circulation because it is being held by the banks and the people. In short, an economists would tell you the velocity of money is low. Inflation, which is an increase in the amount of money and credit, is a very serious problem. It not only leads to higher prices it also creates distortions in the marketplace. Have you ever read about the hyperinflations in Germany and France? If yes, you would know how devastating they were. In Germany the hyperinflation helped Hitler rise to power. Even moderate rates of inflation can be devastating. Argentina and Chile suffered tremendously because of their inflations. The moderate inflation in the USA from 1968 to 1980 caused tremendous damage to our economy and hardship for many people.

Finally, to answer Jedediah’s questions. Most people are apathetic and don’t understand the problems that are created by debt and deficits. If they did they would demand that the budget be balanced. The voters who understand the issue have become cynical. In Washington a cut in spending is not really a cut in spending. They use baseline spending so if a program was expected to grow by four percent but ends up growing at three percent it is considered a devastating cut in spending. This, of course, is a sad joke.

Imagine, you were supposed to get a four percent raise and your boss calls you into his office and tells you the company hasn’t been doing as well as they had predicted. Sales are down! The boss informs you that your raise will only be three percent for this year. You might be disappointed but not devastated.

In Washington it’s the other way around. A small cut in the rate of the growth in spending is treated like a calamity. The politicians, bureaucrats, and special interest groups tell you the sky is falling.

Until the American people understand the severity of debt and deficits the situation will only get worse. A Balanced Budget Amendment won’t work either because the politicians will just move items into the off budget category to make the budget deficit disappear.

The very young are going to suffer because of our excessive spending. They are the ones who are going to have to pay the bill.

Stan Kata
8 years ago

Most Americans for years have been what I’ve labelled “Three-Foot Americans.” To them, if an issue doesn’t directly and profoundly impact them personally it has no relevance to them whatsoever. They live in the immediate and the future be damned, A mindset taken to the nth degree by the advent of cellular technology, Now even family members when they are together gravitate to their individual cocoons and relate to their social media “friends” instead of family members in the same room. How sad! How unnecessary! How consequently easy for politicians to “pull one over” on us! Well, Americans get what they vote for and what they desire…no matter how warped or defeating.

8 years ago

If the politicians would open their eyes and look at Greece,they might be able to see the US as well. We are in a world of hurt because all of our nonfunctional politicians are too damn greedy ,looking at only themselves.

8 years ago

Jedediah, I ABSOLUTELY care about that the national debt is ever increasing. I don’t believe Americans have become desensitized to the problem, it’s the politicians who have become desensitized about the matter. I had high hopes that the Republican landslide victories this past November would bring about much needed change, solutions and controls… I am so disappointed. Regarding a solution, I’m hard pressed to come up with even one. My best to you.

Diana Erbio
8 years ago

The National Debt, now approaching $18 Trillion is a huge problem and should be high on Americans’ list of concerns. I believe the reason it is not is because the Main Stream Media and many politicians in both parties are not bringing attention to the mounting national debt. Young Americans should be especially focused on this unsustainable debt as it will impact their financial well being the most. The burden will fall on them in the decades to come. A nation in debt will suffer economically and will not be able to fund its national security. Rand Paul is one candidate who is concerned about our national debt. Americans should pay more attention to what he is saying about our debt and other failed policies.

8 years ago
Reply to  Diana Erbio

Rand Paul, a libertarian, doesn’t have the backbone to address our spending problems. That shows you how bad the situation has become. A good politician will tell 60 year old people that there social security benefits need to be trimmed. A good politician will tell college student that the student loan program needs to be phased out. A good politician will tell farmers that their subsidies will end in a couple of years. A good politician will tell people that the subsidized and free school lunch program will end because we already give you food stamps. The list goes on and on and on and on………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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