Kevin D. Williamson’s latest National Review feature offers a succinct take on the reason for Standard & Poor’s decision to knock down the federal government’s credit rating.
The United States was downgraded not because it has a heavy public debt, but because its public debt has turned cancerous, and its growth shows no sign of abating. The United States has a metastatic debt for many reasons, the fundamental one being a lamentably juvenile refusal by the American people and their elected representatives to bring spending and taxes into some kind of arithmetic balance, a task that has not proved too great in recent history for such non-superpowers as Canada, Bolivia, and Paraguay. The same Americans who left their guts in the grass at Gettysburg and ran face first into hot hell on the beaches at Normandy will pay any price and bear any burden except a balanced federal checkbook. That is because the main expense unbalancing the checkbook is medical entitlements, Medicare and Medicaid chief among them, and Americans would rather face Old Cloots himself than pay a doctor’s bill out of pocket. We are kind of stupid that way.
Carolina Journal Online readers and CJ Radio listeners learned recently about research that suggests a sustained government debt above roughly 77 percent of gross domestic product leads to sagging economic growth.